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Today's Opinions

  • Water conservation should extend beyond times of drought

    BY AUBREY DUNN
    State Land Commissioner, Guest Editorial

    A report recently published in the Albuquerque Journal revealed that nearly 99 percent of New Mexico is in extreme, severe or moderate drought.  Long before the report was issued, we at the State Land Office (SLO) have been acting with great urgency to protect New Mexico water and I have implemented long-term water conservation initiatives.

    The volumes of water the oil and gas industry use is prolific. Of the 13 million acres of mineral estate managed by the SLO, 3 million acres are leased for oil and gas development. Oil and gas activity on state trust lands generates 92 percent of the agency’s annual revenues, most of which supplements the operating budgets of public schools, therefore the industry’s investment in New Mexico is critical to our mission. However, while revenues are soaring, we are taking action to ensure the state has adequate fresh water supplies.

  • Regulation was a tug-of-war before the dawn of history

    The battle of regulation – pitting powers outside ourselves against desires inside ourselves – began with the first glimmer of society. Railing against regulation continues to be popular. Today, patterned gripes are printed on tee shirts and sold online. The Babel of regulation grows from there and clutters the news.

    All humans are born with a dislike for regulation, which stays with us. The need for regulation is no less persistent, as is clear in history’s timeline of regulation.

    An early form of regulating was sticks and stones. In due course, this beginning evolved into peer pressure within small groups and hence to tribal customs among clans.

    The world grew more crowded and regulatory themes began to spread among the tendrils of religion. Religious teachings have long sought to restrict damaging deeds, using a potent mixture of fire and brimstone to promote self-responsibility. The Pilgrims enlisted religion as a regulatory aid to succeed in their Plymouth ventures. Laxity is perilous.

    In today’s crowds that have little else in common, people mostly look to a government to be the chief enforcer. This choice is expensive in many ways. It starts bureaucracy, which inspires catchy gripes that sell well on tee shirts.

  • Carbon Free Power Project to be discussed by BPU, Council April 10

    BY TIMOTHY A. GLASCO
    Utilities Manager, Department of Public Utilities

    On April 10, the Board of Public Utilities and the County Council will convene to consider approval of a Power Sales Contract (PSC) with the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) organization, to continue our participation in the Carbon Free Power Project. This will be the world’s first small modular nuclear reactor power generation plant.

    Located in Idaho, this 600MW facility is scheduled to be operational by 2027. Over the past four years, a fatal flaw analysis was conducted and the project was discussed at numerous meetings with the public, BPU and County Council.

    Now is the time to decide if we continue in the project or withdraw, prior to the development of a combined operating licensing application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  

    Why is the county interested in this nuclear generating plant project, and why now?  

  • Single-payer is not the answer

    BY LISA SHIN
    Candidate for NM House of Representatives, Dist. 43

    Obamacare had thousands of pages of job-killing mandates, regulations, and taxes. Why should we be surprised at rising costs and skyrocketing premiums?  We should have learned that more government regulation over health care is disastrous. Instead, we have Councilors Sheehey and Chandler falling all over themselves to be the louder voice for single-payer: the most control government can have over health care.

    Be wary of old politicians who tout the merits of socialized medicine.  They love to talk about access to preventative, primary, and specialty care, but avoid the crucial questions:  “How are we going to pay for it?” and “Who will be the providers for it?” Briefly, these are the reasons why a single-payer system would not work for New Mexico. 

  • Business needs, transparency rules find balance at spaceport

    The spaceport finally caught a break after years of flak. Three breaks, in fact.

    Even so, Spaceport America was in the crosshairs of a sustained transparency debate in the recent legislative session.

    As media and watchdog organizations like to remind you, transparency and open records in government are vital to a healthy democracy. But as an old business reporter, I also understand how cautious and downright paranoid high tech companies are about their internal information. They’re secretive for a reason.

    So when headline writers at the New Mexican exclaim, “Transparency takes hit,” after the passage of a bill protecting customer information at the spaceport, I’m afraid I can’t agree.

    The bipartisan Senate Bill 98, called the Commercial Aerospace Protection Act, started out exempting Spaceport client information from the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act  unless the company waives confidentiality. IPRA is the sacred cow of New Mexico journalists.

  • Lujan Grisham wins Dem preprimary vote, land commissioner proxy battle set

    Joseph Cervantes (joe4nm.com ) offered substantive ideas to the Democratic Party preprimary convention March 10 in Albuquerque and got 10 percent of the votes.

    Jeff Apodaca (apo18.com), with his promise of 225,000 new jobs, attracted 21 percent of the votes.

    Peter DeBenedittis (peterd4gov.com) had the truth, drew 1.9 percent of the votes and endorsed Apodaca.

    Michelle Lujan Grisham (newmexicansformichelle.com) won the audience sign waving battle and 67 percent of the votes.

    The four candidates for governor and candidates for other offices spoke to a full house in a hall on the top floor of Albuquerque’s convention center. The show-biz part might have swayed one or two delegates. As the candidates pitched, delegates completed ballots in small voting booths in an adjacent room.

    The convention was about candidates getting enough delegate votes—20 percent—to be on the primary ballot.

    Candidates not making the delegate vote cut can get more petition signatures to get on the ballot. The six contested races attracted 21 candidates.

    It was show biz with a ritual of a video and supporters packing the stage and waving signs. DeBenedittis did it differently. His fiancé, Tracy Juechter, introduced him and was the only person on stage as he spoke.

  • Workshop points small businesses toward government contracts

    FINANCE NEW MEXICO

    The federal government is the world’s biggest customer and a major driver in New Mexico’s economy.

    While only a fraction of the $8.2 billion that Uncle Sam spent in New Mexico in fiscal year 2017 benefitted local companies, advisers at the state’s four Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) work to increase the flow of federal dollars to small businesses that offer products or services the government wants.

    To that end, the Clovis PTAC is hosting a workshop March 20 at Clovis Community College for entrepreneurs who want to learn more about becoming a government contractor.

    “The workshop is to educate business owners on how to do business with Cannon Air Force Base and other government agencies,” said Jonnie Loadwick, procurement technical adviser at the Clovis PTAC and a certified VA verification counselor. “Cannon has been growing the last few years, and there is a lot of opportunity for government contracting in this area.”

    Obtaining government contracts can be just as onerous as securing contracts in the private sector: Businesses must aggressively market themselves, because competition is fierce.

  • Sheehey: Advocating for the GRT

    BY PETE SHEEHEY
    Los Alamos County Councilor, candidate for District 43

    As a member of the County Council’s Regional and State Subcommittee, I helped develop our state legislative agenda, which was approved by the whole Council last December.  One priority was to address the concern that if a non-profit organization won the new LANL contract, state and local government could lose a total of  $50 million per year in gross receipts tax (GRT).

    Working with our State Senators Cisneros and Martinez and Representative Garcia Richard, we developed a bill, SB17, to close the loophole that lets non-profit organizations avoid GRT payment as prime contractors for national laboratories (SB17 preserves the GRT exemption for all other non-profit businesses and contracts). The bill passed both Houses: 31-4 in the Senate and 48-19 in the House.  It still needs the signature of Governor Martinez to become law.

    Why SB17?