News from the Legislative Session – Three bills signed into law

Posted on 30. Mar, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics

Senator Rue’s Anti-Corruption Bill signed into law

Santa Fe- Senator Sander Rue’s bill that fights corruption with sole source state contracts was signed into law today.  The governor today signed SB 182- Procurement Code Changes.   The bill was also sponsored by Representative Lucky Varela.

Senator Rue said sole source work is especially vulnerable to fraud because it is not competitive when there is only one bidder.  Senator Rue had said about his bill:

“We need to knock out any chance what-so-ever of corruption, fraud and abuse in bidding for state work,” Senator Rue said.  “In the procurement code, there needs to be more transparency so illegal activities can’t be hidden from the public. There should no longer be any chance of sweetheart deals of the past. We don’t want to have a mobster mentality in the state. If there is a violation, hit the offenders with stiffer penalties.”

The new law makes five significant changes to the New Mexico Procurement Code (CODE) to deter illegal activity in the bidding process.  For all bids, it increases penalties for violations and requires all records to be saved for at least three years. In sole source bids, it allows for protesting the non-competitive bids; it tightens the definition of who is eligible to receive the sole source bids; and it increases transparency of the sole source bids.

Senator Rue said all contractors should have the same, fair opportunity to bid on state contracts.

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Senator Pat Woods’ bill to Revitalize Frontier Communities was Signed into Law

69 Incorporated Rural Communities Affected

(Santa Fe) Senator Pat Woods (R-Broadview)“Frontier Communities” bill was  signed into law by the governor today.  Previously, a bill he co-sponsored to lower the price of fishing licenses to encourage more outdoor recreation was also signed into law.

Senator Woods said he is pleased the governor signed the bill to included  smaller,  rural communities in the New Mexico Main Street program.“We are no longer the wild, wild West but we are still very unique because we are the last frontier in the United States and people want to experience that.  Frontier communities give you an experience you cannot find anywhere else. They deserve to be included in the New Mexico Main Street program so the smaller, rural  communities can be revitalized and enjoyed for decades and centuries to come.” Senator Woods said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to help preserve our heritage in the 69 incorporated rural communities that now can be included this program.”

Senator Woods said $100,000 for the New Mexico Main Street program was included in the budget bill.

Senator Woods’ bill, SB 185aa amends the New Mexico  Main Street Act [3-60B-1 and 4 NMSA 1978] to include a new category. The new category of community economic development support by the MainStreet Program is called “Frontier Communities.” It is to help rural communities under 5,000 in population with economic development initiatives.

Through the New Mexico Main Street programs a program which is supported by the National Trust for Historic Preservation,  technical assistance is given to the communities to revitalize them. Assistance is given to rehabilitate buildings, to address infrastructure needs and to  fund capital improvements. It is done through a non-profit corporation, with local Main Street organizations working in partnership with cities.

The Main Street program is part of an economic development network of more than 37 states and 1200 communities across the country that was launched in 1984 in New Mexico.

The low-cost, special  $2.00 fishing license bill was  signed into law by the  governor earlier this month, on March 8th.  The law, co-sponsored by Senator Woods, allows boy scouts under 18 years old to fish with a discounted temporary special fishing license at Philmont Scout Ranch in Northeastern  New Mexico.

“We need to do all we can to attract kids to the outdoor experience,” Senator Woods had said.  “If a discounted $2.00 fishing license gets more kids to cast a line,  great!”

Senator Woods said attracting scouts to Northeastern  New Mexico  is  also great for business in the area.  He said scouts from all over the country travel to the Philmont Scout Ranch, spending money in the area when they arrive. He also notes the ranch hires as many as 3,000 people and that their salaries add to economic development in the area.

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Sen. Ingle’s  Bill to Better Assure Healthier Teacher Pension Plan Signed into Law

SB 115a-Educational Retirement Changes

Sponsored by Senate Minority Floor Leader Stuart Ingle (R-Ingle)

SB 115a makes numerous changes to the ERB including:

  • Increases employee contributions, reduces COLA;
  • Maintains employer contributions at levels enacted in 2005;
  • Increases the age to quality for the cost of living adjustment for new hires;
  • Requires minimum age of 55 to receive retirement benefits that are not reduced.

Santa Fe-  The bill, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle (R-Portales)   to better assure that there will continue to be a pension for teachers and other educators in New Mexico’s public schools was signed into law today.   Currently, the Education Board Fund (ERB)  that pays for teacher retirement has huge unfunded liabilities.  There are $6.2 billion dollars fewer dollars in the fund than what are needed for the pensions for current retirees and for  employees who will retire in the future.  The bill makes changes to the pension plan to improve the ERB financial stability from its current 60.7% of unfunded liabilities to over 100% funded by 2043.

“We need to do this now,” Senator Ingle has said. “The legislature has the ability to hopefully fix this matter now so the fund will grow healthier well into the future.  I appreciate the governor signing this important and necessary piece of legislation.”

This information was submitted by the New Mexico State Senate Republican Office. For more information, contact 505/986-4702., ATTN: Diane Kinderwater

New Mexico First Accepting Nominations for Bipartisanship Awards

Posted on 30. Mar, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Social/Cultural

New Mexico First Accepting Nominations for Bipartisanship Awards education, healthcare, energy and lifetime achievement

New Mexico First, a nonpartisan public policy organization is accepting nominations for the Spirit of Bipartisan Award to be presented at the annual First Forum Lecture Series on June 21, 2013. This award honors lawmakers and other leaders who have been role models for cross-party collaboration primarily in specific policy areas, such as health, education, energy, environment, and economic development. Awards will be given at state and local levels. Awardees must have proven, in tangible ways, their ability to put good policy above partisan politics.

In conjunction with the awards presentation New Mexico First is hosting the 2013 First Forum: A Policy Tribute to U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman. This tribute will primarily focus on issues Senator Bingaman prioritized while in office: energy, education, and economic development. Moderated by ABC newsman Sam Donaldson, the event’s panel of speakers will be U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman, Martin Heinrich, and Pete Domenici (invited).

The First Form Lecture Series is a tradition in the state that enables New Mexicans to hear national figures speak about public policy topics. Previous speakers include Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, Cokie Roberts, Tom Brokaw, George Will and Governor Mario Cuomo. This year’s event will be held at the National Hispanic Cultural Center on June 21, 2013.

Nominations can be submitted online at www.nmfirst.org. The deadline for submitting nominations is April 16.

“New Mexico is a state that has a long history of different people from very different backgrounds finding a way to work together to move the state forward,” said Gene Baca, selection committee chair. “This organization is seeking to recognize lawmakers and community leaders, who in this age of divisiveness, put the people of New Mexico first and who work to find good solutions to the challenges we face.”

The awardees will be chosen by the awards committee, made up of Gene Baca, Heather Balas, Dino Cervantes, Janet Green, Edward Lujan, Cynthia Nava, Brian Rashap and Tony Trujillo.

“In this time of political disunity, people sometimes overlook lawmakers and community leaders who are working together, across party lines, to strengthen New Mexico,” said Heather Balas, president of New Mexico First. “This award shines the spotlight on these hard-working role models.”

This release was submitted by New Mexico First, a nonpartisan, nonprofit policy organization. New Mexico First is dedicated to engaging citizens in public issues and providing a catalyst for positive change. It addresses a range of public policies, including education, economic development, healthcare, energy and water. For more information, contact: Melanie Eastwood at 505-241-4814

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Keystone pipeline – delay is the name of the game

Posted on 30. Mar, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

The four-year saga of the Keystone XL pipeline is a textbook case of the game Washington politicians play. To avoid making decisions that might anger one constituency or another, they appoint a committee or commission a study and then sit back, hoping the report never comes in.  If they don’t like the results, they commission another study.

The application to permit construction on the Keystone pipeline was filed in September 2008. Since then, four reports have been produced on the potential environmental impact of the pipeline—each coming in with essentially the same conclusion.

Earlier this month, the US Department of State issued a 2,000-page draft report on the potential environmental impact of the pipeline. As Business Week concluded: “Overall, the report does not raise any huge environmental red flags.” Yet, the Obama Administration has blocked construction of the 875 mile segment of the pipeline which would carry crude oil produced from Canada’s oil sands to US refineries in the Gulf Coast.

Despite the widespread public approval for the pipeline and the report’s conclusion that “other options to get the oil from Canada to US Gulf Coast refineries are worse for climate change,” the State Department made no recommendation for or against the project moving ahead. Instead, Kerri-Ann Jones, State’s as­sistant secretary for Oceans and Inter­national Environmental and Scientific Affairs, told reporters, “We’re looking for feedback now from the public to help us shape this going forward” and “We’re very anxious to have a lot of public comment.” Interestingly, the government has already received millions of comments on the pipeline.

It is a complicated matter.

Environmental activists—who are major Obama backers—have been roaring opposition to the pipeline and development of the oil sands resource for years and just last month staged a rally and engaged in civil disobedience in Washington.

They aren’t happy that the latest report didn’t predict a host of environmental catastrophes.  One outspoken opponent is actress Daryl Hannah, who, along with Robert Kennedy Jr., Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune, and dozens of others, was arrested for attaching herself to the White House gates. Hannah dismisses the new report saying it is: “bogus” and “totally wrong, flat out totally wrong.” These environmental activists think President Obama, who has the last say in the matter, should have slammed the door closed long ago.

On the other hand there are several major labor unions, also big supporters of Obama, who favor proceeding with the project, which promises to create tens of thousands of jobs. Then there are the Canadians to think of, they badly want a friendly, nearby market for their oil (already Canada is the leading supplier of foreign crude to the United States).

And, of course, there are the people. Here’s what the Heritage Foundation says about Keystone: “The project will accommodate up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day, create some 179,000 jobs on American soil, and continue good trade relations with a close ally. The benefits won’t stop with the oil sector, though—the Keystone project will have a positive ripple effect even in areas without the pipeline that will provide goods and services to support the pipeline.”

Environmental activists have pegged their opposition to climate change alarmism. But even the State Department report dismisses such concerns, essentially because blocking the pipeline would not prevent the production of crude oil from Canada’s oil sands. The truth is, environmental groups oppose any use or expansion of fossil fuels in our economy. In a recent debate broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio, Sierra Club’s Brune advocated keeping two-thirds of all the world’s oil, coal, and gas reserves “in the ground.”

Factions in Canada have already made it known that the market for oil in China is growing by leaps and bounds, so if production from the oil sands doesn’t flow south to their US neighbors, it can move west to the coast and go by tanker to China—where China’s environmental laws and oil refining industry is not nearly as advanced as the US. Increased emissions would undoubtedly be significant.

Such a development should be of great concern to environmental activists, who know that China is already the number one emitter of so-called greenhouse gases and currently accounts for 70 percent of new emissions each year—and expanding. Acknowledging that the world will continue its reliance on fossil fuels, Brune says: “The fossil fuels that are produced have to be produced according to the highest standard in terms of protecting our air, our water, our wildlands, and our climate.” If that is really his position, Brune should be campaigning for the pipeline, not blocking it and thereby sending it to China.

A decision on the Keystone XL pipeline should be an easy one for the Administration. Charles Krauthammer calls the decision “the most open and shut case I have ever seen” and says that if Obama refuses the pipeline, “it will really show how partisan considerations way outweigh the national interest.” With high unemployment still dogging the US labor force, the quick creation of jobs to construct the pipeline and the long-term ripple effects throughout the economy should be welcome. So, too, should be the significant economic effects that will ultimately produce billions of dollars in tax revenues for local, state, and federal coffers.

The other significant benefit of the XL pipeline would be increased energy security and reduced imports that come by tanker from the Persian Gulf and Venezuela (Venezuelan crude is even “dirtier” than what we get from Canada’s oil sands). Can anyone doubt that getting a larger percentage of our oil supplies from a friendly neighbor would be better than continued reliance on less secure foreign sources?

Combined with the growing production of US oil—and the reduction in demand due to the poor economy and increased efficiency of motor vehicles—the addition of Canadian crude would move us closer to the goal of energy self-sufficiency.

Instead of signaling support, the Administration has delayed and delayed—wanting “addition information.” The additional information is in, now a decision is delayed by a 45-day comment period, before a 90-day review process begins. Some reports project a September decision. Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada’s president of energy and oil pipelines, says “If a decision is pushed past September, the company faces choosing between spending more or delaying startup until mid-2015.” And delay seems to be the name of the game because, according to NASA scientist James Hansen, “fully exploiting the tar sands would effectively mean ‘game over’ for the climate.”

This article was submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon, who serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


Final NM Legislative Session Update March 17, 2013

Posted on 17. Mar, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics

Suspenseful Final Minutes of Session – “Fix it” Session Fixes Much

Taxes Cut to Encourage Business Development

Soundbite with Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle Avail at: http://youtu.be/QGdjBgLtScQ

Senate applauds as session ends: http://youtu.be/BP_jitvKSeo

Santa Fe – The “fix it” legislative session ended with state lawmakers successfully tackling numerous challenges facing the state, and the session ended in suspense. As the clock ticked down to the noon sine die, a compromise tax cut was passed by both chambers with one minute to share.  It is on its way to the Governor’s office.

Many important pieces of legislation to address New Mexico’s needs were passed unanimously in the Senate indicating the Senate worked diligently and respectfully together to address critical issues.

In the final minutes of the 60-day session, a compromise bill to encourage corporations to expand their operations in New Mexico passed the legislature. The bill that created suspense addresses a number of items including restoring the TV show tax credit that was just limited to that industry. The governor had vetoed a previous bill with the TV show tax credit  because she said she  had not received a rate tax cut for all corporations.

The provisions of the TV show tax credit were amended into the corporate tax cut in the final minutes of the session.  The Corporate Tax rate would be reduced from 7.6% to 5.9% over a five year phase- in. The tax savings would be over $8 million for the first year to over $80 million in tax savings the fifth year.  “I think it is going to send a message that if you come to this state, we are going to be on your side instead of businesses always wondering if their success is going to depend on what legislators decide.” Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle said at the close of the 2013 session. “These two or three tax cuts are really going to help with recruiting businesses and corporations.”

Three important fixes to better address the insolvency of public funds passed both chambers and are on their way to the governor’s office. A fix to the unemployment insurance fund also passed both chambers while the fate of Legislative Lottery Scholarship Program fix was not known in the final minutes.

“There were a number of problems that needed fixing this session and the Senate worked hard to tackle them,”  Senator  Ingle said.  “Some of the fixes will become law and some will need to be addressed at future sessions. I am especially impressed with the seven new Republican Senators who were very successful in their first session to pass important legislation for their districts and for the state in the Senate.  They hit the road running and they never stopped. This freshman class of Republican Senators  is  a very impressive group. They presented critical analysis of the legislation, and they debated the issues. I look for to continued great things from them going forward.”

The  State Senate  passed a balanced state budget. The budget is being sent to the governor for her action.  Highlights of the budget that will operate state government in fiscal 2014 include:

Overall operating budget:

$5.9 billion state spending plan

$246 million increase in state spending

4.4% increase from this year’s level

The largest budget item is Public Education  K-12:

$2.57 billion to Public Education, 4.6% increase, $112 million increase

Two of the three major bills were designed to fix the severe funding problems that have left public retirement funds insolvent were sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle. Senator Ingle also carried the bill to fix the Unemployment Insurance program situation.

INSOLVENT FUND FIXES

Education Retirement

Currently 37,000 retirees, 42,000 currently vested, 53,000 non-vested

SB 115a, sponsored by Senator Ingle,  makes numerous changes to the ERB. “This assures a healthier teacher pension plan, without changes, there might not be a retirement in the future,” Ingle said. The fix includes:

Increases employee contributions

Maintains employer contributions at levels enacted in 2005

Increases the age to quality for the cost of living adjustment for new hires

Requires minimum age of 55 to receive retirement benefits that are not reduced

State Employee Retirement Fix-

SB 27- also sponsored by Senator Ingle, shores up the pension system for over 86,000 public employees. Their annual cost of living increase would be 2% rather than the current 3% in order to close the gap between $6 billion in assets and cost of future benefits. Also require employees contribute an additional 1.5% of their salaries into the pension fund. Those hired after June of 2013 would have to work longer before they qualify for their pension.

Judicial Retirement Fix- attempts to address solvency.

Unemployment Insurance program

Its sponsor, Senator Ingle, said the bill assures adequate reserves and fairer premium rates.

Fairer rates based on employers’ use of fund

Workforce Solutions sets formula, assures soundness

Implemented in 2015

Legislative Lottery Scholarship- To shore up this fund to provide scholarships to New Mexico colleges for New Mexico high school graduates, the  Senate voted 40-0 to use a quarter of the payments, around $40 million, from the  tobacco settlement to help pay for the lottery scholarship program.  The Senate also passed a memorial to study solutions to the dwindling fund.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Republican Senators introduced various pieces of legislation to help small business and the Senate passed bills to improve the state’s economic health.

Capital Outlay: The New Mexico State Senate passed a bill to invest $222 million into vital infrastructure for New Mexico.   Senators said the investment will help create economic development opportunities throughout the entire state. Funding comes from the extractive industries, mostly from oil and gas production.

Senator Sue Wilson Beffort (R-Sandia Park) sponsored a bill passed by the Senate to help revitalize small towns in rural NM by lowering taxes on microbrewery production. Senator Pat Woods (R-Broadview) would help revitalize by the Frontier Communities Programs that passed the Senate.

The viability of the $209 million Spaceport in Southern New Mexico received the much needed law to limit liability lawsuits against suppliers.

Senator Neville’s bill  to assure clean water tanks in New Mexico cities and towns passed both chambers and is headed to the governor’s office.

The Senate and House passed a bill to boost the TV industry in the state. It would increase to 30 percent the rebate for money spent on TV production if they shoot at least six programs in a single season.  The governor vetoed this bill.

All Republican Senators voted against raising the state minimum wage to $8.50 an hour from the current $7.50. But being in the minority, the minimum wage passed the Senate. The wage would be the highest in the region and Republicans feared it would kill business opportunities in the state.

Senate Minority Whip Bill Payne (R-Albuquerque)  sponsored a bill exempting  UNM from a special utility fee, encouraging its own renewable energy generation.

A bill sponsored by Senator John Ryan (R-Albuquerque) passed both chambers. It is  to encourage more  tourism and economic development by allowing  New Mexico restaurants and bars to be more competitive by extending Sunday sales of liquor.

A bill passed both chambers, sponsored by Senator Sander Rue (R-Albuquerque)  makes it easier to apply online for professional and occupational licenses. “It is time we gave up the typewriter and move into the 21st Century,” Senator Rue said.

A novel bill sponsored by Senator Bill Sharer (R-Farmington) was introduced to repeal nearly every sales tax and income tax and replace them with a 2% across-the-board consumption tax. “Simplifying  the entire system increases economic opportunities and retains the same revenue for the state.”

A bill sponsored by Senator Carroll Leavell (R-Jal) passed both chambers. It fixes a mistake in the law to assure the rural job tax credit actually creates new jobs.

A bill introduced to invest $2.5 million in state money to mitigate the damage caused by the drought in the lower Pecos river basin and the Carlsbad irrigation district service area was sponsored by Senator Leavell.

A bill is on its way to the Governor’s office was sponsored by Senator Pat Woods (R-Broadview) . It  allows boy scouts to purchase an inexpensive fishing license.

There were also Senate bills introduced to:

help military families obtain professional licenses easier in the state. Sponsored by Senator Bill Burt (R-Alamogordo.)

exempt military retirees from state income tax to spur economic development.

increase alcohol training and reduce to a misdemeanor mistake of serving to a minor. Sponsored by Senator Burt.

eliminate the double taxation on Bio Diesel  fuels delivered to the state. Sponsored by Senator Ingle.

protect consumers regarding fertilizers and soil conditioners. Sponsored by Senator Woods.

change existing liquor laws to provide for more available licenses to increase economic opportunities in the state. Sponsored by Senator Ron Griggs (R-Alamogordo).

bill to end Day Light Savings, sponsored by Senator Cliff Pirtle’s (R-Roswell).

end skills and knowledge test for hired custom harvester drivers sponsored by Pirtle.

PUBLIC SAFETY/ END CORRUPTION

Anti-corruption bill sponsored by Senate Minority Caucus Chair Steve Neville (R-Farmington) passed  both chambers is being  sent to the governor’s office. If signed into law, it will change the makeup of the State Investment Council so the $16 billion permanent fund can become better secured and better invested for future generations.  Senator Neville sponsored another bill on its way to the governor’s office to allow defendants to be charged more of their probation and parole costs.

Senator Mark Moores’(R-Albuquerque) bill became law to provide that police dogs be offered first to their trainers or handlers when the dogs retire from service.

Senator Sander Rue’s (R-Albuquerque) bill is on the governor’s desk to increase penalties for procurement code violations, as well as increase transparency, making it more difficult to bride state officials for state work.  Both chambers also passed Senator Rue’s bill to allow CYFC to conduct criminal history checks prior to placing a child in a home when there is an emergency.

Additional bills were introduced to:

remove the statute of limitations for murder in the 2nd degree.

obligate everyone to report child abuse

crack down on drunk drivers’ who use their vehicles as weapons.

increase careless driving penalties if someone dies or is seriously hurt.

allow ignition interlocks for certain DWI crimes to allow people to be productive citizens.

seize campaign funds and throw out of office immediately guilty corrupt government officials.

prohibit naming public buildings after living people.

allow sheriff and police to have more vehicle choices to catch criminals.

make cell phones and electronic devices contraband in prison.

lessen  punishment for not wearing a lifejacket.

allow school districts to decide whether 3 employees can have a handgun in school for production.

require background checks for EMTs.

Protect some state employees with protective license plates.

Require voter rolls to be checked to ensure that noncitizens are not registered to vote in New Mexico.  If they are registered to vote illegally, the bill allows a court process to cancel that voter registration.

allow school districts to decide if up to three employees could have a conceal carry  handgun to protect the schoolchildren and educators.

EDUCATION

Senator Craig Brandt’s (R-Albuquerque) bill requiring public schools to allow homeschoolers to take classes and be paid for it, is headed to the governor’s desk.

SB 260 that would have given early intervention help to students deficient in reading from kindergarten through second grade, and to insure no child is promoted beyond the 3rd grade who cannot read,  was tabled in committee.

The fate of Public Education Department Secretary Hanna Skandera was discussed at length in the Senate Rules committee in Scandera’s confirmation hearing. No vote was ever allowed to be taken.

Also introduced:

A bill sponsored by Senator Gay Kernan (R-Hobbs) was designed to keep costs down for students who need to take an exam to receive a high school equivalency diploma passed the Senate. She sponsored another bill to give public school districts an additional year of budget flexibility to deal with continuing  budget shortfalls.

HEALTH  CARE

There was a bill to encourage private long-term insurance program to give New Mexicans more choice while allowing them to retain more of their estate for their heirs when they eventually go on Medicaid was sponsored by Senator Lee Cotter (R-Las Cruces.)

Affordable Care Act requires a state operated Health Insurance Exchange. The Senate passed legislation that would establish a state operated exchange.

Other initiatives:

Driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants – The compromise bill, SB  to stop issuing driver’s license to most undocumented immigrants passed the  Senate.  A House bill, HB 606, to change the way driver’s licenses are given to illegal immigrants was awaiting action in the Senate.

Gun Control-  HB 77- Requires background check between one private citizen and another private citizen at gun shows, taking away property ownership rights by inserting a 3rd party into the sale and nowhere is that allowed in the constitution.

PRC Reform- SB 8- the Corporations Division would move to the Secretary of State’s office. HB 47 would create a separate Insurance Division and remove it from the PRC.

There were several attempts to draw money from the state land grant permanent fund. There was also debate to return straight ticket voting to state law.

The House voted on a bill to lower the penalties for small amounts of marijuana.

Senate passed a bill to allow voters to make online changes to their voter registration information.  HB 588 “pilot community engagement team” to provide help to mentally ill before they reach a crisis point.

At the close of the session Saturday, not all of the action in the House and the ultimate action by the governor were known.

This End of Session Report was submitted by Diane Kinderwater of the New Mexico State Senate Republican Office. Ms. Kinderwater can be reached at 505/986-4702

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An open letter to New Mexico’s 2013 college graduates

Posted on 14. Mar, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Education

Dear Student,

Your big day is about to arrive. In just a few short months you will sever your academic umbilical cord and catapult yourself into the uncharted waters of the job market.

Now I know there are many people (maybe even your own family members) who have told you to stay in school just a little while longer to get your Masters Degree. There are also some who’ve said, “In these dire employment times! Get a government job.” There’s even a third group that has suggested you pack your bags and head out of state because there’s nothing for you here. I don’t blame you if you’re in a quandary. I would be too.

No amount of well-meaning backward looks to “when I graduated college,” will help you make this critical decision, but make it you must. There really should have been a mandatory course in Crystal ball gazing 101 that could have prepared you for your future, but there wasn’t. This is one of the most important decisions you will have made during your entire four years of undergraduate study, and depending on your choice, it could have a tremendous influence on your life.

If you are a New Mexico native and have your ‘people’ here, the obvious question is, “Do you want to leave your support group behind and move out-of-state in search of employment?” For close-knit families, this is a tough one. Who wants to see a son or daughter pack up a U-Haul and motor out of sight? Not many, I’d wager.

Those of us who’ve lived farther than a day’s drive from home know what I mean when I say that moving away is a growth experience and hard to duplicate when you’re living with your parents. Moving out of one’s comfort zone sometimes means actually moving out of one’s comfort zone, physically, but these moves needn’t be traumatic. They do require a fair amount of planning, though.

Normally, my thoughts don’t automatically go out to college students, but after seeing a powerpoint generated by UNM’s BBER (Business Research Office) that painted a pretty dire picture of the New Mexico of the near future, I suddenly had the urge to do a Paul Revere, saddle up my horse and warn the students that the red ink was coming and they needed to take cover!

Then I came back to earth and realized that they’ve probably been thinking about their employment options and future for years and have a pretty good handle on what kind of work they can get. As a card-carrying member of the so-called baby boom generation, I’ve been pretty fortunate.

Apart from a dicey time in the oil crisis seventies and the recession of the mid-eighties, America has been able to offer a job (not necessarily the best paying job) to anyone who wanted one, providing you were a high school graduate or weren’t living in a part of the country hit by severe fiscal drought.

These days, even a college education won’t guarantee you a job, especially if your degree is in a less commercially-relevant or marketable area. Yes, I’m speaking of the arts here. You know who you are psych majors, art majors, etc.  I have some gratuitous advice for you now, so listen up. Here are your options:

For the ‘softer’ degreed students (liberal arts/humanities):

Option #1: stay at home and add another different degree to your education, this time one that can get you a job.

Option #2: join the army and get some practical world experience. Book learnin’ and boot camp are a good combination; ask any would-be employer.

Option #3: apply for a position with an NGO (non-government organization) to get some entry-level experience.

Option #4: join the Peace Corps and see the world for a couple of years.

Option #5: get a government job, but promise yourself to quit after four years.

For the ‘harder’ degreed students (science and business):

Option #1: Do some research on prospective employers’ cultures and make a short list of where you think you could make a difference – for them and for you.

Option #2: Take a short-term intern position if you can’t find a full-time position. Anything on your resume is better than nothing at all.

Option #3: If the New Mexico pickings are lean, move to a nearby state (try Texas for awhile; it’s close enough but not too far away).

Option #4: Find some friends and start your own small business.

There are a couple things I want you to remember, though. Your life is your life. It’s a work in progress and may take you far from your chosen field. Just be sure to keep your eyes, ears and your options open and be willing to re-invent yourself. Success, if not satisfaction, is often built on adjusting our expectations and re-positioning ourselves to changing circumstances. Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy the ride.

- Editor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January Home Sales Off and Running

Posted on 14. Mar, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy

970 home sales were reported to the REALTORS® Association of New Mexico (RANM) for January 2013.  This is over 19% more sales than January 2012 and nearly 24% more than the number of sales reported in January 2011.  Only four counties reported a drop in the number of sales for January 2013 compared to January 2012.

“What a great way to start 2013,” said Cathy Colvin, RANM President.  “Inventories are still low in many markets, but the pent-up demand for homes is creating activity in markets around the state.”

According to RANM CEO M. Steven Anaya, “Prices are still showing decreases from previous years. The good news, however, is that median price decreases are getting smaller with each month.  While distressed sales are still high by historical standards, they have fallen from their peaks in most markets, helping to alleviate the downward pressure on home prices in many areas.”

January’s reported median for New Mexico properties was $159,500.  While this is just over 4% lower than the January 2011 median of $168,500, it is only 1.1% lower than the January 2012 median of $161,240.  Median price indicates half the properties sold for more and half for less.

Tight lending standards, uncertainty in the market, and pending federal legislation still play a role in preventing an unqualified housing recovery.  Americans however, still want to call themselves homeowners.  A recent NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® survey showed nearly 60 percent of current renters plan to purchase a home in the next two years.

The trends and numbers reported are only a snapshot of market activity.  If you are interested in buying or selling, consult a REALTOR familiar with your market area; he/she can provide information on specific trends in your neighborhood.

Statistical information and trends are based on information furnished by New Mexico Member Boards and MLSs to U. S. House Stats. Current reporting participants are: Greater Albuquerque Association of REALTORS, Las Cruces Association of REALTORS MLIS, New Mexico Multi-Board MLS (Artesia, Carlsbad, Clovis/Portales, Deming, Gallup, Grants, Hobbs, Las Vegas, Sierra County areas), Otero County Board of REALTORS, Roswell Association of REALTORS, Ruidoso/Lincoln County Association of REALTORS, Santa Fe Association of REALTORS, San Juan County Board of REALTORS, Silver City Regional Association of REALTORS, and the Taos County Association of REALTORS. Reports represent single family residential data only.  Information does not necessarily represent all activity in any market/county.  Figures based on reports run 2/18/13.  Visit www.nmrealtor.com (housing trends) for county and board statistics.

This article was submitted by the REALTORS Association of New Mexico is one of the state’s largest trade associations, representing over 5,800 members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate market.

“Three-fer” from Marita Noon on Energy

Posted on 14. Mar, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Energy/Environment

Article 1: Imagine tax revenues that exceed the cost of running the government

The sequester happened. Nothing happened—though we all understand there will be impacts down the road. But, it didn’t have to happen.

Sequester,” a word foreign to most of us, “is a term used to describe the practice of using mandatory spending cuts in the federal budget if the cost of running the government exceeds either an arbitrary amount or the gross revenue it brings during the fiscal year.” In short, it is what happens when the cost of running the government exceeds the revenue.

Washington only talks about two choices when the cost of running the government exceeds the revenues: raising taxes and cutting spending. Taxes were raised as a part of the fiscal cliff deal. Sequester fills out the other half of the equation by cutting spending.

But there is an overlooked option: creating new wealth—which is different from printing new money.

Creating new wealth involves producing something of value which didn’t exist before, but that someone will pay for, bringing new money into the system. Our personal budget generally works this way: we have a job that we get paid for. We use that money to pay bills and buy stuff.

That same money cycles through the system and ultimately comes back to us in the form of a paycheck. And the cycle continues. But if, one day, you were digging in your backyard and you found a pot of gold—that puts new wealth into your personal system. You can sell the gold, creating new wealth for yourself.

As a country, our bills and the stuff we buy—the cost of running the government— has exceeded the revenue for some time. The same is true for many states, counties, and cities—often resulting in bankruptcy. Not every city, county, or state has a pot of gold, but in the form of natural resources—many do.

Some choose to dig up the pot of gold, creating wealth resulting in a healthy community and government. Some choose not to and instead are back to the same two choices: raising taxes and cutting spending.

On January 10, I was at a county commission hearing in New Mexico’s San Miguel County. This poor, rural county in northeastern New Mexico has geology that leads the experts to believe that there might be oil or natural gas under their feet. Several surrounding counties do have known resources and people who own the land and production companies are eager to explore to see if there is, in fact, a “pot of gold.” As is to be expected these days, there is plenty of opposition, scaring folks with talk of supposed water contamination and other calamities.

The hearing opened with a Skype presentation from the executive director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. He clearly stated that the group’s goal were to stop or block production or to create so many regulations that exploration and development was cost-prohibitive. Next a parade of naysayers, with a sprinkling of supporters, addressed the county commissioners.

The commissioners asked questions throughout the day-long process. However, they really perked up at the testimony of two county officials from the oil-producing corner of the state: Greg Niebert—County Commissioner for Chaves County; and Mike Gallagher—County Manager for Lea County.

Both talked about the decades, during which fracking has been used in their counties, with only positive impacts: their schools are fully funded, unemployment is virtually nonexistent (one proclaimed that anyone who can pass a drug test can get a job), and their economies are thriving. I could almost see the dollar signs rolling through the eyes of San Miguel County Commissioners like a slot machine spinning.

Niebert produced some papers containing a resolution that the Chaves County Commission had just passed that morning. The gist of the document said that the oil and gas counties of the state were tired of supporting all the other counties—especially those that had resources, but elected not to use them.

In New Mexico, revenues generated from resources extracted from state lands fill the Land Grant Permanent Fund—which is the largest contributor to the state’s schools and hospitals. Overall, the industry is responsible for nearly half of the state’s budget—which generally has a surplus. The resolution proposed that the schools and hospitals in the counties with resources that chose not to extract them should not get the benefit of the counties that do.

That is New Mexico’s story. But the theme runs through other states that are creating new wealth: Texas, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania—with a welcome increase in jobs and tax revenues. Each has very low unemployment and a thriving economy. Contrast those states to two of the states hardest hit in this time of economic demise: California and Nevada.

Like New Mexico’s San Miguel Country, both have natural resources, but unlike the poor, rural county, the states’ resources are known. While San Miguel is considering a drilling ban, the troubled states have an effective ban and a big part of their pot of gold is on federally owned land. Policies and regulations could prevent the states from accessing their individual pots of gold (Nevada has the Chainman Shale and California the Monterey Shale), which would create new wealth for local communities as well as state and federal governments. David Pratt, president of Santa Maria Energy, says: “the Monterey is California’s way out of the ‘fiscal toilet.’”

California’s Senate Republican Leader, Bob Huff, agrees. He told me: “California sits on two-thirds of America’s shale oil reserves, which is an economic gold mine just waiting to be safely extracted. Tapping into this reserve could cause an oil boom that would dwarf North Dakota’s oil riches that have given the state a $3.2 billion budget surplus and the nation’s lowest unemployment rate at 3.2%.”

“I am committed to new job and business creation for all Californians. We should not ignore recent technological innovations that have released a bounty of wealth in other oil-producing states and put people back to work. It makes absolutely no sense to create these new jobs and wealth in countries who are not friendly to the United States, when we can put our own citizens to work and gain energy independence at the same time.”

“But alas,” Matt Insley, a specialist on commodities and natural resources, says, “this is California. The political and environmental red tape in the state have brought energy development to a virtual halt.”

The New York Times reports: “The oil companies’ plans for the Monterey Shale are already drawing increasing scrutiny from environmental groups.” Despite the fact that “oil companies have engaged in fracking in California for decades,” Kassie Siegel, a lawyer at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), calls it “one of the most, if not the most, important environmental issue in California.”

Meanwhile, people are leaving the state, houses are being foreclosed, and unemployment levels are the highest in the country.

Though less-widely reported, Nevada faces a similar opportunity and opposition.

Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. has leases for 350,000 acres in Elko County. They plan to spend $130 million over four years to ramp up operations. However, the Las Vegas Review Journal cites the federally owned land as “the greatest limitation Nevada faces in getting its resources to market. … Much of Noble’s plan requires Washington’s blessing. Midwestern states, which are composed almost entirely of private land, have no such problem, hence their prosperity.”

As we’ve seen with the Keystone pipeline, it is expected that the greens will “put on a full-court press to block the project.” Regardless of the science or history, the greens stake their position. Actress Daryl Hannah dismisses the State Department’s recent report that all but endorses the pipeline as “bogus” and “totally wrong, flat out totally wrong.” Likewise, despite decades of safe fracking, Rob Mrowka, who heads the Nevada CBD office, says: “Fracking is not a good thing. We don’t feel there is a safe way to do it.”

California and Nevada—along with New York—have known resources, yet they depend on other locales for much of their energy. What if the states that sell their resources to California, decided to follow Chaves County’s lead and told California they are on their own? California is using the resources, but sending their money out of state—which helps the other states and hurts California.

Gabe Garcia, an assistant field officer for the Bureau of Land Management in Bakersfield, CA, reports: “the government receives 12.5 percent of revenues from the oil retrieved. … Last year we brought in $190 million.” Half of that goes to the state of California; the other half goes to the federal government. And the $190 million figure is before the Monterey Shale takes off.

Insley believes “A change in tone from the political side” could fuel a turnaround. It is the politics that is holding back a boom in new wealth creation and as California Senator Huff said: “It makes absolutely no sense.”

Sequester didn’t have to happen. Allowing, even encouraging, development of our natural resources would bring welcome new tax revenues that might even exceed the cost of running the government.

– end article 1 –

Article 2:  Can Global Warmists Get Their Story Straight?

Two of catastrophic climate change’s staunchest supporters have been out on the stump promoting their cause—with conflicting statements.

On February 20, Secretary of State John Kerry gave his first speech, as Secretary, at the University of Virginia where he offered a glimpse of how he sees tackling climate change as part of his job—as is “reducing nuclear threat,” “fighting corruption in Nigeria,” and breaking “the cycle of poverty, poor nutrition and hunger,”

On the same day, February 20, NASA’s James Hansen was speaking in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the Lensic Theater, with a follow-up presentation the next day at the Santa Fe Institute where he proposed “a steep energy tax to curb global warming.”

In Kerry’s introductory comments he says: “So our challenge is to … offer even the most remote place on earth the same choices that have made us strong and free.” Later, he launches into his climate change litany, and talks about developing and deploying “the clean technologies that will power a new world”—yet the inefficient, intermittent, and uneconomical “clean technologies” are not what made America “strong and free.” America became a superpower on the basis of energy that was abundant, available, and affordable. Now, in the cause of climate change, we want to deny developing countries the same benefits we’ve had?

Additionally, Kerry acknowledges: “We are all in this one together. No nation can stand alone.” After 15 years of supporters’ best efforts, the global community has rejected the Kyoto Protocol—which aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized countries on the theory that it would stop global warming. It expired December 31, 2012. The world’s biggest emitters refused to sign on, the US never ratified it, and Canada has since completely backed out. The UK is likely not far behind.

Last week, London’s Daily Express featured a story titled: “Blackout Britain: EU environmental directive puts millions at risk of power cuts”—which concluded with the following: “We are facing disaster on energy prices. The dynamic has changed, but the thinking hasn’t.”

A few days earlier, February 20, another Daily Express headline addressed the panic the UK is facing: “Cheaper energy is more important than going green.” The “cheaper energy” article cites “rising energy prices” that have “gone up 159 per cent since 2004” and quotes Energy Secretary Ed Davey as saying: “energy prices are now out of control.” The author states: “Our energy policy is no longer dictated by the need to keep supply plentiful and cheap which for decades was the basis of all planning.

Today energy policy is framed with only one factor in mind: satisfying the green lobby.” He concludes: “in the UK we let the green lobby sneer at fracking and barely even pay lip-service to its possibilities, at the same time as we close down productive power plants and stand back watching while prices go through the stratosphere.”

It is true, Secretary Kerry, that “no one nation can stand alone.” But he has promised we will rise to meet the challenge of tackling climate change—rising energy prices, that is.

Even Dr. Pachauri, the chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change acknowledges a “17-year pause in global temperature rises, confirmed recently by Britain’s Met Office.” At Melbourne’s Deakin University, Dr. Pachauri said: “People have to question these things and science only thrives on the basis of questioning.” He continued: “no doubt about it,” it is good for controversial issues to be “thrashed out in the public arena.”

Which takes us to Dr. Hansen’s presentations in Santa Fe—primarily attended by sycophants carrying copies of his book: Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity. However, four scientists also attended—a meteorologist, a physicist, a biologist, and a geologist.

No transcript of the speech is available, however the Santa Fe New Mexican covered Hansen’s presentation at the Institute, during which he predicted catastrophes, such as rising seas and species extinctions “if carbon-based fuels continue to be used at the same rate as today.”

He believes “efforts to stem climate change will be ineffectual as long as fossil fuels remain the cheapest form of energy,” and therefore he “proposed a new tax for carbon emissions from oil, gas and coal.” Yet, he stated: “Government shouldn’t be making decisions as to what the next energy sources are. Let the marketplace make the decision.” He wants a tax to make fossil fuels unattractive, but the government should let the marketplace decide?

“That wasn’t the only nonsensical idea he presented,” the scientists told me.

Robert Endlich, the meteorologist, reported: “One item after another struck me as being completely at odds with measurements. For instance, Hansen claimed Earth’s energy balance is out of balance, and we are warming rapidly, but recent global surface temperatures of land and water have not increased and, in fact, many measures show cooling over the past 17-19 years.

In the US, there has not been a new state maximum temperature record set since 1995, and, in spite of the claims to the contrary, July,1936, is still the warmest month on record, set when CO2 was less than 300 parts per million. CO2 is now 395 PPM.”

Bernie McCune holds degrees in both engineering and biology and has worked with both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “Hansen admitted there is still some question,” McCune said. “But, his presentation was mostly political and didn’t prove that CO2 is the problem; it didn’t show that humans had anything to do with it.”

Jerry Clark, the physicist, who has spent 30 years tracking data from the relay satellite system, talked to one of the organizers before the meeting. The young man was surprised to learn that not all scientists agreed with Hansen. Clark feels frustrated because “the opportunity for opposing views to receive equal time and billing with Dr. Hansen does not exist; nor will the apologists engage in data comparisons.”

Instead of the short-term charts Hansen presented, Clark wants to see the data and the real records. Drawing from his experiences on his college debate team, Clark was surprised that “Hansen didn’t even try to justify his thesis of man-made global warming.”

John Clema looks at the geologic history when he says: “Hansen’s claim of ‘extinction of 30 percent to 50 percent of animal species’ is nothing more than shameless spreading of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. More than 98% of all the plants and animals that we currently know of are from the fossil record.

There is no evidence that connects CO2 to these extinctions other than the strong possibility of linking huge volcanic activity to some timeframes where extinctions have occurred. In the geologic record, there are times when we’ve had much higher CO2 than at present—yet there are few recognizable extinctions. Nor is there any link between CO2 from fossil fuels and global warming. We are still in an interglacial period were warming could be expected—but Hansen can’t prove any part of this is due to human activity. Warm and wet is good for our species, cold and dry is not.”

At the end of Hansen’s presentation, there was a brief question and answer time. Only four questioners got answers. In response to Endlich’s question: “Observations show 10 years of warming from 1988 to 1998, but steady and by many measures, even falling temperatures since—a period over 17 years where the temperature has not risen at all.

The total rise since 1988 has been only 0.2-0.3C. To what do you attribute the poor performance of that prediction?” Hansen first acknowledged the sun’s involvement, then he denied that the globe had not warmed—despite Pachauri’s admission that the warming had stalled.

Pachauri’s February 24 speech invited traditional scientific give and take, yet Hansen refused additional discussion with the scientists. When Endlich showed data from the Vostok and the Greenland ice cores, Hansen blew him off, saying: “you are wrong!” End of discussion.

The Santa Fe New Mexican’s headline for Hansen’s visit was: “a steep energy tax to curb global warming.” Perhaps Hansen was tipping his hand, confirming the rumor that Obama will approve the long-delayed, but much-needed Keystone pipeline if Congress will approve a carbon tax. Tit for tat.

Just what our teetering economy needs: higher energy prices. What planet do these guys come from?

– end article 2 –

Article 3: Wall Street walks all over the White House

The nomination of Jack Lew for Treasury Secretary has uncovered a lot of dirt about the man, but it also has a lot of dust swirling, regarding the incestuous relationship between the Obama administration and Wall Street that the White House would probably prefer to have kept buried. The story surely tarnishes the President’s image as “a man of the people, standing up to Wall Street.”

In Lew we find much of what President Obama publicly derides—but, as Forbes reports, is “prepared to accept from his closest associates.”

In 2009, Obama said it was the “height of irresponsibility” and “shameful” for “executives at major financial firms who turned to the American people, hat in hand, when they were in trouble, even as they paid themselves their customary lavish bonuses.” And added: “For top executives to award themselves these kinds of compensation packages in the midst of this economic crisis isn’t just bad taste—it’s bad strategy—and I will not tolerate it as President.” Yet, Lew, during a short stint at Citi received an “obscene” bonus of $950,000—after we, the taxpayers, bailed out Citi to the tune of $476.2 billion.

In both the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, Obama railed against investments in the Caymans. In 2008, during a Democrat primary debate, he talked about “closing tax loopholes and tax havens” and specifically addressed a building in the Cayman Islands that supposedly houses 12,000 corporations.

“That’s either the biggest building or the biggest tax scam on record.” In 2012, the Obama campaign vilified Mitt Romney for investments in Cayman accounts. Yet, Lew was invested in a Citigroup venture capital fund registered in the Cayman Islands.

Despite these, and other disconcerting discoveries—such as Lew’s executive vice president for operations position with New York University at the time NYU was receiving kickbacks from Citibank for steering student loans to the bank (Lew then left NYU for his job at Citigroup)—a Senate vote is expected to be held this week where it is believed that Lew will be confirmed as Treasury Secretary.

But, a bigger story is exposed through the litany of Lew’s lavish embarrassments—and that is the “commingling of Wall Street interests and the public trust,” as exemplified by former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.

Rubin left Treasury in 1999 and moved to Citigroup—where, it is reported, that he “advocated ratcheting up the risk-taking.” Rubin’s responsibilities at Citi were to craft the “management and strategic decisions.” As part of the enticement Citi offered, he received $15 million a year and unlimited use of the corporate jets.

“On his watch, the federal government was forced to inject $45 billion of taxpayer money into the company and guarantee some $300 billion of illiquid assets”—yet he was still paid “around $126 million in cash and stock.” Rubin’s bank-friendly policies, implemented during his time at Treasury, are believed to be what weakened the financial system and ultimately brought about the collapse.

Rubin is important to the story because Lew was hired on at Citi due to a recommendation from Rubin. Lew was with Citi from 2006 to 2009—during the financial disaster. His last position was as COO of Citi’s Alternative Investment Group—which according to Forbes, “lay at the epicenter of the financial crisis.” In the first quarter of 2008, Lew’s group lost $509 million while he was “paid $1.1 million for less than a year’s work.”

Obviously Lew learned well from Rubin.

Lew left Citi for a “full-time high level position,” as deputy secretary of state under Hillary Clinton. In 2010, he became head of the Office of Management and Budget replacing Rubin-protégé Peter Orszag, who went to Citi. (Note: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is also a Rubin protégé.)

If you are reading carefully, you’ve noted that “Citi” comes up over and over. This is no mistake. Citi and the Obama Administration appear to breathe as one.

In 2008, Citigroup was one of the Obama campaign’s biggest donors and several Citi executives served as campaign bundlers. The majority of Citigroup’s 61 lobbyists previously held government positions. Michael Froman was one such Citi executive—also serving as COO of Citi’s Alternative Investment Group—who raised campaign cash and then went to work for the Obama Administration, where he was responsible for coordinating policy on issues such as energy and climate. Froman had previously served as chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. (Other Citi/Obama connections include Richard Parsons and Luis Susman as shown in Christine Lakatos’ newest expose: Citi’s Massive “Green” Money Machine.)

In his second term, Obama has pledged to make climate change a priority. Since 2007, Citi has been committed to “climate change activities.” In fact, they brag about being “a leader in alternative energy transactions across sectors, geographies and products.” In its 2011 Global Citizenship Report, Citi crows about having the “largest market share” of US Department of Energy financings for alternative energy.

If you’ve followed the work Lakatos and I have done exposing Obama’s green-energy crony-corruption scandal, you know Citi’s claims mean that they are making big bucks from the green energy sector of the 2009 stimulus-spending spree. Lakatos has found that that 58 percent of Citi’s “clients,” listed in the documents from the “Renewable Energy Seminar” Michael Eckhart held in March 2012, have received government subsidies, the majority from the 2009 Stimulus bill, totaling approximately $16 billion of taxpayer money—and there could well be more.

Michael Eckhart joined Citigroup in February 2011, after spending the last decade as the founding President and a member of the Board of Directors of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE). Not surprisingly, within ACORE we find many of government’s green-grant “winners.” According to Chris Horner, Eckhart “helped design the Department of Energy grant programs.”

This is just a sampling of the Citigroup swamp from which Treasury Secretary nominee Lew comes. As Lew’s employment agreement with Citi—that allowed him to keep his pay perks if he left Citi for “full-time high level position with the United States government or regulatory body”—and Rubin’s enticements show: Citi likes to keep their friends close.

According to the Washington Post as Treasury Secretary Lew will be “charged with implementing new rules regulating Wall Street.” Breitbart describes the job this way: “Secretary of the Treasury is the government’s chief operating officer for the private economy. It is also the government’s chief spokesman to the world markets. The office … is meant to assure markets and the business community that America’s fiscal policy is under adult supervision.”

I question whether Lew’s motivation will be “a desire to serve the people, or an opportunity to serve himself and his friends”—as was said about Rubin. Will he assure the markets that America’s fiscal policy is under adult supervision?

This may be the one time I agree with Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who, said the following when Obama nominated Lew: “I remain extremely concerned that virtually all of his key economic advisers have come from Wall Street. In my view, we need a Treasury Secretary who is prepared to stand up to corporate America and their powerful lobbyists and fight for policies that protect the working families in our country. I do not believe Mr. Lew is that person.”

Obviously Obama will “tolerate” Wall Street walking all over the White House.

– end article 3 –

These articles were submitted by Marita Noon, author of Energy Freedom. Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Waffle Cure

Posted on 14. Mar, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics, Social/Cultural

Say what you want about Cagney, Bogart, Mitchum or Wayne, one thing is for certain; they were men of few but powerful words. Sure, sure, I know they were actors, but their characters represented something Americans used to prize highly…brevity and sincerity.

You knew where you stood when Cagney gave you that piercing look or The Duke cocked his head just before unloading a four-word answer like, “you bet I do.” Mitchum may have looked like he ate something bad and was tasting it all over again, but you stopped and waited until the moment of his seeming indigestion had passed and he had rolled out his response.

It’s almost painful to watch their old movies because I’m constantly fast-forwarding to the present, to the current crop of weasel-wordsmiths that populate America’s political or celebrity world.  You know the ones I mean, the wafflers who are simply out to evade the questions we ask them. I don’t mind telling you, I’m fed up to the rim of my barracks bag with people who cannot seem to give a straight answer to a simple question.

True, there are some questions that make us dig way down deep into the well of our personal feelings, and I can understand when someone feels that a question is just too personal to answer. I can even accept an answer like, “Sorry, I haven’t thought that one through,” but what really sticks in my craw is hearing a person go way off the reservation into the never never land of high falutin’ rhetoric.  It’s like watching a sleep walker amble around not knowing where he’s going until he finally bumps into something and wakes up.

I realize that evasion by running out the clock is a normal tactic folks use when they don’t want to answer a question, but it has to stop. I have begun to blame the interviewers who don’t press their guests. They’re the real culprits – the waffle enablers.

There are solutions, however, but they are not politically correct ones. What about mandating that all Sunday interview programs (we’ll start small and work our way up) install guest chairs with seats laced with electrical wiring? You know, the stuff that’s similar to the wiring under our heated floor tiles.

A low electrical charge would be constantly present and be sort of comforting like the heated seats in our cars. BUT, when a guest starts to stray far afield from the question, an off-stage technician would turn up the rheostat and give the guest a little jolt of the juice. Just how much would be determined by a live studio audience (very democratic, no?).

I’m confident that this simple device would do the trick and make the programs considerably more fun to watch. Imagine your least favorite politician suddenly sit up straight and answer a question honestly after receiving a little electric shock to his/her derriere!

My mind is simply overflowing with images of certain people I would like to see on the ‘hotseat.’ As a matter of fact, that’s what we would rename the talk shows: Piers Morgan: Tonight on the Hotseat, Moyers and Hotseat Co., or my favorite, 20/20 @ 220 volts.

For a period of twelve years (1975-87), Senator William Proxmire from my home state of Wisconsin gave out the Golden Fleece award to the public officials or government departments that wasted the most money. I remember one of them vividly. It was the Dept. of Education that spent over $200,000 on a curriculum package that taught college students how to watch television.

Using Proxmire’s example, we could get nominations from all over America and create our own awards ceremony for ‘America’s Biggest Wafflers’. I’m betting companies would line up around the block to sponsor our show and that eventually we’d even overtake the Oscars. What kind of trophy should we give? What else, a golden waffle iron!

- Editor

NM Legislative Session Weekly Update: March 4-8, 2013

Posted on 09. Mar, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics

The following information was provided by the New Mexico State Senate Republican Office (newest to oldest chronological order)

For Immediate Release:  Friday, March 08, 2013 Contact: 986-4702

Law Enforcement to Have More Vehicle Options

SB 396a- American-made vehicles in procurement code

Senator Steven Neville (R-Farmington)

More vehicle choices for sheriffs and police

Exempt law enforcement from current procurement code restrictions

Allow purchases of vehicles assembled outside of  the US

Santa Fe — New Mexico sheriff’s departments and police departments could soon have more choices in the models of vehicles they use to track down criminals. The law enforcement agencies from smaller towns throughout New Mexico will have more options if a bill that passed the Senate today becomes law.

SB 396a passed the Senate 36 to 1 and advances to the House.

Smaller towns tend to use the state’s bidding practice to buy vehicles for their officers. Currently, the state’s procurement code restricts them to cars, trucks and SUVs manufactured or assembled in the United States. The bill sponsored  by Senate Minority Caucus Chair Steve Neville (R-Farmington) would exempt law enforcement vehicles from the restrictions in the code.  Law enforcement agencies would be able to purchase vehicles that meet their needs from anywhere in the world.

“Land enforcement agencies from larger cities have their own procurement codes that do not necessary have the same restriction as the state’s procurement code.  Law enforcement agencies in our smaller towns that use the state’s code need to have more choices when buying vehicles to meet their needs,” Senator Neville said.  “The exemption gives them more choice.”

Senator Neville said the New Mexico Sheriff’s Association that represents 33 New Mexico Counties requested the change to give them more flexibility.

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For Immediate Release Friday, March 08, 2013 Contact: 986-4702

School District Flexibility Passes Senate

Similar Measure Passed House

SB 464 School District Solvency Flexibility

Senator Gay Kernan (R-Hobbs)

Santa Fe — SB 464, School District Solvency Flexibility, sponsored by Senator Gay G. Kernan of Hobbs, passed the Senate today to give public school districts an additional year of budget flexibility to deal with continuing budget shortfalls.  A similar measure has passed the House.  The bill will allow districts one final year of flexibility in a number of areas that directly affect their budgets: class loads, teaching loads, length of school day, staffing patterns, and purchases of instructional materials.  The waivers in the bill were first introduced in 2009 in response to school budget cuts imposed by the Legislature that year.

“No one is happy that this type of measure is needed for another year,” said Senator Kernan, “But until school budgets are restored to their pre-recession levels, districts have almost no choice but to seek flexibility.  Particularly with the threat of sequestration hanging over the heads of many districts, another year of these waivers will be vitally important for our schools.”

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For Immediate Release   Thursday, March 07, 2013 Contact: 986-4702

Bill to Eliminate Double Taxation Passes Senate

Santa Fe — The Senate passed a bill to eliminate the double taxation on special fuels delivered to New Mexico. Senate Minority Floor Leader Stuart Ingle (R-Portales) is sponsoring the bill that is now headed to the House.

The bill solves the double taxation issue by allowing a deduction for the special fuel excise tax on the biodiesel product manufactured or imported, if it is sold to a rack operator for blending or resale. Currently, the pure biodiesel is taxable twice. When it is either delivered or used directly, and when it is taxed on the entire volume of the blended fuel.

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For Immediate Release   Thursday, March 07, 2013 Contact: 986-4702

Senate Passes Bill to “End Catch-22”

Bill to Allow Ignition Interlocks After Sentence is Completed for Killing or Great Bodily Harm

SB 442- DWI Interlocks for Certain Crimes

Senator Ron Griggs (R-Alamogordo)

Change current statute

Allow ignition interlock license for those: Convicted of great bodily harm/ vehicular homicide by DWI

Qualified if: Completed serving sentence, including probation and parole  End “Catch-22” to allow people to become productive.

Santa Fe — People who have been convicted of DWI and killed or seriously injured someone and served their entire sentence would be able to drive legally if a bill that passed the Senate today becomes law. As it stands now, those people could never get a drivers’ license again.

The bill, SB 442- would allow an ignition interlock license to those convicted  of  vehicular homicide by DWI or convicted of great bodily harm by DWI. Currently, they are prevented from qualifying for an ignition interlock license.

Senator Ron Griggs (R-Alamogordo) sponsors the bill. He said those who serve their complete sentence need to be able to drive so they can be productive members of society.

“People need to be able to drive to get to work,  to get to  school or to go to court-ordered treatment programs,” Senator Griggs said. “If they are denied an interlock license, they are most likely denied an opportunity to support themselves and their families. We need to end the catch-22 they are in.”

Senator Griggs stressed that the ignition interlock license would only be issued if the person has completed their sentence for the crime, including any period of probation and parole. “Right now, they would never be able to get a drivers’ license again.”

Senator Griggs said those who are still serving their sentences for those crimes would not be eligible.

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For Immediate Release  Thursday, March 07, 2013 Contact: 986-4702

Senate Passes Small Town Businesses to get Boost from Microbrewery Tax-Lowering Bill

Video, audio at: http://youtu.be/QeKyxLkwzO0

Santa Fe — The State Senate passed a bill to help revitalize small towns and boost businesses in rural New Mexico by lowering the taxes on microbrewery production. The bill is sponsored State Senator Sue Wilson Beffort (R-Sandia Park). SB 81aa advances to the House.

SB 81aa- Liquor Tax Microbrew Volume Limit is designed to help expand the microbrewery business in New Mexico. It does that by charging a lower tax rate on 10,000 additional barrels of beer and thereby encouraging business growth.

Senator Wilson Beffort has said: “This bill is to help build up the downtown areas in rural communities like Moriarty, where the microbrewery is an attraction for tourists and for New Mexicans alike, to visit the rural setting while enjoying the gourmet-type New Mexico beers. This bill covers the small microbreweries, not the large package beer companies,” Senator Wilson Beffort said. “The tax savings would allow the microbreweries to buy more equipment to expand their production and help increase light manufacturing jobs in the area.”

The bill would help the 30 microbreweries or micro pubs and 5 packaging breweries in the state grow by lowering the tax rate on production of barrels over 5,000. It holds the liquor excise tax to $.08 per gallon charged on all barrels up to 15,000. Currently, those under 5,000 are charged $.08 and those produced from 5,000 to 15,000 are charged 33 cents more to $.41 a gallon.

“These New Mexico small businesses are at the mercy of the high tax rate in  trying to  grow their business while our neighbors to the north, Colorado, pay the lower eight cents a gallon on all beer sold within their state,” Wilson Beffort said. “Let’s boost business in our small towns by lowering tax rates.”

The Taxation and Revenue Department estimates the total recurring impact will be a loss from $830,000 in 2014 to $1.3 million in 2017 if six brewers qualify.

There is a ten year sunset on the bill and the effective date is January 1, 2014.

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For Immediate Release  Thursday, March 07, 2013  Contact: 986-4702

UNM’s Renewable Energy Field of Study to get its Own Boost of Energy

SB 321-Utility Charges for Certain Schools

Senate Minority Whip Bill Payne (R-Albuquerque)

University of New Mexico (UNM) exempt from Renewable Portfolio Act/Exempts utility charges for renewable energy 2.5% of electricity charges to invest in own renewable energy generation

$300,000 to $500,000 fee savings to be invested in renewables.

Santa Fe –  The renewable energy field of study at UNM could get its own  boost of energy if a bill that passed the Senate becomes law. It could receive a $300,000 to $500,000 boost.

SB 321, sponsored by Senate Minority Whip Bill Payne, passed the Senate unanimously and has now advanced to the House. It allows UNM to be exempt from a special utility fee charged to all utility customers  for the development of  renewable energy (by PNM.)

“This savings for UNM will go towards encouraging its own renewable energy generation at the university because it will be invested in UNM’s development and production of renewable energy,” Senator Payne said. “The savings will be invested in course and laboratory materials for students who are interested in the renewable energy field of study.” Senator Payne said the fee savings could generate as much at $300,000 to $500,000 for UNM.

SB 321 amends the Renewable Portfolio Act by exempting UNM as a political subdivision of the state. In doing so, UNM  would be exempt from the utility charge for renewable energy.  Utility customers who are exempt from the fee have an annual consumption exceeding 20 million kilowatt hours and have their own renewable generation.

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For Immediate Release  Wednesday, March 06, 2013  Contact: 505-986-4702

Tucumcari Rancher Confirmed by Senate for State Game Commission

Santa Fe — The New Mexico State Senate unanimously confirmed the appointment of Tucumcari rancher Scott  Bidegain as a member of the State Game Commission. Bidegain was sponsored by Senator Pat Woods (R-Broadview). He told his Senate colleagues that Bidegain is the epitome of a cowboy who has close encounters with wildlife.

“If you look up the definition of a cowboy you would have a picture of Scott Bidegain. He is a true American icon,” Senator Woods said on the Senate floor today. “He is also very close to wildlife as evidenced by the brace on his hand from a mountain lion bite that broke his hand.”

Bidegain said he was rescuing his dogs from a cave on his property when he  came upon a mountain lion and  the mountain lion bit him. Senator Woods said the Game Commission is fortunate to have someone of the Bidegain’s  to serve for four years on the seven member commission. Bidegain, 33,  said he will work towards  a balanced approach on the State Game Commission, “Wildlife comes first, no one else will look out for them.”

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For Immediate Release Wednesday, March 06, 2013  Contact: 986-4702

Rawson Reappointed To Four More Years as State Investment Council Hits Record High

Santa Fe – Former state senator and Las Cruces businessman Leonard Lee Rawson was unanimously reconfirmed by the New Mexico State Senate to serve four more years on the New Mexico State Investment Council. Rawson was originally appointed to the State Investment Council in April 2010. At that time, the state’s permanent fund totaled around  $13 billion dollars. The fund has grown by around four billion dollars since Rawson has been on the council. Today, the fund is at an all time high of about $17 billion dollars.

Rawson credits the great financial returns to more than a recovering market. He said the days of the pay-to-play scandals surrounding the State Investment Council are over. Decisions are now based on sound investments.

“We have cleaned house since the days of corruption surrounding the State Investment Council.  It is now totally restructured. The result has been a dramatic increase in funds,” Rawson said. “We are making decisions based on the best investments for the state, not based on who can personally benefit from the state’s billions.”

Rawson said that the council is now very engaged and has hired all new financial managers and consultants. He said last year’s over 14% return has a lot to do with the asset allocation decisions the council made.

“The council is making decisions for the right reasons now.  We are focused on the best investments and they are no longer the political decisions from the days of pay-to-play scandals,” Rawson said. “We have beaten the market because of the decisions we have made and we are paying close attention to those decisions.”

The State Investment Council manages funds in the State’s Land Grant Fund and the State’s Severance Tax Permanent Fund. Those funds are generated from royalties on the state’s lands and from taxes on what is provided from the land, such as oil, gas and minerals.

Rawson, one of 11 members on the council, is a legislative appointee. He will serve until 2017.

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For Immediate Release Tuesday, March 5, 2013  Contact: 986-4702

Senate Passes Unemployment Insurance Bill to Assure Adequate Reserves and Fairer Premium Rates

SB 334CS- Unemployment Fund Contributions and Formula

Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle

Fairer rates based on employers’ use of fund

Workforce Solutions sets formula, assures soundness

Implemented in 2015

Santa Fe — The New Mexico State Senate Passed SB 334cs, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle (R-Portales) on a vote of 40 to 2. The bill now advances to the House.

Senator Ingle said the bill improves fairness of unemployment insurance premium contribution tax rates paid by employers and contributes to the long-term health of the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund (UCTF).

The bill changes the current law so employers’ unemployment claims experience relate more closely to their unemployment tax rates to be fair to all employers when setting unemployment premium tax rates.  It would allow the Department of Workforce Solutions to set part of the formula that would be used to determine how much money businesses would be required to pay into the unemployment fund. The new formula helps to assure adequate UCTF reserves. The new formula would take effect in January 2015.

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For Immediate Release  Wednesday, March 6, 2013  Contact: 505-986-4702

Recent Committee action  from Tuesday evening on following Republican Senate Bills:

SB 521a TWO-TIERED DRIVERS’ LICENSES (Sen Ingle) SPAC Tabled 5-3

SB 532 FORFEITURE OF DWI VEHICLES (Sen. Moores) SPAC no rec to SJC 5-3

SM 72 TRUANCY & DROPOUT PREVENTION TASK FORCE (Kernan)  -  SRC DP 6-0     goes next to SEC

SB 464 SCHOOL DISTRICT SOLVENCY FLEXIBILITY (Kernan) SFC DP 9-0 to Sfloor

SB 387ALGAE & GEOTHERMAL ENERGY EQUIPMENT VALUATION (Sen. Leavell) SCONC DP 9-0 Next to SFC

SB525 CHEMICAL TESTS FOR DWI (Sen. Rue) SPAC no rec 6-2 Next to SJC

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For Immediate Release  Tuesday, March 05, 2013 Contact: 986-4702

Bill to Change this: No to Life Jacket-  Yes to Court Appearance and Possible Jail time

Punishment does not fit the crime

Now-No lifejacket- appear in court, up to 6 months in jail, $500 fine or both

SB 94 change- treat like traffic ticket, option to pay or appear in court to contest

1st violation- $30, 2nd-$50, 3rd or more-$150

Santa Fe — It is important that lifejackets fit to be effective, but if you do not wear one on the water in New Mexico, the punishment does not fit the crime.  You would need to go to court and could face a jail cell for up to six months, a $500 fine, or both.

Senator Bill Sharer (R-Farmington) wants to change that.

Senator Sharer’s SB 94 would allow violations of state park rules to be treated like a  traffic ticket instead of like crime requiring jail time.  Offenders could have an  option  to pay the  “penalty assessment misdemeanor” or appear in court to contest the charge. A first violation would be $30, a second one would be $50 and a third or more would be $150.

“We are not diminishing the importance of lifejackets,” Senator Sharer said. “But it is important to not bog down our courts with these violations of park rules. People out on the water without their PFCs should have the option to pay the fine or go to court to contest it. They should  not be required to show up in court for not  wearing their lifejackets.”

Currently, the maximum sentence for not wearing a personal floatation device (PFC) is six months in jail and a $500 fine or both.  The petty misdemeanor also requires a person appear to court to face a judge.

Sb 94- Penalties for no boat floatation devices passed the Senate 37-0 and goes to the House.

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For Immediate Release  March 5, 2013  Contact:  505-986-4702

Senate Passed Bill to Speed up Background Checks Prior to Placing Children in Emergencies

SB 41a/ec Background Checks for CYFD Emergency Placements

Senator Sander Rue

Passes Senate 36-2

Santa Fe — The New Mexico State Senate passed a bill sponsored by State Senator Sander Rue (R-Albuquerque) to allow the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD)  to conduct a federal criminal history records check with the FBI of all adults residing in a home where a child might be placed by the state when there is an emergency and a child is in need of state protection. It would producer faster criminal checks than what CYFD is currently able to attain.

The bill, with an emergency clause, passed the Senate 36 to 2 and now goes to the House. SB 41a is designed to improve the safety of children placed in the home of relatives, neighbors or friends in an emergency situation.  If it becomes law, abused and neglected children needing emergency protection from the state would not be placed in a home with a known convicted felon because background checks would be conducted faster than the current process  and prior to a child being  placed in a home.

Senator Rue has said:

“We want to ensure that when an emergency arises, the state places  no child in a home that could be potentially volatile if a felon is living in the home,” Senator Rue said. “The state needs to do everything it can to protect these children that are under its care and we need to be able to do it quickly.  This will allow the state to do instant nationwide name checks through the National Crime Information Center.”  The NCIC conducts a broader, nationwide check to cover what could be potential concerns in the home.

CYFD currently conducts fingerprint-based national criminal records background checks on all foster and adoptive parent applicants, however these checks do not provide immediate results. The bill provides CYFD with more timely access to federal criminal records histories than currently is available.  This information is critical to assessing child safety in the placement.

This bill adds a new section to the Children’s Code permitting the Children Youth and Families Department to request from a criminal justice agency a federal name-based criminal history record check of each adult residing in a home where a child will be placed in an emergency due to the absence of the child’s parents or custodians. The bill also contains provisions for fingerprint-based verification by the department of public safety of name-based checks completed.  The bill contains an emergency clause.

According to Senator Rue, law enforcement may place a child into the emergency protective custody of CYFD when law enforcement believes that a child is abused or neglected and that there is an immediate threat to the child’s safety.  In such circumstances, the parent is unavailable to provide care and protection to the child, and CYFD is responsible for identifying a safe and appropriate placement for the child. Placement options can include appropriate relatives so as to reduce the trauma to the child and preserve family connections.

The bill also establishes provisions for follow-up on any name-based check with a fingerprint-based check within fifteen calendar days from the date of the name-based check.  The bill provides provisions to remove a child from the home immediately if any adult resident in the home fails to provide fingerprints or written permission to perform a federal criminal history record check when requested to do so.  When placement of a child in a home is denied as result of a name-based check and the resident contests the denial, the bill allows the resident to still submit fingerprints with written permission allowing for the fingerprint based check.

For the purpose of this bill, the term “emergency placement”  is defined as instances when CYFD is placing a child in the home of private individuals, including neighbors, friends or relatives as a result of sudden unavailability of the child’s primary caretaker.

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For Immediate Release  Monday, March 04, 2013  Contact: 505-986-4702

Monday evening committee action on following Republican Senate Bills:

SB0442 DWI INTERLOCKS FOR CERTAIN SENTENCES (Sen. Griggs) SJC DP 6-0 goes to Senate Floor

SB0279cs APPRAISAL MANAGEMENT COMPANIES (Sen. Rue) SJC DP 6-0 goes to SFloor

SB0278csa REAL ESTATE APPRAISERS, MANAGEMENT & TRAINING (Sen. Rue) DP 7-0 goes to Senate Floor

SB0312aa UNCLAIMED INSURANCE BENEFITS & POLICIES (Sen. Leavell) SJC DP 7-0 goes to Senate Floor

SB0361 SCHOOL ATHLETICS EQUITY ACT DELAYED REPEAL (Sen. Kernan) died in SJC on a DP failure 4-5 on party lines

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For Immediate Release  Monday, March 04, 2013  Contact: 986-4702

Despite ALL Republican Senators Vote Against Raising Minimum Wage Statewide to 4th Highest  in the Nation, SB 416a Passes Senate on Party-line vote

Soundbite available: http://youtu.be/JTXKeVXBPjI

On a party line vote, all 17 Republican Senators voted against raising the minimum wage statewide to $8.50 an hour, the fourth highest in the nation. SB 416a-Raise Minimum Wage passed 25 to 17 and goes to the House.

State Senator Bill Sharer (R-Farmington) said the free market should be allowed to work. He said the free market should determine wages. Senator Sharer said raising the minimum wage by 13% could have a negative impact on New Mexico small business and may lead to cutbacks in employment levels.  Currently, the state minimum wage is $7.50 an hour.

The bill was amended to apply to employers with 11 or more employees. Current law applies to employers with one or more employees.

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For Immediate Release Monday, March 04, 2013 Contact: 505-986-4702

Audio /Video at: http://youtu.be/xomdtcDpGX0

On to 3rd Committee: SB 368- Reboot NM Tax System in Senate Public Affairs Tuesday

SB 368 Hard Reboot of NM Tax System -  Repeal Nearly Every Tax, Replace  them with a 2% Across-the-Board Consumption Tax

Santa Fe — Out of Senate Conservation, Out of Senate Corporations, in Senate Public Affairs Tuesday.  Bill to wipe out hundreds of taxes in New Mexico and replace them with a simple and low 2% across-the- board consumption tax is scheduled for Senate Public Affairs Tuesday afternoon, March 5, 2013 in room 321.

Sponsor of SB 368: Senator Bill Sharer (R- Farmington). He said: “Give the tax system a hard reboot and bring it back to the basics of what the original Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) was intended to be while eliminating all of the GRT deductions, credits and exemptions that have grown around it over the years. “This is real tax reform. While we have played around the edges of taxation for decades we now have a bill that will be a true “hard reboot” of the tax system. It is time to quit tinkering and just do it.”

The back-to-the basics tax plan includes implementing a low 2% broad based tax on everything that is sold, purchased and rented in New Mexico and eliminating the Personal Income Tax, the Corporate Income Tax, the Compensating Tax and nearly all of the “special sales taxes.” Special taxes include such things as the vehicle excise tax, the taxes on insurance premiums and the Convoy Tax.

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For Immediate Release  Monday, March 04, 2013  Contact: 505-986-4702

Recent Committee action on following Republican Senate Bills:

SB548 THREATENING SCHOOL VIOLENCE ACT (Sen. Neville) SEC DP 8-1 Next to SJC

SB 496 SPECIAL LICENSE PLATE DECALS (Sharer) SCORC DP 7-1 on to SJC then SFC

SB 428LEA & ROOSEVELT WEATHER MODIFICATION (Sen. Ingle) SCONC DP 6-0 Next to SFC

SJM 46 REIMBURSEMENT OF HOME & COMMUNITY-BASED SVCS (Beffort) SFC DP to Sfloor

SB  557/a  RURAL JOB TAX CREDIT DEFINITIONS  (Leavell) SFC DP to Sfloor

SB  160a BIODIESEL DEFINITIONS (Ingle) SFC DP to Sfloor

 

 

 

 

NM Legislature Weekly Roundup: Week of Feb. 25 – Mar. 1, 2013

Posted on 03. Mar, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics

The following information was submitted by the New Mexico State Senate Republican Office and is presented in the order from the newest to the oldest…

Recent Committee action on following Republican Senate Bills:

· SB0396a AMERICAN-MADE VEHICLES IN PROCUREMENT CODE (Sen. Neville) SJC DP 6-1 goes to Senate Floor.

· SB0020 RAISE PROBATION COSTS FOR DEFENDANTS (Sen. Neville) SJC DP 8-0 goes to Senate Floor.

· SB0094cs PENALTIES FOR NO BOAT FLOATATION DEVICES (Sen. Sharer) SJC DP 8-1 goes to Senate Floor.

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Recent Committee action on following Republican Senate Bills:

SB0412aa UPDATE MODEL ACTS OF INSURANCE CODE  (Sen. Leavell) SJC DP w/o rec 5-3 goes to Senate Floor.

SB 321 UTILITY CHARGES FOR CERTAIN SCHOOLS (Sen. Payne) SCORC DP 6-0 Next to Senate Floor.

SB418 TEACHER LICENSURE CONTENT KNOWLEDGE (Sen. Kernan) SEC DP 9-0 Next to SJC.

SB464 SCHOOL DISTRICT FUNDING FLEXIBILITY (Sen. Kernan) SEC DP 8-0 Next to SFC.

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Senate Passes 37-2

Over $16 BILLION in State Funds to be Better Secured

After years of Pay- to- Play Scandals

SB 9aaa – State Investment Council Changes

Sponsor:  Senator Steven Neville

Soundbite at: http://youtu.be/rDNzTpg7bgk

Senate passed 37-2, goes to House

To end pay-to-play scandals

12 member board gives more oversight to Legislature

Members have 10 or more years finance experience

No felons, crimes of moral turpitude

State Investment Officer can still hire consultants

(Santa Fe) The Senate Passed SB 9aaa.  Over 16 billion dollars in state permanent funds,   yes billion with a “B, ” should become  better secured and better invested for future generations with the changes proposed by Senator Steve Neville. (R-Farmington.)  The years of “Pay-to- Play” Scandals for the State Investment Council are to end.

“The days of seeing “Pay to Play” headlines regarding the billions of dollars in State Investment Council  (SIC) need to end. With the improvements in my bill, the public can rest assured that these billions in our permanent funds will be in place to help generate funds for future generations,” Senator Neville said.  “These billions  cannot be tampered with, they cannot be inappropriately invested, they need better oversight. They should receive this with the changes we are proposing for the State Investment Council.”

SB 9 – State Investment Council Changes would  change the State Investment Council’s membership composition and appointment process. There would be more oversight by the legislature. The bill would add member eligibility requirements and clarify operating procedures.  It also allows the SIC to invest funds in the Small Business Investment Corporation.

MEMBERSHIP COMPOSITION Under Senator Neville’s Bill includes some current appointments, plus some new appointments. The changes in appointments include four from the legislature:

one public member appointed by the President pro tempore; must be confirmed by Senate

one public member appointed by the minority floor leader of Senate; must be confirmed by Senate

one public member appointed by the Speaker of the House; must be confirmed by Senate

one public member appointed by the minority floor leader of the House; must be confirmed by Senate

5-8 Increases from two members  to four members appointed by the Governor, but no more than two from same political party  and they  must be confirmed by Senate.

The following positions currently on the SIC would remain:

9- Governor or person appointed by the Governor; if appointed must be confirmed by Senate

10- State Treasurer or person appointed by the Treasurer; if appointed must be confirmed by Senate

11- Commissioner of Public Lands or person appointed by the Commissioner; if appointed must be confirmed  by Senate

12  Dept. of Finance and Administration (DFA) Secretary.

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Senate Passes: Public Schools to be Paid for Teaching

Part-time Home Schooled Students

SB 302aa Home Student Program Units

Senator Craig Brandt (R-Rio Rancho)

Soundbite Avail: http://youtu.be/SBDgv1lini4

· Senate Passes 29-10, goes to House

· Allows home schooled students to take one or more classes in all public schools

· Public schools cannot deny home schooled students to take part-time courses

· Ensures schools receive state funding for those part-time home school students

Santa Fe—The New Mexico State Senate passed a bill to allow home schooled students to take one or more classes in all  public schools in the state. And the bill  would ensure schools would be able to receive state funding for those part-time home schooled students. SB 302aa passed 29-10. It is  sponsored by Senator Craig Brandt (R-Rio Rancho) and goes to the House.

“Currently, not all school districts allow home schoolers to take one or two courses in their schools because the state does not fund those home schoolers,” Senator Brandt said. “That will change under my bill, home schoolers will be allowed to take one or more courses and public school districts will receive funding for those students they teach in their public classrooms. It is only fair.”

Senator Brandt said currently, public schools do not receive any state funding for students who are taught at home.

While a Rio Rancho School Board member, Senator Brandt tried to ensure that all  home schoolers had access to Rio Rancho public schools, but they were denied it by the rest of the school board. “Right now home schoolers cannot take one class in the Rio Rancho school district.  I am committed to working  on this funding issue so all New Mexico public schools will teach all of our children, as required in the State Constitution.

“It will encourage home schoolers to take courses such as chemistry or biology that might be more challenging  to be taught at home while it compensates the schools for taking in these students,” Senator Brandt said. “I believe the students will feel more welcomed in the classroom if the school district receives the additional funding.”

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Correction of Bill Name:

· SB 544 BAIL BONDS FOR FULL AMOUNT OF BAIL (TORRACO) SCORC DP wo rec 9-0 on to SJC

Committees took action Wednesday PM on following Republican Senate Bills:

SB0396a AMERICAN-MADE VEHICLES IN PROCUREMENT CODE (Sen. Neville) SJC tabled 3-3

Committees took action Wednesday on the following Republican Senate Bills:

· SB0455aa TRAFFIC TICKET COUNTY JURISDICTION (Sen. Pirtle) SJC DP 9-0 goes to Senate Floor

· SB 518 TAX DISTRIBUTION & TRANSFER CORRECTIONS (INGLE) DP wo rec SCORC 8-0 on to SFC

· SB284a VALUATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY EQUIPMENT (Leavell)S FC DP 7-0 to Sfloor

· SB340 $10 MILLION MINIMUM DESIGN & BUILD PROJECTS (Ingle) SFC DP 8-0 to Sfloor

· SB 341 BUILDING & REMODEL CONTRACT THRESHOLD AMOUNT (Ingle) SFC DP 9-0 to Sfloor

· SB572 RENOVATION & CONSTRUCTION OF STATE OFFICES (Ingle) SFC DP 8-0 to Sfloor

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Committees took action Wednesday on the following Republican Senate Bills:

· SB0455aa TRAFFIC TICKET COUNTY JURISDICTION (Sen. Pirtle) SJC DP 9-0 goes to Senate Floor

· SB 518 TAX DISTRIBUTION & TRANSFER CORRECTIONS (INGLE) DP wo rec SCORC 8-0 on to SFC

· SB 544 RAISE MINIMUM WAGE (TORRACO) SCORC DP wo rec 9-0 on to SJC

· SB284a VALUATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY EQUIPMENT (Leavell)S FC DP 7-0 to Sfloor

· SB340 $10 MILLION MINIMUM DESIGN & BUILD PROJECTS (Ingle) SFC DP 8-0 to Sfloor

· SB 341 BUILDING & REMODEL CONTRACT THRESHOLD AMOUNT (Ingle) SFC DP 9-0 to Sfloor

· SB572 RENOVATION & CONSTRUCTION OF STATE OFFICES (Ingle) SFC DP 8-0 to Sfloor

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Letter to the Editor

Not a Prediction, a Guarantee: State Loses Greatly if SB 547 Ruins New Mexico’s Oil and Gas Industry

This will do it. SB 547 will ruin New Mexico’s oil and gas industry. It is more than a prediction, it is a guarantee.

SB 547 prohibits the oil and gas industry from being able to produce the tax revenue our state so heavily depends on. The industry provides upwards of 30% of the revenue our state relies on to fund schools, roads, public safety and healthcare.

SB 547 prohibits hydraulic fracturing in horizontally drilled wells. Currently, a vast majority of the oil and gas comes from hydraulic fracturing. If this technology is banned in horizontal wells by SB 547, the bill kills the economic future of New Mexico.  SB 547 will eliminate nearly all of the drilling in New Mexico and any future drilling. New production will not take place. Companies with high paying jobs will close down, companies with even higher paying won’t consider relocating here.  There will be reduced future production to tax to pay for schools, roads, public safety and healthcare.

The bill, sponsored by Senator William Soules of Las Cruces, is being presented by a Senator with little knowledge of the oil patch areas of New Mexico.  I appeal to those New Mexicans who understand that New Mexico cannot afford to lose these revenues.  Our state has barely begun a recovery from the recent hard times and we cannot afford to lose any revenues now or in the future.  Consider the number of private industry high-paying and middle income jobs that will be lost if this industry is shut down.  That takes personal income tax right out of the state’s coffers as well.

This bill is on the calendar for Senate Conservation.  If it passes, kiss goodbye the 30,000 high paying jobs directly attributed to oil and gas activity in the state. Kiss goodbye funding for schools, roads, public safety and healthcare in the state. Kiss goodbye our economic future.

Senator Lee S. Cotter

Room 416C State Capitol Building

Old Santa Fe Trail

Santa Fe, NM 87505

Tuesday, February 27, 2013

505-986-4377

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Senate Passed Bill to Require Assisted Living  Contract Refund Policy

Senate Bill 335/ec Assisted Living Facility Contract Refunds

Passed Senate 40-0

CORRECTION is underlined

Santa Fe- A bill that passed the Senate, House Committees and was placed on the House floor calendar when time ran out in the session last year, passed the New Mexico State Senate unanimously again this session. The Bill 335/ec  requires a refund policy for contracts with assisted living facilities when a resident dies, it passed the Senate 40-0.

Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle (R-Portales) sponsored the legislation that requires contracts to include a prorated refund policy effective when the resident has died and the personal effects have been removed from the assisted living facility.

Senator Ingle sponsored the legislation originally last year after being contacted by a family whose loved one died a day after the family had paid a full month’s assisted living rent and the facility  would not refund any of the rent, even after it had rented the room to another resident. “The family did not get one dime back,” Senator Ingle said on the Senate floor today.

Senator Ingle has said, “This situation really touched me.  I just cannot believe a business can behave this way. I talked to a number of assisted living facility directors who do have policies to refund the rent.  But for those who do not have such policies, we need a law to require this refund policy. I  just felt like something needed to be done.”

It now goes to the House for consideration. There is an emergency clause on the bill.

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Senate Passed Bill to Require Assisted Living  Contract Refund Policy

Senate Bill 335/ec Assisted Living Facility Contract Refunds

Passed Senate 40-0

Santa Fe- A bill that passed both chambers last year, but did not get through the process, passed the New Mexico State Senate unanimously again this session. The Bill 335/ec requires a refund policy for contracts with assisted living facilities when a resident dies, it passed the Senate 40-0.

Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle (R-Portales) sponsored the legislation that requires contracts to include a prorated refund policy effective when the resident has died and the personal effects have been removed from the assisted living facility.

Senator Ingle sponsored the legislation originally last year after being contacted by a family whose loved one died a day after the family had paid a full month’s assisted living rent and the facility  would not refund any of the rent, even after it had rented the room to another resident.

“The family did  not get one dime back,” Senator Ingle said on the Senate floor today.

Senator Ingle has said, “This situation really touched me.  I just cannot believe a business can behave this way. I talked to a number of assisted living facility directors who do have policies to refund the rent.  But for those who do not have such policies, we need a law to require this refund policy. I  just felt like something needed to be done.”

It now goes to the House for consideration. There is an emergency clause on the bill.

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Senate Education Passed Bill to Keep Students  on Track or Risk

Losing Driver’s License

Soundbite at:  http://youtu.be/XdVNYGgeEfk

SB 393- Early Intervention to Prevent Drop Outs

Senator Craig Brandt

Desired Outcomes:

· Increase Graduation Rates, Better preparation for college or career

· Serve as Early Warning System- ID students at risk, immediate intervention

· Prevent Dropouts-student, parent, principal agree after exit interview, sign statement- Can only drop out due to financial hardship, illness, court

· If no exit interview or exceed habitual truancy – at risk of losing driver’s privilege

Santa Fe- Senate Education unanimously passed a bill (9-0) that encourages students  to stay in school by  possibly denying  driver’s licenses to students who plan to drop out. SB 393 now goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senator Craig Brandt, a former School Board member from one of the state’s high schools with the best graduation rates, is sponsoring a bill to prevent school drop outs throughout the state.  SB 393 is designed to increase graduation rates and decrease the number of dropouts by better preparing students for success in college and in their careers. If students do not take some of the steps to prevent them from dropping out, they are at risk of losing their driver’s privileges.

SB 393 sets up an early warning system of those who are at risk of dropping out and provides for  immediate intervention to keep them on track with the Next Step Plan.

An intervention similar program has been implemented in the Rio Rancho School District and has contributed to their growth in its graduation rate.

“Identify students at risk and getting them the immediate support they need to get back on track was successful in Rio Rancho and can make a huge difference across the state,” Senator Brandt said. “There is so much hope for our students and their futures if the legislature has the courage to make these critical improvements. If the students do not go along with the efforts to help keep them in school, they could lose their driver’s permit or license. That could keep them on track.”

The data used in early warning system to identify students at risk include: 3rd grade reading proficiency rates; multiple discipline referrals; habitual truancy rates in grades 6 –9; 9th grade GPA below 1.5; and failure of any core courses during grades 6 –9.

Under the proposed changes, students would only be able to drop out of school if they are between 16 and under 18 if the students, parents, principals agree after exit interview conducted by the school.  All of them would also have to sign statement acknowledging that dropping out will reduce the student’s earning potential.  And the changes would only allow withdrawal from school due to the student’s  financial hardship, illness, if there is a court order that has jurisdiction over the student.

If a student drops out without completing the exit interview or if a student exceeds the habitually truancy rate between grades 8-12, they might lose their driving privileges during the second year of the plan’s implementation.

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New Mexico State  Senate Republican Office

Killed in Senate Ed- Bill to Allow Districts to Decide if up to 3 Employees Can Have a Handgun at School

Soundbite avail: http://youtu.be/fGQDxHyBcnM

Committee Sub for SB 230 School Employee Concealed Handguns – Senator Sue Wilson Beffort

MAJOR Points:

1.      Immediate level of protection in our schools

2.      Allows up to three school employees to bring licensed conceal carry permitted guns on school grounds

3.      Requires addition annual  training to conceal carry permit

4.      Optional for all school districts, schools and school employees

5.      There is no additional money in budget bill to pay for armed school guards at all New Mexico public schools

Santa Fe- The New Mexico Senate Education committee killed a bill that would have allowed up to three school employees to carry a concealed handgun on school property, on a strictly volunteer basis. The bill was tabled indefinitely in Senate Finance on a vote of 6 to 3, meaning the committee will not reconsider the bill this session. The bill was sponsored by Senator Sue Wilson Beffort (R-Sandia Park.)

Part of  Senator Wilson Beffort’s testimony can be found on youtube at this address: http://youtu.be/fGQDxHyBcnM

Previous press release on the bill included this information:

Currently, state law prohibits anyone from carrying guns on school property except police and school security guards. Under the Senator’s bill, each school in the state could designate up to three employees to carry a concealed gun. “We need to stop a tragedy before it happens,” Wilson Beffort said. “It is an option that school boards can decide if they want. If they want it, then a shooter is not going to know which who has a concealed carry.” Senator Wilson Beffort said changes have to be made in light of the school shootings across the nation.  Last December, 26 students and school workers were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

The designated employees must be in possession of a valid concealed handgun license.Senator Sue Wilson Beffort’s comments on the day before its first committee hears the piece of legislation:  “I want to emphasize that this is strictly voluntary.  Nothing in the bill would force any school or school district to implement this law unless the school district and its community wished to do so.  The tragic school shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut have helped to focus on need for this type of consideration.

But Sandy Hook is only one in an ongoing litany of tragic mass school shootings including those in Colorado, Arkansas, Kentucky and Mississippi.  Consider this:  During a shooting spree at a high school in Pearl, Mississippi, several years ago, an assistant principal retrieved a gun from his car and physically immobilized the gunman for a full four and a half minutes until the police arrived.  This gunman had already fatally shot two students.  Who knows how many lives the assistant principal saved that day?

Legislatures and other local governing entities are considering similar measures as they grapple with how to protect their children and teachers throughout the country. Other remedies that have been discussed–such as armed guards, more mental health counselors, locked fencing and installation of protective glass in windows and doors–while they are worthy considerations none are currently in HB 2 as it stands.  While the metal health issue is also a significant piece in this tragic occurrence, that issue remains unsolved to date and is extremely complicated especially in terms of an ultimate comprehensive remedy–locking people up?  Or the accusations not fair to persons with mental illness. Privacy. Freedom to board an airplane, if any diagnosis that the country needs time and focus to accomplish something.”

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-On Senate Calendar today-

Over $16 BILLION in State Funds to be Better Secured

After years of Pay- to- Play Scandals

SB 9aa – State Investment Council Changes

Sponsor:  Senator Steven Neville

Soundbite at: http://youtu.be/rDNzTpg7bgk

12 member board gives more oversight to Legislature

Members have 10 or more years finance experience

No felons, crimes of moral turpitude

State Investment Officer can still hire consultants

(Santa Fe) Over 16 billion dollars in state permanent funds,   yes billion with a “B, ” should become  better secured and better invested for future generations with the changes proposed by Senator Steve Neville. (R-Farmington).  The years of “Pay-to- Play” Scandals for the State Investment Council are to end.

“The days of seeing “Pay to Play” headlines regarding the billions of dollars in State Investment Council  (SIC) need to end. With the improvements in my bill, the public can rest assured that these billions in our permanent funds will be in place to help generate funds for future generations,” Senator Neville said.  “These billions  cannot be tampered with, they cannot be inappropriately invested, they need better oversight. They should receive this with the changes we are proposing for the State Investment Council.”

SB 9 – State Investment Council Changes would  change the State Investment Council’s membership composition and appointment process. There would be more oversight by the legislature. The bill would add member eligibility requirements and clarify operating procedures.  It also allows the SIC to invest funds in the Small Business Investment Corporation.

MEMBERSHIP COMPOSITION Under Senator Neville’s Bill includes some current appointments, plus some new appointments. The changes in appointments include four from the legislature:

one public member appointed by the President pro tempore; must be confirmed by Senate

one public member appointed by the minority floor leader of Senate; must be confirmed by Senate

one public member appointed by the Speaker of the House; must be confirmed by Senate

one public member appointed by the minority floor leader of the House; must be confirmed by Senate

5-8 Increases from two members  to four members appointed by the Governor, but no more than two from same political party  and they  must be confirmed by Senate.

The following positions currently on the SIC would remain:

9- Governor or person appointed by the Governor; if appointed must be confirmed by Senate

10- State Treasurer or person appointed by the Treasurer; if appointed must be confirmed by Senate

11- Commissioner of Public Lands or person appointed by the Commissioner; if appointed must be confirmed  by Senate

12  Dept. of Finance and Administration (DFA) Secretary.

Senator Neville’s bill would deleted the following five members:

The requirement that one member must be chief financial officer of a state university

The requirement that four members must be appointed by the NM Legislative Council Service (LCS).

The bill provides for the SIC to elect its own Chair and Vice-Chair, both to serve two-year staggered terms with no more than two consecutive terms.

MEMBERSHIP QUALIFICATIONS

Establishes the following criteria for SIC members:

No less than ten years experience in the fields of investment management, investment accounting,  investment risk management or governance in public or private entities

U.S. citizenship and New Mexico residency.

No convictions for felony or misdemeanor crime(s) involving moral turpitude.

INVESTMENTS

State Investment Officer must have “10 years” training and investment experience

Allows the SIC to invest inactive funds for the Small Business Investment Council (SBIC), as it does for 17 other state agencies, according to the SIC analysis.  The bill also requires additional reporting from SBIC to SIC.

Clarifies the State Investment Officer’s authority to hire investment consultants and specifies that the staff of the SIC who have discretionary authority or control over SIC funds are fiduciaries.

ADMINISTRATION

Clarifies SIC administration related to per diem, State Investment Officer salary, and meeting frequency and notices, and the SIO’s role.

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New Long-term Insurance Program Would Allow

New Mexicans to Keep More of their Assets While Qualifying for Medicaid

SB 196 – Long Term Care Insurance Partnership Program

Sponsor:  Senator Lee S. Cotter

Encouraging  private long-term insurance program:

· Gives New Mexicans more choice

· Incentive allows estate to retain value of policy that could be passed to heirs

· Saves Medicaid program when people are on private insurance.

(Santa Fe)  The New Mexico State Senate passed 39-0 a bill sponsored by  State Senator Lee S. Cotter (R-Las Cruces) that gives New Mexicans more choice and an incentive to purchase long-term care insurance. Senator Cotter’s bill is SB 196- Long Term Care Insurance Partnership Program.

It allows New Mexicans to exempt from qualifying for Medicaid the amount of their  private insurance benefit if the private insurance benefit becomes  exhausted.  The value of the  private insurance benefit can remain in the person’s estate, does not have to be spent down to $2,000 in order for the person to qualify for Medicaid once their private insurance is exhausted.

“This does a number of things. Primarily, it gives New Mexicans a choice.   It allows people to leave their heirs part of their estate in the event they do have to eventually go on Medicaid without having to become destitute,” Senator Cotter said. “It also helps save the federal Medicaid program dollars because more New Mexicans will appreciate the incentive of purchasing their own private insurance and won’t be on the federal program, until their private insurance is gone.”

Senator Cotter said the long-term insurance incentive program has been passed by 42 other states. Senator Cotter reiterated, “The program allows New Mexicans to have a choice. It gives them an incentive to save assets and provides for their long term health care instead of forcing New Mexicans to reduce their assets to $2,000 before they can apply for Medicaid.”

He said it modifies Medicaid eligibility rules by requiring that, individuals’ assets counted when considering Medicaid eligibility, exclude the amount of qualified long-term care insurance. The lower the “counted assets” the higher the chance the person will qualify for Medicaid.

SB 196 requires that the Human Services Dept. (HSD) modify the state Medicaid Plan and create a long-term health insurance partnership program in consultation with the Superintendent of Insurance to give incentives for individuals to obtain long term care insurance.

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Action was taken on the following Republican Sponsored bills in the Senate today, Friday, February 22, 2013.  Passed Senate bills passed head to the House.

SB 185/aa/ec Frontier Communities Program- Sponsor- Senator Pat Woods (R-Broadview) Passed Senate. The bill amends the New Mexico Main Street Act [3-60B-1 and 4 NMSA 1978] to include a new category of community economic development support by the MainStreet Program called “Frontier Communities” to help rural communities under 5,000 in population with economic development initiatives.

SB 372- Barber & Cosmetologist Cease & Desist Orders- Sponsor- Senator Lisa Torraco (R-Albuquerque)  passed Senate 35-4 and now heads to the House.

SB 372 would grant authority to the Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists, rather than with the Attorney General’s Office, to issue cease and desist orders to violators of the Barbers and Cosmetologists Act (BCA) or the Body Art Safe Practices Act (BASPA) and to impose penalties for such violations.

SB 181a Professional Licensure Standards & Boards- Sponsor- Senator Sander Rue (R-Albuquerque) passed Senate 36-0)  SB 181/a  updates and clarifies the scope of practice and licensure definitions for a clinical fellow of speech and language pathology and hearing aid dispensers. It conforms New Mexico law to national standards.

SB 336/ec 2 Year Cycle For Some Election Contributions- Sponsor Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle- passed 40-0. The bill puts Senators on the same fund raising schedule as Representatives by changing contribution caps for certain elective offices. It amends the Campaign Reporting Act (CRA) to change the contribution limits from a specified cap per election cycle for each elective office to a cap every two years, no matter what the election cycle is.  It allows candidates to receive the maximum amount of campaign contributions during any Primary or General Election cycle instead of being restricted to the contribution limits during their own election cycle only, as current law requires.

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Editor – For more information, please contact:  The New Mexico State  Senate Republican Office at 505/986-4702

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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