December 10, 2019

Politics and Energy: Two Articles

Posted on 02. Apr, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment, Politics

Article 1: New regulations create more wealth for green cronies

On Good Friday, a day fewer people would be paying attention to the headlines than on most other days, the Obama administration released news about its plans to raise the price of gasoline.

Gasoline prices for the first quarter of 2013 are higher than the same time in 2012. Intentionally pushing prices up would seem stupid in the midst of a struggling economy—that is, if your goal is to help those most impacted by higher fuel and food prices, rather than boosting the bottom line for your billionaire donors.

The plans, announced Friday, call for stricter limits for sulfur in gasoline—from the current 30 parts per million to 10. (Sulfur is an important element that is found naturally in crude oil has many industrial uses.) The EPA estimates that the low-sulfur gasoline will raise the price of a gallon of gas by “less than a penny,” while industry sources say it will be closer to ten cents a gallon.

Energy analyst Robert Rapier, told me that the new regulations “will certainly make gasoline more expensive.” He said; “Note that diesel was historically less expensive than gasoline until the ultra-low sulfur diesel standard was passed.

Since then, diesel has often been more expensive than gasoline. I am not saying whether or not those standards were needed, maybe they were. But the impact on cost is undeniable. I worked in a refinery when those standards were passed, and we spent a lot of capital making sure we could comply.”

Though air pollution is a worthy consideration, it is low on the public’s list of priorities, while gas prices are of utmost importance. If the public doesn’t see air pollution as a problem, and the President’s popularity has peaked, why would he put out policy that would hit the middle class the hardest? Because, despite his campaign rhetoric, he’s not “a warrior for the middle class.”

One year ago, Christine Lakatos launched her blog— “The Green Corruption Files”—through which she set out to prove that “green corruption is the largest, most expensive and deceptive case of crony capitalism in American history.

Stay tuned as we expose one piece of this scandal at a time.”  Last summer, Lakatos and I partnered to draw more attention to Obama’s Green-Energy Crony-Corruption Scandal. To date, I’ve written fifteen columns based on her research—this is the sixteenth.

A week ago, she posted her expose on George Soros and his profiting from his, apparent, insider information on green-energy investments. Within her post, Lakatos says: “be prepared for regulations and legislation that will, in some form or another, resemble cap-and-trade and demand additional funds to bank roll Obama’s efforts to save our planet.” Exactly one week later, the new EPA standards on gasoline were released.

The standards will raise the cost of fuel—which has been the underlying goal of the Obama energy agenda: make what works more expensive so people will accept the high cost of “green energy” in the name of saving the planet. (Remember outgoing Energy Secretary Chu’s 2008 statement: “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”)

But, as the Soros story shows, it’s not about the planet, it’s about the profit. Soros’ investment portfolio shows he invests where he can make money—both traditional and green energy (though, as you’ll see, through Obama’s green energy emphasis, he has more control over green energy investments). In a 1998, 60 Minutes interview, Soros said: “I am basically there to make money. I cannot and do not look at the social consequences of what I do.”

Soros’ relationship with Obama goes back almost as far as his manipulation of money and markets.

It is reported that back before, Obama became a Senator, or announced his presidential bid, and before the founding of the Soros-funded Center for American Progress (CAP), Morton Halperin, (the director of Soros’ Open Society Institute), John Podesta (the former Clinton White House chief of staff), Jeremy Rosner (a former speech writer for Bill Clinton), Robert Boorstin (a Democrat strategist and also a former speech writer for Clinton) and Carl Pope (a Democrat strategist and environmentalist) met in 2002 at Soros’ Long Island Southampton beach house to draft a plan to defeat President Bush in the presidential election of 2004. Without that meeting, Lt. Col. Robert “Buzz” Patterson, says: “Barack Obama would be … an unremarkable and unheard of state senator. Instead, Barack Obama is the President of the United States.”

Soros was an early donor to Obama’s senatorial race. “Soros and his family gave Barack Obama $60,000. This does not include money that Soros was able to funnel to so-called 527 groups (Moveon.org, for example) that have also been politically active; nor does it include money that Soros was able to raise from tapping a network of friends, business associates, and employees.”

Once Obama was running for president, Soros was there again with support to the tune of $5 million—which put him on the Forbes’ 2008 list of Obama’s Billionaire Buddies. But the king of contributions wasn’t done there, and in September 2012, Soros pledged $1.5 million in donations to a trio of super PACs backing Obama and congressional Democrats. Soros’ political contributions are widely known, as is his funding of left-leaning organizations such as CAP, The Tides Center and the Apollo Alliance—which all play a part in his ability to cash in on green.

Soros was instrumental at the least, integral at the most, in writing Obama’s 2009 Stimulus Bill that put nearly $100 billion into various green energy companies and projects. Additionally, there is a little-publicized connection between Soros, green energy advocacy, and the White House.

Since buying access, Soros has been a frequent White House visitor and met with Obama’s, then, top economist Larry Summers—exerting his influence.

The Soros-funded Apollo Alliance brags about its role in writing the 2009 Stimulus Bill. In an interview, the best-selling author of Throw Them All Out, Peter Schweizer, states: “Billionaire George Soros gave advice and direction on how President Obama should allocate so-called ‘stimulus’ money in a series of regular private meetings and consultations with White House senior advisers even as Soros was making investments in areas affected by the stimulus program.”

Schweizer, then, reveals, “In the first quarter of 2009, Mr. Soros went on a stock-buying spree in companies that ultimately benefited from the federal stimulus.” He continues: “It is not necessarily the case that Soros had specific insider tips about any government grants,” nevertheless, Soros’ “investment decisions aligned remarkably closely with government grants and transfers.” The majority of those investments were in green energy ventures that gained from the stimulus and/or government regulation such as BioFuel Energy that benefitted when the EPA announced a regulation on ethanol.

Shortly after the 2009 Stimulus, more to secure his investments than because of any core belief, Soros launched several new groups to help propagate the manmade climate change narrative that is the foundation for green energy investments—without belief in manmade climate change, we don’t need renewables as there is no energy shortage.

Some of the little-publicized connections include Cathy Zoi, former CEO of Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, and who, while at the Department of Energy, oversaw the disbursement of more than $30 billion in green-energy stimulus funds. In early 2011, she resigned to work for a Soros fund: Silver Lake Kraftwerk. Another is Denis McDonough who has replaced Jack Lew as Obama’s Chief of Staff. McDonough was a Senior Fellow at Soros-funded CAP, which Bloomberg News called: “an intellectual wellspring for Democratic policy proposals.” Other CAP/Obama advisors central to the green-energy scheme include Carol Browner, Van Jones, and Steve Spinner.

So, what return has Soros gotten on his stimulus-inspired stock buying spree plus investments in companies like First Solar and Solar City? Lakatos’ thorough research discovered that Soros’ green tab exceeds $11 billion of stimulus money (dwarfing Citibank’s) –– and we, the taxpayers, footed the bill. Keep in mind, this tally doesn’t factor in any profit Soros has made off these investments—or will continue to make as a result of Obama’s climate change agenda being pushed by EPA regulation.

As save-the-planet regulations and legislation come out of the Obama administration, which raise costs for the middle class and hurt America’s struggling economy, remember the Soros story. It illustrates that Obama is not the “warrior for the middle class” he campaigned as, but he’s most concerned about creating wealth for his “green cronies”—of which Soros is just one. This new EPA low-sulfur gasoline proposal is just the latest in a series of green regulations. We don’t know for whom it creates wealth, but we know it isn’t the middle class.

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Article 2: Winning the battle for American jobs, economic growth, and affordable energy

Following the Conservative Political Action Conference—known as CPAC—it has been reported that the faithful feel discouraged, dispirited, and defeated. Dr. Ben Carson, who emerged from the Conference as the new conservative darling, has stated that America is heading for failure. Generally, I agree. However, I see a chink in the armor.

The alliance of the environmental lobby and big government advocates have been winning—Obama is back in the White House, the new cabinet members seem worse than the last, and the Keystone pipeline has become a battle line. With the victory, however, they’ve perhaps gotten over confident and pushed too hard. They’ve had a series of losses that have put them on the defense—and everyone knows, you win on the offense.

Their losses haven’t made headline news—making them easy to miss, and the alliance is not likely to beat a hasty retreat, but looking at them added together, I see an opening for a breakthrough.

In case you missed them, here are some of the recent reversals they’ve received:

  • On March 20, the Supreme Court shot down “overzealous greens” that hoped to “hobble the logging industry by reclassifying rural storm water runoff under the Clean Water Act’s ‘point source’ standards, which require costly federal permits.” The Court ruled: “more effective regulation could be done by states and state foresters.”
  • On March 19, the Obama Administration scrapped “a series of graphic warning labels on cigarette packages that were blocked by a federal appeals court”—a win for the “tobacco industry’s free-speech rights under the First Amendment.” Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, says the FDA won’t be deterred from implementing stronger warning labels.
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein’s gun-ban bill became a victim of friendly fire when, in a March 18 meeting, Majority Leader Harry Reid notified a “frustrated Feinstein” that her assault-weapon ban “wouldn’t be part of a Democratic gun bill.” The exclusion means “almost certain defeat” but, according to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s Ladd Everitt, it has “fired up gun violence prevention advocates.”
  • On March 15, hyper-liberal Bill Maher had an epiphany on his HBO show Real Time. In a conversation with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, regarding Paul Ryan’s budget, Maher announced that rich people “actually do pay the freight in this country.” He continued, calling the taxes the rich pay: “outrageous” and “ridiculous.” He warned his liberal friends: “you could actually lose me.”
  • Facing the reality of a nuclear attack, on March 15 the Obama administration announced a reversal on missile defense. In 2009, Obama killed the Bush administration’s plans for 14 US ground-based long-range missile interceptors—which are now, in opposition to the “Democratic Party’s long aversion to any kind of missile defense,” playing catch up. Missile Defense advocates are now vindicated.
  • Government overreach received a setback on March 11, when “a judge threw out New York City’s ban on supersized sugary drinks.” Judge Milton Tingling said the soda ban “would not only violate the separation of powers doctrine, it would eviscerate it.” And, that has the “potential to be more troubling than sugar sweetened beverages.”

The list could continue to include NBC’s ratings fall and Obama’s sudden shift in relations with Republicans, but you get the idea.

“Marita,” you might say, “this is an interesting list, and I get your point, but you write on energy, and none of this has anything to do with energy.”

Here are some similar setbacks to the left’s energy agenda:

  • Going back a couple of months, on January 25, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in a unanimous decision, found that the EPA was projecting far too much production of cellulosic ethanol and mandated the exaggerated fuel standards—confirming that “EPA’s renewable fuels program is unworkable and must be scrapped.” The nonexistent-fuel requirement is costing refiners $8 million dollars in fines paid to the federal government—which are passed on to consumer—due to the unreasonable 2012 mandate.
  • Last month, regulators met in California “hoping to hash out a solution to the peculiar stresses placed on the state’s network by sharp increases in wind and solar energy.” The state is “running low on conventional plants, such as those fueled by natural gas” and now “it doesn’t have the right mix.” Utility executives are predicting rolling brown outs as early as this summer. Other states with high dependence on wind and solar resources face similar problems.
  • “In a preemptive move to protect against possible court challenges,” “an early step toward President Barack Obama’s second-term goal of cutting emissions linked to climate change has hit a snag.” Reported on March 19: “The Obama administration is weighing changes to a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule to limit emissions at new power plants.” The EPA’s rule would “essentially ban new coal-fired power plants”—which “may not withstand legal scrutiny.”
  • On March 20, another Solyndra-esque, government-funded solar panel manufacturer embarrassment came to light. SoloPower began the first round of layoffs just months after opening with a high-profile ribbon cutting and is now “selling some of its equipment through a third party and is attempting to restructure its $197 million federal loan guarantee.” The story shows that “politicians are proving to be lousy venture capitalists with this and other green energy subsidies.”

Again, this sampling of stories illustrates the cause for my optimism.

In war, and we are in a war, when one side sees signs of weakness, it is time to act and exploit the vulnerabilities; go on the offensive. The weapons we have are social media, email, and our telephones. Here are some of the battles we could win if we join in the fight for American jobs, economic growth, and affordable energy.

  • The Keystone pipeline is in the news again due to the recently released State Department report that concludes that it is environmentally safe. The pipeline, alone, has the unique ability to create jobs without taxpayer monies, spur economic growth in the states it will cross and other states that will participate in construction support, and lower the cost of gasoline through increased supply. We all need to add our “comments.” Tell the State department to end the four-year delay and approve the Keystone pipeline.
  • Anti-surface mining ads running in Tennessee on March 19 are just the latest in the war on coal. The war is raging against coal mining—which provides good paying jobs for thousands of Americans—and against coal-fueled power plants with 300+ scheduled for closure in the next few years and no possible replacement.

We need an energy policy that works for each locale rather than one-size-fits-all requirements. For example, in New Mexico, we have coal-fueled power plants built right next to a coal mine, yet EPA regulations are shutting down five of the nine units. Likewise, West Virginia has an abundance of coal, and they, too, are closing plants.

In the Pacific Northwest, hydropower is efficient, effective, and economical, but environmental groups are forcing their removal. Call or email the White House and tell the Obama administration to make good on the “all of the above” promise and not limit or mandate specific electricity sources.

  • Due to the combination of new technology and new applications of sixty-year-old technology, America now has an abundance of natural gas. Many markets across the globe need our natural gas—which could be liquefied and shipped worldwide and help the US trade deficit.

In a free market, companies should be allowed to sell their products to the highest bidder, but due to trade agreements and the slow approval process of applications to build new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals, this boost to the economy is being stifled. LNG exports are one of the few issues that truly have bipartisan support—yet, environmentalists oppose them and the Department of Energy has been dragging its feet on LNG export applications. Contact your Senators and Representative and tell them to oppose legislation that would limit LNG exports.

There is more we could do, but together these simple steps—passed on to everyone you know through Facebook, Twitter, and your personal email list, and acted upon—can serve as our forlorn hope (the first wave of soldiers attacking a breach in defenses). Let’s band together with a common strategy, a surge, that can turnaround the current direction and make America great again.

These articles were 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.


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

 

 

 

 

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