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Morning Word: Brewers Worry Excise Tax Would Stop Industry 'In Its Tracks'

September 20, 2016, 7:30 am
Brewers Oppose Proposed Excise Tax
The state’s craft brewers are speaking out against a proposed new excise tax, which could raise close to $154 million, but are two and a half times higher than any other state’s tax rate. The business claim the tax would stop the industry “in its tracks.” Lawmakers are looking at all revenue options to help resolve New Mexico’s growing state budget deficit. Supporters of the tax say they money is needed to ”help cover some of the public costs associated with excessive drinking, such as related police hours, court services and medical treatment.”

State Spending Could Violate the Law
State Auditor Tim Keller wants Gov. Susana Martinez to hurry up and call a special session to resolve the budget shortage and says the administration may be violating the law by continuing to spend money it doesn’t have.

Legal Pot Could Top Half a Billion
Legalizing cannabis in New Mexico could generate first year revenues over $412 million and create almost 11,500 new jobs, according to an economic report produced by UNM Economist Kelly O’Donnell. If lawmakers approve the drug for adult social use, sales in the second year are estimated to grow to $677.7 million, or three times the state’s pecan crop. The governor has said she opposes the idea of legalizing cannabis.

Drug Makers' Political Influence Investigated
It looks like drug makers have spent millions nationally fighting legislation aimed at limiting the use of opioids. The Associated Press teamed up with the Center for Public Integrity to analyze the pharmaceutical industry's lobbying efforts and campaign contributions nationally from 2005-2015. In New Mexico, the big firms contributed $337,000 and some analysts say that’s influenced the way lawmakers vote on measures aimed at reducing things like drug use in the state.

Union Urges Governor to Fire Corrections Secretary
New Mexico Corrections Department Secretary Gregg Marcantel and three other agency officials face a vote of no confidence after union guards say they’ve been unable to resolve safety concerns, mandatory overtime and staffing issues.
Martinez appointed Marcantel as secretary of corrections in September 2011, a surprise choice because he had spent most of his career as an investigator with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and did not have a background in running prisons. State senators twice confirmed him overwhelmingly, impressed by his interest in reducing the number of repeat offenders who must be returned to prison.
Cops' Murder Trail Begins with Conflicting Opinions
The attorney prosecuting two former Albuquerque Police officers accused of murdering camper James Boyd two years ago says the homeless camper no longer posed a threat when he was shot and killed. Defense attorneys disagree and say the cops had to make a split-second decision to protect an unarmed K-9 officer. A police shooting expert from California, who has reviewed more than a 100 shootings, says the police made many bad decisions, including removing a crisis team negotiator from the scene.

Open Government Group Hiring Process in Las Cruces
The City of Las Cruces may have violated the state’s Open Meetings Act if they voted behind closed doors to hire Stuart Ed, the city’s new manager. But city councilors and the mayor say the hiring decision isn’t final and they’ll discuss it at their first meeting in October.


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