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Morning Word: Gov Warns Lawmakers to Pump Brakes on Gas Tax

March 3, 2017, 7:30 am

Gov Promises Gas Tax Veto
Looking for desperately needed revenue, the Senate okayed a 10-cent-per-gallon gas tax hike. Along with an increase in diesel tax and the tax paid with the purchase of a new vehicle, the package would raise about $180 million annually. But Susana Martinez won't sign it. Her spokesman took to Twitter to offer 140 characters worth of analysis, ending with: "She will veto it." She'll likely win, too, because Democrats don't appear to have the votes to override a veto.

Into the Light
State senators approved a bill that would set the stage for New Mexico to effectively be on Daylight Saving Time the entire year. The measure has been sponsored for several years running by Sen. Cliff Pirtle, who says the switch to and from Daylight Saving Time jacks with our biorhythms and is generally dangerous. Technically, New Mexico would become part of the Central Time Zone.

No Mor(atorium)
The state House of Representatives failed to pass a proposed moratorium on charter schools, with the bill failing on a 34-34 tie vote, with three Democrats joining Republicans in opposition. It would have banned new charter schools until January 1, 2020. It seems unlikely the governor would have signed the measure.

Lunch Crunch
Several diners at Santa Fe's popular Jambo Cafe were injured—three seriously enough to go to the hospital—when an elderly woman in a Subaru crashed through the glass front of the restaurant and drove about 20 feet inside. Police say she likely mistook the gas pedal for the brake and panicked, backing full speed into a car outside the cafe before gunning the engine and driving into the restaurant. Lunch will be served in a food truck outside the restaurant today.

House Panel Blocks 'Born Alive' Anti-Abortion Bill
After two hours of intense testimony, the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee tabled a bill that would have required physicians performing abortions to provide life-saving care if an abortion resulted in an infant who had a heartbeat, umbilical pulse or muscle movement. Failure to do so would be a first-degree felony, punishable by life in prison. Controversy has swirled around the term "born alive," with proponents saying it describes cases such as those of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia doctor who botched three abortions that resulted in the death of infants. Opponents say the Gosnell case is the only such example.

Pot Possession Could Be Simply (a) Fine
Fifty bucks. That's what Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, thinks possessing up to a half-ounce of marijuana should cost if the law catches up with you. The state Senate agreed, passing proposed changes to criminal law. Cervantes says his bill will ease pressure on courts and jails across the state. It probably does not put pressure on Gov. Susana Martinez, who seems like she'll have the veto pen at the ready.

Nature Smokers
Long ago and in a fit of existential angst, the Word purchased a pack of American Spirit cigarettes. "Oh," the gas station cashier said with a wry grin, "you're one of those nature smokers." It would appear that's exactly what the Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company wanted him to say (so really he's not so clever). Court documents show the cigarette maker has to drop the terms "natural" and "additive-free" from its labeling and advertising material as part of a deal with the FDA. The company, which owner Reynolds American calls a top-10 super-premium brand, has seven months to make the changes.

MVD Emissions Change Costs Thousands of Drivers
When the state stopped using registration-reminder post cards to tell Albuquerque area drivers to get an emissions test, it seems a whole lot of people forgot. More than 3,500 of them have had their registrations suspended because of it. For some reason, the state opted to send a separate letter that either never arrived, was never actually sent, or looked too much like junk mail and ended up in the trash.

Thanks for reading! The Word is going to set its clocks ahead this Saturday as practice for either the New Time Order or normal Daylight Saving (which is March 12).

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