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Morning Word: Senator Says Guv Lobbied for Lease Deal

March 14, 2017, 12:00 am

Senator Says Martinez Lobbied for Real Estate Deal
This keeps getting more interesting. Santa Fe Senator and Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth says Gov. Susana Martinez personally asked him to vote to approve an unusual real estate lease that existing state law wouldn't allow. He did. But then senators discovered over the weekend that the $1.9 million lease is in a building owned by campaign donors who gave more than $20,000 to Martinez. The Republican sponsor of the bill recalled it, stalling approval for the lease.

New Mexico Has Nation's Worst Unemployment Rate
The worst. That's what the recent employment report from the feds says about New Mexico's jobless situation. At 6.7 percent, the state's unemployment rate towers above neighbors like Colorado, which dropped below 3 percent, and the national average of 4.8 percent. The ignominious distinction provides rhetoric we're sure to hear during the Legislature's last week in session.

Comparing Obama and Trump on Healthcare
The Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan agency tasked with evaluating the impact of proposed legislation, says President Trump's healthcare plan would reduce the deficit by $337 billion versus Obamacare over the next decade—but also that 24 million fewer people would have health insurance. Reaction from New Mexico's congressional delegation fell along party lines.

House Approves New Political Donation Disclosure Rules
Political groups that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on elections—as long as they do it "independently" of candidates—would have to disclose the source of their donations, a major change to current law that passed the House yesterday. The bipartisan bill raises the total contributions allowed to Legislative candidates. If the Senate agrees, with House tweaks, the bill is on its way to the governor.

House Committee Blocks Background Checks for Gun Shows, Online Sales
The headline about says it all. The bill would have expanded requirements for selling a gun to include background checks for purchases made at a gun show and online in New Mexico. One Democrat joined with six Republicans to set the bill aside, likely killing it for the current legislative session, which ends Saturday.

New Mexicans Can't Sue Texas Docs for Malpractice
The state Supreme Court ruled yesterday the New Mexico medical malpractice law doesn't apply to residents who have medical procedures outside of the state. Texas has much more restrictive malpractice laws, making it harder to sue doctors. Many New Mexicans in the eastern part of the state get medical care across state lines.

Santa Fe Library Staff Believes Couple May Have Desecrated Quran
Earlier this month, it appears some self-styled guerrilla activism went way too far at the Southside public library. Staffers there called the police after finding what appeared to be pee on copies of the Quran, the holy book of Islam. They also suspected a couple who had parked their Wyoming-plated Ford F250 in the parking lot of placing copies of the Bible and Ann Coulter's books around the library in an apparent effort to encourage people to read them.

Hemp Advocates Voice Support
Gov. Martinez vetoed both bills this session to create an industrial hemp program in the state. It's something dozens of other states have done. Martinez didn't explain her vetoes, though she's previously articulated her concern about the crop's similarity in appearance to marijuana and the difficulties that might present for law enforcement. Yesterday, advocates met in the governor's office to sing a Lithuanian folk song about growing hemp. The lyrics (this is true) talk a lot about growing by the sea. Might our landlocked state's governor be skeptical of the seafaring ways of hemp growers? Only the ocean knows, my friends.

Thanks for reading! The Word thinks this would be a pretty solid beach day if we had any water.

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