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Morning Word: Ready or Not, Here They Come!

May 24, 2017, 7:30 am

Special session begins
The good men and women you've elected to serve you in the state Legislature are back at the Roundhouse for the special session that starts at high noon today. It's a budget showdown and everyone's got one of those Clint Eastwood plate-steel setups from A Fistful of Dollars. The main point of contention is going to be how to pare back a budget that's outpaced the state's revenues. The governor seems dead-set against any overt tax increases, and legislators seem increasingly reluctant to slash next year's budget any further. 

One less thing to do
While tax reform is on the governor's to-do list, that's as far as it's going to go. Speaker of the House Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, says he does not plan to take up a 408-page bill by Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, that would dramatically reshape New Mexico's gross receipts tax system. The governor isn't pleased, Harper is disappointed and Egolf says it's likely the Legislature will pass a Republican plan to study the issue for the next session.

Ticket to override
One thing the Speaker of the House did say he planned on doing was give members a chance to override the governor's vetoes of higher education and legislative funding. Speaker Egolf says that when the Supreme Court dismissed a petition to challenge the legality of those vetoes, it noted lawmakers hadn't tried that option. Egolf would have to pick up nine Republicans to pull off an override. Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, wouldn't commit to an override attempt, which his caucus could do without any Republican support.

Gubernatorial marijuana scorecard
SFR's cover story examines the five dispensaries in Santa Fe that serve a booming number of medical marijuana card holders. It's a squeeze the program is feeling in many counties across New Mexico. Aaron Cantú also breaks down the medical and recreational cannabis views of one likely and three declared candidates for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. The issue seems on the cusp of becoming a major legislative debate.

Chan mistrial ... again
A jury once more declared itself at an impasse after three hours of deliberating on the issue of whether Tai Chan committed murder when he shot and killed then-fellow deputy Jeremy Martin at a Las Cruces hotel in October 2014. According to attorneys, the jury seemed to lean more toward a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, but couldn't agree on that, either. It's unclear if the district attorney will try Chan for a third time. 

Mayoral hopefuls meet
Six people running for Albuquerque mayor faced each other last night in one of the campaign's first public forums. The conversation covered familiar territory like immigration, economic development and police reform. On that topic, all six candidates agreed the police department seems to be dragging its feet on reform and that current police chief Gorden Eden should be fired.

UNM regent Fortner resigns
Jack Fortner, the longest-serving regent at the University of New Mexico, resigned his seat yesterday. He'd agreed to stay on after his term ended because the state Senate hadn't confirmed his replacement. The UNM Board of Regents has become an area of interest for the governor recently, as it's taken on more direct oversight functions of the cash-flush Health Sciences Center.

NM nuke sites benefit under Trump budget
New Mexico's national laboraties, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant and other Department of Energy sites around the state would see a $300 million increase under President Trump's proposed budget. The budget shifts $1.4 billion to the National Nuclear Security Administration, taking money away from scientific endeavors at DOE like renewable energy research.

Thanks for reading! The Word thinks the state should create a tax-reform app for your phone, so you can just adjust taxes until you get something you're happy with and then send it back to them. What? We're the only ones who'd download that?

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