Good morning! Welcome to the first Monday of the 60-day legislative session! Don't look so tired. Get some coffee because this is only the second week of this madness.
Consider this a little Monday morning briefing: The Senate Finance Chair talks on video about furloughing state employees, more on the House Speaker and Iron Maiden, a correction and a run down of today's special interest-sponsored receptions.
Budging for the Budget
To bring you up to speed: The first order of business is this year's budget, the one that has to last until summer. On Friday, I found Sen. John Arthur Smith, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, burning the late afternoon hours. You know, he really does have an open door policy. We talked about the urgency of creating an immediate short term solution and the real possibility of furloughing state employees.
I'll say that again: furloughs. What, do you need to hear it set to dramatic music? OK:
On Thursday, I posted a short brief about two Iron Maiden tickets that House Speaker Ben Lujan accepted as a gift from a Budweiser distributor. Is the Speaker a Maiden fan? As it turns out, no. Friday afternoon, Lujan invited me to his lair to discuss the two $55 tickets (he actually called while we were filming Arthur's clip.
The Speaker did not directly benefit from the tickets. He did not go to the May 25, 2008 Iron Maiden show. A guy at Premier Distributing Company had offered Lujan the tickets, so Lujan asked around and found a "constituent" who wanted them. Lujan didn't ask what the tickets were worth, but in retrospect, he says he should have.
To tell you the truth, I'm not sure I buy his story:
Lujan also agreed to shoot a video interview, clips from which we'll be releasing all this week. Issues covered: College of Santa Fe, ethics and his son, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan.
Yippee for cats and dogs
Legislation in raw form, with its strikes and underlines, new language and old, can sometimes be hard to interpret. Wirth pointed out how were inaccurate about SB127, his bill to hold animal abusers financially accountable for their actions through bonding.
Initially we'd indicated that Wirth had added language allowing the destruction of animals after 15 days if an owner doesn't put up the money. That was actually part of the old language, which hasn't changed. .
In the post's comments, Steven Suttle, Special Counsel in the New Mexico Attorney General's Office, applauds Wirth and adds, "SB 127 is intended to address the growing problem of the financial burden placed on local shelters in caring for seized animals."
Party in the Lobby
And now for this today's social calendar. And, yes they're all "Invitation Only" (we tried to sweet talk the CVNM but nothing doin'), except for the Comedy Revue which hasn't been announced yet. We'll see what we can find out...and maybe we'll just loiter in the lobby.
Conservation Voters NM Legislative Reception
Rio Chama The President's Room,
5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Eddy County Legislative Reception
Hotel Santa Fe
5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Republican Party of New Mexico Legislative Reception
Inn and Spa at Loretto
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Roundhouse Comedy Revue
7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
$25 per person</p>
UPDATE: I found the info on the comedy revue.
Location: The Lodge at Santa Fe, 750 N. St. Francis Dr.. Santa Fe, NM 87501
Date: 1/26/2009 from 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm (Mountain Time)
Hosted By: New Mexico VOICES for Children
RSVP by: January 25, 2009 at 5:00 pm (Mountain Time), Phone (505) 244-9505 Fax (505) 244-9509 firstname.lastname@example.org
These kind of parties are kinda undemocratically elite (except for the comedy revue), doncha think? They also go on all the time in DC. Check out who's wining and dining your Congressman at PoliticalPartyTime.com.