Get ready -- the legislative session is here. Or will be in just a few hours.
By the time you read this, I very well may be on my way up to Santa Fe to cover Gov. Susana Martinez's State of the State address. The other thing to watch for is the Senate President Pro Tem race -- seeing whether Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, really has the votes to become the next Pro Tem, as she says she does, or if Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, will take over from Tim Jennings.
Jennings, by the way, said goodbye to the legislature yesterday
The Democrats have already announced their response, which will be given by Martinez nemesis Michael Sanchez, will happen tomorrow afternoon. That will be almost as interesting as Martinez's address to a jam-packed House chambers.
More from the Telegram on Monday: The Weekly Word podcast spoke to those behind the New Mexico Compass
... Albuquerque will have a mail-in election to decide a runoff question
... Want to know who to follow on Twitter to follow what is happening at the legislative session? We have the guide
On to the Word:
- It snowed in many parts of New Mexico. OK, got that out of the way.
- Can't make it up to Santa Fe? KNME said they will be airing coverage of the legislative coverage "beginning with the opening gavel" tomorrow. It will be both on channel 5.1 and at newmexicopbs.org. So if you aren't in Santa Fe, join Gene Grant, UNM professor Lonna Atkenson, former state Rep. Dan Foley and former Director of Legislative Affairs for Gov. Richardson Eric Witt.
- The Albuquerque Journal on the changes to the state legislature.
- The Associated Press on the Senate leadership race.
A race for the top leadership job in the Senate will be decided Tuesday when the Legislature convenes, but Democrats vying for the post say they don't expect the contest to leave lasting wounds within the party during the 60-day session.
- The Albuquerque Journal looks at a bill to shield those involved with space flight from lawsuits.
New Mexico law already protects spacecraft operators such as Virgin Galactic, the lone tenant at Spaceport America, from lawsuits filed by space passengers who pay as much as $200,000 per ticket to someday fly into suborbital space.
But officials with Virgin and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority say other states hoping to lure companies to their own spaceports have gone one step further, adding legal protection for manufacturers.
- New Mexico Capitol Report previews the State of the State. A big piece:
She proposes to strengthen the private sector by cutting the corporate tax rate. Martinez said a tax structure more favorable to business would make the state more attractive and more competitive with Texas, Arizona, Colorado and Utah.
- I'm not sure if there is any real push for a statewide minimum wage increases at this year's legislative session, but Albuquerque Business First says that 93 percent of businesses would oppose such a push. The survey is by the conservative-leaning National Federation of Independent Business.
- The Santa Fe New Mexican looks at the relative calm before the storm and what it takes to get the Roundhouse ready for the session.
- The Santa Fe Reporter says that Democrats may use their larger advantage in the House to pass more bills.
Egolf does not expect Democrats will use their advantage in the House to “jam things through” committee. At the same time, Egolf said, Democrats are not planning to “have a bipartisan vote on every bill” that comes up in committee.
- The Clovis News Journal previews the legislative session -- though the graphic on how a bill becomes law makes it seem as if all bills have to originate in the House.
Curry and Roosevelt County state legislators gave high priority to education reform; financial reforms to keep state government solvent; and economic development: Finding ways to increase business growth in the state.
- The Los Alamos Monitor reports on area legislators previews of the session, including newly-elected state Rep. Stephanie Garcia-Richard.
- New Mexico Capitol Report reports on Jennings' last day in office.
He also complained that tens of thousands of dollars from outside New Mexico was used by Martinez's camp to attack him."New Mexico elections should be determined by New Mexicans," Jennings said.
- Rep. Andy Nunez said goodbye too. Capitol Report New Mexico:
The plain-speaking Nuñez — a sort of Hispanic Ben Cartwright — was in the middle of so many big legislative stories in the past three years, ranging from leading a failed attempt to unseat then-Speaker of the House Ben Luján to fighting an unsuccessful attempt to rescind the state law granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
- The Police Oversight Commission cleared an Albuquerque Police Department officer in a shooting. This is, of course, controversial. Jeff Proctor of the Journal has the story.
- Santa Fe mayor David Coss wants stricter gun laws.
“Every mayor knows every community is suffering from gun violence….not necessarily a mass shooting like Newtown or Aurora but it could happen here,” Mayor Coss said.
Coss also showed a new ad by Mayors Against Gun Violence that will start airing nationwide.
- Rob Nikolewski at Capitol Report New Mexico says there is likely more money coming to crack down on doping of horses in horse racing.
- The Associated Press reports that the Library of Congress will get the unedited footage from a TV program on the Bataan Death March.
Sen. Tom Udall and the Oasis Veterans History Project in New Mexico asked New Mexico PBS last week to submit the footage from "Bataan: A 70th Anniversary Commemoration" to the library's permanent collection.New Mexico PBS produced the program with Bataan survivors. That program aired Memorial Day 2012 and featured interviews with survivors Pedro "Pete" Gonzalez and Bill Overmier.
- Former State Rep. Conrad James was appointed to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents. James, a Republican from Albuquerque, lost his race for a second term in New Mexico.
- Steve Terrell looks at the historical control of the state legislature. Democrats have largely been in control of the legislature for decades. But there is this interesting tidbit:
According to Tracey Kimball of the Legislative Council Service, there were five New Mexico lawmakers who were "progressive Republicans," aka Bull Moose Party members between 1912 and 1916. And there was one real live socialist elected to the House during the early years. W. C. Tharp House served in the 1915 and 1916. He represented a district in Curry County, which, at least in recent years, is not considered a hotbed of socialism.
- An audit of the Taos Housing Authority will officially support a biomass plant.
- Haven't heard much from Sunland Park lately... let's check in. It turns out the case against the former mayor-elect may be delayed.
Salinas is charged with more than 30 counts including extortion, bribery and illegal kickbacks.
Salinas never became mayor because after being arrested he was barred from being on city property or having contact with the city clerk who would swear him in.
"There are some discovery that has not been produced that is still missing so that is really the main reason," Salinas' attorney, Joshua Spencer, told ABC-7.