The second day of the legislative session is typically a slow one.
The first day has the glitz and glamour of dignitaries from around the state coming to see the State of the State. Occasionally, there is drama when it comes to leadership votes.
But the second day? Well, there are committee assignments (sometimes). There is the marathon lists of new bills giving the House and Senate clerk a vocal workout.
But, generally, the work is all behind the scenes. The legislative staff has to print out copies of each of these bills for each legislator and put them in binders so the legislators can refer to them when they need to. Plus, extra copies for observers to have so they can follow along.
With over 125 bills, memorials and joint resolutions introduced in the House and a similar amount in the Senate, that is plenty of work behind the scenes for the hardest-working people in the Legislature to do over the first few days.
Here's what you may have missed at NM Telegram on Wednesday:
in New Mexico don't see eye to eye with the governor on drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants
... The members
of the New Mexico congressional delegation responded to President Barack Obama's plan to reduce gun violence
... The city
of Albuquerque is facing a lawsuit over redistricting from LULAC
... Members of
the House leaving the legislature resulted in a shuffle in committee chairmanships
... State Rep.
Miguel Garcia introduced a bill that would require universal background checks for gun purchases
, closing the gun show exception...
On to the Word:
- We did not reach our fundraising goal. What does this mean? In short, it means that the donations that were pledged will not be sent. The fundraiser is over and there will be nothing transferred from the pledges to the NM Telegram Paypal account.
In the longer term, I will be looking at different ways to be able to cover the session (and still pay my bills) over the weekend. This will likely include a smaller fundraiser and looking at different ways to close the fundraising gap.
I can only say thank you to everyone who donated and helped out.
- Barry Massey of the Associated Press says New Mexico hasn't balanced its checkbook since 2006 because of an inadequate system.
At issue is faulty implementation of a $30 million computer system in 2006, during former Gov. Bill Richardson's administration. From the outset, there were problems converting to the new centralized system from separate accounting operations used by agencies, including the treasurer's office.
But the system known as SHARE, or the Statewide Human Resources, Accounting and Management Reporting System, didn't match fund balances shown by state agencies with cash in the state's bank accounts.
- When asked about Michael Sanchez's response to the State of the State Gov. Susana Martinez told Capitol Report New Mexico that Michael Sanchez "sounds a little bitter." Martinez said that she had not heard his comments yet.
- The Associated Press writes about the Senate approving webcasts of committees. The House has already done so. The next battle over transparency will be over whether either chamber will allow archiving of the webcasts.
New Mexico Foundation for Open Government executive director Gwyneth Doland applauded the decision to webcast committees, but called for the archiving in a statement.
"We are disappointed that the Legislature continues to refuse to allow archiving of its high-quality video," Doland said. "There's just no good reason for it. New Mexicans who want to follow issues that are important to them and their communities can't be chained to their desks all day waiting to hear a certain debate. Archiving means more people will be informed and engaged in the political process."
- The reports of the death of Voter ID legislation were greatly exaggerated, it appears. New Mexico Capitol Report says that Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, changed her mind.
“I changed my mind after hearing from my constituents,” she said in an interview. “The prevailing view is that election integrity is too important not to do anything.”Brown and fellow state Rep. Dianne Hamilton, R-Silver City, had previously said they would not introduce Voter ID legislation because it would not pass the legislature.
- Another proposal by Gov. Martinez is increased penalties for child abusers.
- New Mexico Compass looks at the drivers license debate.
- Former Sen. Dede Feldman, D-Albuquerque, weighed in on the the action in the legislature that she recently left. Her take on the election of Papen to Senate President Pro Tem is worth looking at:
The acclamation was a face-saving device which concealed the identities of the senators willing to form a coalition with the Republicans similar to the one headed by Tim Jennings four years ago. Most likely it was, John Sapien, George Munoz, John Arthur Smith, Clemente Sanchez, Joe Cervantes, and maybe more. Sad, isn’t it, that blue dog Democrats control the balance of power in the NM Senate, even in the face of a big Obama win here? It’s always debatable whether these folks, theoretically in the “middle,” are moderates wanting to find a compromise, or opportunists who don’t really have strong beliefs about anything, but want position and power.Feldman, of course, was one of the more liberal members of the state Senate.
- Three bills to reform the Public Regulation Commission, which would fill in the details of the constitutional amendments passed by voters in November, were introduced in the state legislature, Albuquerque Business First reports.
“These bipartisan bills implement the key reforms needed to resolve the fundamental problem that has plagued the PRC since its creation: it combines too much power with too few qualifications for commissioners,” said Fred Nathan, executive director of Think New Mexico.
- Cocoposts is back! She writes about the "in-between time" at the state legislature.
The fact of waiting obscures how much is going on in the in-between. The members of the legislature are famously overwhelmed with constant activity. Of course those employed during the session are dancing fast with specific responsibilities and divisions of labor. They are counted on to learn and repeat their steps with increasing speed in a sort of red shoes dance until the end of the session when they all fall down exhausted.
- KOB reports on legislation by Sen. Tim Keller, D-Albuquerque, designed to reduce class sizes.
- Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver is hoping for election modernization legislation to pass the state legislature.
Toulouse Oliver will be urging the legislature to support automation of the MVD voter registration process, which is required by federal law. Making the process electronic and automatic “just makes sense,” says Clerk Toulouse Oliver. She will also advocate for an online voter registration system, similar to that utilized successfully in Arizona, California and Washington State.
- Leslie Linthicum writes about "giant slayer" Cliff Pirtle. Pirtle defeated Tim Jennings, the Senate President Pro Tem, in November's elections.
Fifteen of the 42 senators are new to the body this year, but only Pirtle was credited with changing the face of the politics by knocking off Jennings, a Democrat from Roswell, who had been in the Senate since 1979 and in recent years was the Senate’s powerful leader.
- Albuquerque Business First reports that, once again, the state film industry will look for certainty from the state legislature when it comes to film incentives.
“The industry is not healthy. It’s not because we’re hitting any cap. We’re not healthy because we’re not competitive,” said Rick Clemente, owner of I-25 Studios.
- Supporters of legislation to require legislation to require labeling of genetically enhanced food will rally on Friday. The first Friday of the legislative session is usually a day off for legislators, though it is no guarantee -- especially with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day coming the following Monday.
- The Santa Fe New Mexican editorial board on Martinez seeking "common ground" in the legislative session.
Ahhh, that common ground. So popular in theory and so difficult to find in reality. What common ground often has meant to this governor — a fighter to the end — is, “Do it my way or not at all.” For the good of the state and its people, let us hope that going into this session, common ground reverts to a more traditional meaning. That, for example, common ground means that legislation with agreement can move forward quickly. Both Democrats and Republicans likely will favor giving employers a $1,000 tax break for hiring veterans. Her idea to exempt the pensions of veterans from state taxes also should receive backing from both parties. Get the agreed-upon business done and out of the way.
- The Journal editorial board, meanwhile, says the state can cover the price of wage increases with the money saved from state vacancies.
- Albuquerque attorney Sam Bregman will run for Democratic Party chair for a second time -- he narrowly lost to current chair Javier Gonzales. Bregman has been rumored as a possible Democratic candidate for governor in 2014.
Bregman said he is running again because he feels he has “unfinished business,” and says he wants to turn the state from “light blue to dark blue.”
- In health care news, Albuquerque Business First reports New Mexico's nonprofit health cooperatives are safe from the fiscal cliff because they have already been funded.
- Steve Terrell tells legislators that the media aren't all evil, citing a link for the Legislature's new members on the legislative website.
- The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the minimum wage in Santa Fe will go up to $10.51 on March 1.
- The Rio Rancho Observer says that Rio Rancho Public Schools is the latest school district to review its school safety procedures.
- Yes, gun and ammo sales are booming.
- Looks like the Weekly Alibi has an edition with original reported content for the first time since laying off its staff. It is the Alibi's Learning Issue.
- The Los Alamos Daily Post reports that the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos is facing an 8 percent shortfall.
- The Los Alamos has the first in a series on domestic violence. This is about a crisis center working to rehab domestic violence offenders.
- Bad news