Later today, look for details on another fundraising campaign. We all know that the previous fundraising campaign fell short. This will be a more modest fundraising goal but should be enough to get me up to Santa Fe at least a couple of times a week.
On to the Word:
- The Steve Terrell special: Terrell reports on the reported lobbyist expenses.
The most lavish party for New Mexico legislators this week — at least for the events that have been reported so far — was a $17,000 dinner at La Fonda paid for by a group of lobbyists.
However, comparing the legally required lobbyist expense reports with the Legislative social calendar, it’s apparent that some events for lawmakers are not being accounted for in the lobbyists’ reports.
- Lawmakers are targeting human traffickers with new laws.
- Albuquerque Business First the legislative priorities for the city of Albuquerque.
Specifically, Garcia said, the city is pushing for the change for manufacturing. The state taxes manufacturers on sales, personnel and property. A single sales factor tax policy would only tax corporations on their sales, and the thinking is that it will open up companies to adding more personnel and buying more property.
- Albuquerque Journal columnist Joline Gutierrez Krueger weighs in on the abortion debate in New Mexico.
House Bill 122, also known as the Woman’s Right To Know Act, would require a woman to view a play-by-play obstetric ultrasound and listen to the heartbeat of the unborn child she is preparing to abort.
The ultrasound — which could include the more invasive transvaginal kind if the woman and her physician so desired — would require the physician to serve as a uterine tour guide, pointing out to the woman all the organs and limbs the fetus has developed and the dimensions of each.
- New Mexico Capitol Report reports on a bill that would shakeup the university regent process.
- The high-wage jobs credit is costing the state $48 million according to a report by the Pew Center according to the Pew Center. New Mexico Telegram covered this earlier this month.
- This could be big if anything comes from it:
City Council President Dan Lewis and Councilor Don Harris announced Sunday that they intend to introduce legislation declaring the need to study and reshape the police oversight ordinance.
The resolution will call for public meetings, and it would make money available to hire an analyst to examine long-term trends in police complaints and other data.
- Milan Simonich says that Hanna Skandera deserves a confirmation hearing.
This is a case where Senate Democrats’ credibility is as much at stake as Skandera’s fitness for the job. No point is served in having a confirmation process for cabinet members if the controlling senators ignore a nominee year after year.
While the Senate has stalled, Skandera has been grading public schools, disciplining an entire school board and advocating for a retention program for thousands of third-graders.
- Steve Terrell says he is missing Fabian Chavez.
He made sure I knew of his impressive accomplishments — reforming state liquor laws, overhauling the corruption-tainted justice-of-the-peace system, passing the legislation to create the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. How he was a fierce advocate of civil rights back in the day when large segments of his own Democratic Party were not on board with that.
He loved to recount his campaign for governor. That was 1968, the year I moved to Santa Fe as a teen. I’ve said for years that my two favorite politicians were Chávez and David F. Cargo, the Republican who beat him by fewer than 3,000 votes.
- New Mexico Compass interviews Andy Nuñez, who was the state legislature's only independent.
- A bill in the New Mexico Senate would stop the practice of naming state buildings after politicians who are still in office.
- The Rio Rancho Observer covers the controversial rally that turned into an allegedly Christian rally at a public high school.
“I hate to characterize what parents say … we got both (positive and negative), but there were more that had concerns,” said Kim Vesely, spokeswoman for RRPS. “What they thought was going to happen at that event was not what happened, and I think it’s fair to say it’s not what we expected, either.
“The event was not sanctioned or approved by the district in any way; it was a private event,” she said. “The event’s sponsor rented the facility as per our facility agreement protocol; those are rooted in federal law (and) we can’t pick and choose who rents the facility.”
- The Taos News reports that a member of the Arroyo Hondo Land Grant Board is facing a "trial for forgery and attempted fraud."
The charges are related to a deed filed more than two years ago that has stalled real estate transactions inside the 20,000-acre Spanish land grant north of Taos.
A jury trial for Lawrence Ortíz is set in district court in Taos before Judge Jeff McElroy. Ortíz is a member of the Arroyo Hondo Land Grant Board of Trustees — a five-member board that claims to represent the heirs of the original settlers of the grant.
- The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports on the severe drought that Eddy County has suffered through over the last three years.
CID water Dudley Jones, CID manager, said although there is a lot of speculation about the amount of the water allotment for this current growing season, it is too early to tell what the allotment amount will be. However, he concedes it probably won't be much if the heavens don't open up soon and bring the needed moisture. The CID Board of Directors will announce the allotment amount at its March 12 meeting, Jones said.
- And a look at water levels in the Sandia Mountains from John Fleck in the Journal:
And, with Chudnoff’s help, McCoy and Holcomb carefully watch the levels in their well.The visit by Chudnoff, a water resources specialist for Bernalillo County, is part of a voluntary program to routinely measure the depth to groundwater in residential wells. For residents, it provides data to help manage their water supply, and the county hopes it will help provide data on what is happening to the region’s vital, but sometimes poorly understood, aquifer.
- An Aztec mill levy designed to fund school capital imporivements has some opponents.
Denise Nicholas, a Tea Party activist who lives in Aztec, believes the levy is a burden. Supporting the measure would legitimize raising taxes on struggling homeowners.The district superintendent notes that the mill levy vote will be for a renewal. It would be for $2 on every $1,000 in property.
"We don't need a third tax hike in three years," Nicholas said. "In the last 10 years, my property tax has gone up, up, up and the more they charge, the more we'll pay. The taxes always go in one direction and that's in an economy where putting food on the table is a daily challenge for many in the community."
Last month, Nicholas decided to make her frustration with the levy known. She printed up hundreds of flyers and temporarily interrupted her retirement to spend her days walking up and down Aztec spreading her message against the tax increase.
- The Albuquerque Journal says Ari Fleischer is (very likely) wrong about the effects of charity-giving laws.
- The city of Las Cruces settled a civil rights lawsuit against Las Cruces police.
Attorneys for the parties agreed during a settlement conference Wednesday in the courtroom of U.S. Magistrate Judge Lourdes A. Martinez that the city will pay plaintiff Steven Romero $85,000.
In exchange for the money, Romero has agreed to dismiss his lawsuit against three Las Cruces Police officers and the city.
- It is going to cost $70,000 more than planned to prepare the way for Stolar Energy to relocate to Rio Rancho.
- The Los Alamos city council is going to discuss a budget crisis in the city, the Los Alamos Monitor reports:
Staff had noted decreasing revenues during the yearly audit, estimating a $6.5 million shortfall based on revenues through August 2012. But Los Alamos National Laboratory spending dropped dramatically in September compared to previous years, resulting in a $3 million reduction in gross receipts tax flowing into county coffers. The county received that report in November, along with the news that the state was refunding part of LANL’s 2011 GRT, with the county’s share set at $3.5 million.
- Special education funding from the federal government may be cut in New Mexico because of a mistake from the education department.
For the past two years, PED hasn't been providing the required amount of funding for special education spelled out under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act. IDEA is a federal program that provides special education support to states as long as they earmark enough money in their own education budgets toward special education programs (all states have accepted IDEA funding).
- Out of the 30 applicaions that the city of Rio Rancho received for its city manager position, 27 are viable, the Rio Rancho Observer says.