The Senate Public Affairs Committee had a busy night.
The committee had a series of high profile bills in front of it, from drivers license legislation to gun control legislation. Neither advanced to the next committee, although the gun control legislation will be back on Thursday for another hearing in the committee.
Such hearings will be more and more commonplace in coming days. And as the very final days tick off the calendar, to mix some metaphors, floor hearings can go past midnight -- wreaking havoc with newspaper deadlines.
Luckily, the Word comes out at 4:30 am, so the late night news will be here -- and posts will continue to go up until the stories are over.
On to the Word:
- The March 5 edition of the Legislative Roundup from the Santa Fe New Mexican is up.
- The Albuquerque City Clerk says that ballots signed after they were sent (that is, people who went into the offices to sign the ballots) on the current ballot question to increase the level of support needed to avoid a runoff cannot be counted. Expect a legal challenge, as Democrats are not happy.
A statement from Democratic Party of New Mexico chairman Javier Gonzales:
“Despite nothing in the city law that says she can’t allow voters to come in and fix their ballots, Amy Bailey decided today – seemingly out of the blue – to actively work to disenfranchise Albuquerque voters seeking to cast a legal ballot. These things don’t happen by coincidence. Mayor RJ Berry knows full well that he can’t win a majority of voters in this city, so he’s ordering his flacks at the City Clerk to help him rig the election.
- Tucked in a Santa Fe Reporter story about Gov. Susana Martinez's low rate of pardons, another example of secrecy from the governor's office:
The data include all pardon applications reviewed by the 15-member, governor-appointed Parole Board. (Not all pardon applications go through the Parole Board, however, so more people may have applied than the 100 whose applications SFR reviewed.) Parole Board officials told SFR they were not authorized to comment for this story. The governor’s office also declined SFR’s repeated requests for comment.
Although SFR requested all pardon applications—including any supporting documentation applicants submit to bolster their case—the governor’s office declined to provide the applications, citing executive privilege. Instead, the office provided 95 form letters telling most applicants that their pardon requests had been denied. Garcia was among them.
- Milan Simonich writes about a Snate vote to overhaul the A-F school grading system. Simonich has been following this story since well before the session.
- The bill that would ban texting while driving seems to be stuck in limbo after getting a second lease on life earlier this session, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports.
- Meanwhile, a bill to allow stem cell research in New Mexico passed on a 23-16 vote in the Senate. Sen. Bill Sharer, R-Farmington, was vehemently against the legislation.
- The Santa Fe Reporter reports on the extensive travel of Public Education Department secretary-designate Hanna Skandera -- and finds that some are paid for by non-profits with contracts with the state of New Mexico.
- Union officials say that the Public Education Department has been harassing employees who opposed Skanderas's nomination. A spokesman's comments makes it sound as if the comments were done while at work.
- Capitol Report New Mexico looks at the arugment for legalizing and taxing marijuana -- or at least decriminalizing the drug.
- Thom Cole keeps the coffee pot drumbeat going, researching the $2,700 coffeemaker recently installed in the governor's mansion. The most eye-popping thing to me? It still only serves one cup of coffee at a time! My girlfriend's Keurig does that for a fraction of the cost.
- An anti-fracking bill was tabled and Sen. Bill Sharer, R-Farmington, was given some of the credit (or blame, depending on your point of view) for this.
- A pilot of a TV show called "The Sixth Gun" will shoot in New Mexico. It's just a pilot, so it is anything but a sure thing to actually air. And it is anything but a sure thing that it will decide to film in New Mexico. But the so-called "Breaking Bad bill" that incentivizes TV shows for filming in the state can only help if it becomes law.
- The governor wants legislators to pass Spaceport liability legislation.
- The final test flights for the Spaceport are coming up.
- New Mexico Compass writes about women in combat.
- The Red River mayor was caught on video berating officers enforcing liquor laws on Mardi Gras.
- Ruidoso residents could see higher water bills to help with conservation and deal with aging water infrastructure.
- A Curry County Commissioner praised a public employee for saving taxpayer money on a prison kitchen remodel. The Clovis News Journal:
Curry County commissioners say the price for renovating the jail kitchen has dropped from $4 million to $300,000 because of the work of one man — Facilities Operations Director Joe Wright.
“He did this on his own,” Commissioner Robert Sandoval said Tuesday. “Not as an employee, but as a taxpayer and on his own time.”
- The Alamogordo city commission and school board will meet to discuss the site of a new elementary school.
- President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration for the Navajo Nation over extreme temperatures and damage from those temperatures this winter, KUNM reports.
- A man received a $15.5 million settlement after suing for being held in solitary confinement for two years.
- Taos County is taking control of EMS overtime after overtime seemed to be "skyrocketing" according to county manager Stephen Archuleta.