The Morning Word took an extra day off because of the reporting over the last frantic hours of the session.
A very late night led into a frantic and controversial final minutes showed huge tax changes going through with very little time for thought and no time for legislators to read what they were voting on -- let alone understand the language and impact of the bill.
You can read the New Mexico Telegram report here
. The bill's passage means there will be no special session
, as Gov. Susana Martinez says she will sign the budget and the tax bill.
Meanwhile in the Senate, a bill to require background checks for all sales of guns at gun shows ran out of time after a filibuster
in the dying moments of the session.
On to the Word:
- New Mexico will be well-represented in the NCAA tournament. The University of New Mexico Lobos snagged a 3-seed, tied for their best seed ever after winning the Mountain West Conference regular season and tournament titles, while New Mexico State University got a 13-seed after winning the WAC tournament. Get your brackets ready.
- Milan Simonich on the end of the session:
Preserving sacrosanct committees is always Martinez's excuse for trying to keep a bill to repeal driver's licenses for illegal immigrants from being heard by the full House of Representatives. Kenny the Deal Maker hates the repeal bill. Therefore it needs to go through committees to die.
But on Saturday, Martinez was more than happy to let the monster tax credit bill that he had worked out with the Republican leadership be voted on without a single committee hearing in the House of Representatives.
- The Albuquerque Journal's John Robertson takes a crack at explaining the end of the session.
- The Santa Fe New Mexican notes that Santa Fe area legislators had a lot of bills passed.
- Senate Minority Leader STuart Ingle, R-Portales, told the Clovis New Journal that a lot that got done during the session.
- KUNM reports on something that did not get done this session -- a Gaming Compact between the Navajo Nation and the state of New Mexico.
The current Navajo Nation Gaming Compact is set to expire in 2015. However, with the states next legislative session focused only on budget matters, tribal officials say there will be no chance for the bill to be heard next year, leading to an expiration of the agreement.
This is not completely accurate from the Navajo Nation; the governor can approve other bills to be introduced during the short session. And there is the always interesting possibility of a special session.
In other words, come 2015, the Navajo Nation will likely have to find another way to continue gaming operations in New Mexico at it's two casinos, without an existing gaming compact with the state.
- A lottery fix did not pass the legislative session.
- From New Mexico Compass and its shiny new website; news that the Albuquerque city council will meet in the wake of a verdict in a wrongful death verdict that went against the city.
- The Farmington Daily-Times reports on controversial abortion signs popping up around San Juan County. One anti-abortion activist cites Post "Post Abortion Stress Syndrome" which likely does not even exist.
- Steve Terrell writes about some big bills not being heard until late into the night. Well, actually just HB 77, the gun control bill, in the Senate Judiciary Committee. But this is an annual complaint -- why are the bills with the most public interest saved for last?
- Is an explosion in construction in Rio Rancho due to a moratorium on impact fees or a side-effect of a strengthening economy? The Rio Rancho Observer looks into it.
- Julie Ann Grimm at the Santa Fe New Mexican wrote about the use of social media during the legislative session -- and spoke to yours truly.
- Former Albuquerque mayor Jim Baca seems more resigned at the end of the session than anything else:
The corporate tax cut over a period of years is questionable. But it is hardly a sell out by the Democrats who got their own tax cuts of sort in the film incentive program. I am sure there are some other special interest laws that were passed that we don't know about, but that is the way it all works.
The overall winners here are the Governor, Speaker of the House Ken Martinez, and special interest lobbyists who got tax breaks for their clients.
- New Mexico's unemployment rate held steady at 6.6 percent, Albuquerque Business First reports, citing the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Will the next gas boom be in the Four Corners area of New Mexico? The Associated Press reports on oil executives saying the Mancos shale area could touch off a boom that would be a boon to the area and the state.
- The Albuquerque Journal is in on that story too.
- More than 5,000 were drawn to White Sands Missile Range for the annual Bataan Memorial Death March.
- Yet another attempt to rid the state of feral hogs -- this time with $1 million in federal funds for a pilot project. And, yes, this is an actual problem.
“They’re much brighter than I am,” said Ray Powell, a veterinarian and New Mexico’s land commissioner. “If they had the dexterity, they’d be driving vehicles around. I mean, these guys are really smart.”
- Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry said he won't appoint a new police chief until after the October election -- this would give the winner of October's mayoral election the ability to choose the new head of the Albuquerque Police Department. Of course, it would probably be very hard to get any top tier candidate to try to come into a department with the political uncertainty and DOJ investigation looming over the embattled department.
- Albuquerque city councilor Isaac Benton told KOB that councilors should have a say in the decision.
- The Albuquerque Journal reports that Berry says outgoing police chief Ray Schultz isn't running away.
- The Las Vegas Police Department is losing an officer to retirement after just eight years on the force -- the officer is a canine unit, Officer Kiran. Another canine unit is being transferred to another department.
- Winthrop Quigley on a looming gay rights ruling from the state Supreme Court; at issue is whether wedding photographers can deny their services to a gay couple for a commitment ceremony.
The Huguenins are arguing that wedding photography is a form of expression protected by the First Amendment. Our First Amendment protections include a right not to be compelled to express something inconsistent with our own beliefs. You can’t force someone to say the Pledge of Allegiance, for example.
Willock and her supporters say that a wedding photographer is offering a service for sale to the public that is akin to architectural or Web design services. There is creativity involved, certainly, but it is just a service. They say that what Elane Photography is doing is in no way different from denying services to a mixed-race couple, should one’s understanding of the Bible be that blacks and whites or Asians and Latinos should not be allowed to marry.
- The Arroyo Hondo land grant ruling by a district court judge is still wreaking havoc on the Taos-area real estate industry.
- A bill that would expand fireworks restrictions that could be imposed by local governments failed in the state legislature the Ruidoso News reports.
- Not everyone gets what they want in the capital outlay process. The Raton Range:
The list of capital-outlay money for projects in Colfax County was significantly pared down before the final funding bill was passed by the Legislature, with each of the City of Raton’s requests eliminated.
Colfax County also saw it’s request for help with renovations and an addition to the Vigil-Maldonado Detention Center pushed aside by lawmakers before the capital-outlay bill (the Senate Finance Committee’s substitute for Senate Bill 60) passed the Senate 42-0 and the House 66-0.
- Rio Rancho's governing body has three suggestions to the mayor for a new city manager. The city ousted their old city manager James Jimenez (as way of disclosure, Jimenez is my brother's father-in-law) last summer.
- A Carlsbad Current-Argus reporter had the top story in the Texas/New Mexico cluster of Digital First Media for January.
An interview with a 6-year-old victim of a drive-by shooting resulted in a big award for Current-Argus reporter Taryn Walker. Her story and video on Emma Hernandez, who was injured when a stray bullet hit her in the wrist on Jan. 21, was selected as January's top story for the Texas/New Mexico cluster of Digital First Media.
- The Clovis New Journal roreports on a woman fighting an eminent domain claim.
- Albuquerque Business First writes about a bill that passed that would allow community banks to buy municipal bonds.
- Activist Angelica Rubio writes about a conference call on immigration reform with Sen. Martin Heinrich.