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Morning-Word

Morning Word, 03-29-13

The New Mexico news recap

March 29, 2013, 8:00 am
By Matthew Reichbach
One of the bills that was spoken about a lot before the session was signed into law by Gov. Susana Martinez today. It was a health insurance exchange bill -- one that could make it so New Mexico could control its own insurance exchange instead of the federal government running the state's exchange.

NM Telegram had a story on it. And so did New Mexico In Depth.

It is an important bill relating to the health care reform bill that passed Congress and was signed into law by Barack Obama. But implementation in the states has been spotty.

Critics of the New Mexico legislation say it is too tilted towards the insurance companies -- but proponents say it will help the companies as well as consumers.

On to the Word:
  • New Mexico Compass recaps the legislative session.
    The system is opaque at best. Another symptom of this process is what I’ll politely call “the last-minute freakout.” As the session’s final hour draws near, bills emerge from dark corners, squinting in the light, and hit the floor for a vote. Things really begin to happen at the Roundhouse in the last week, the last day, the last minutes. Suddenly, the previous 60 days come to a full boil.
    As someone who has covered multiple sessions, and spoke to many who were in attendance to even more, I can tell you the end of this session was even more insane than most.
  • >
  • A new report shows that New Mexico is lagging behind the recovery of the rest of the country. The Santa Fe Reporter has the lowlights.
  • The Albuquerque Journal reports on a Brookings Institution report on how Albuquerque is doing very poorly when it comes to economic recovery.
    Brookings ranked Albuquerque’s overall recovery from the Great Recession at 91st out of 100 metropolitan areas as of the end of 2012. Its employment growth ranked 100. Albuquerque’s overall recovery ranked 86th at the end of the third quarter of 2012.
  • Average wages in Bernalillo County are down, Albuquerque Business First says.
  • Rio Rancho will be feeling the harm from the end of hold harmless the Rio Rancho Observer reports.
    According to a report from City of Rio Rancho Financial Services Director Olivia Padilla-Jackson, estimates indicate the city’s general fund will lose about $252,000 in fiscal year 2015-16, up to $8.4 million in fiscal year 2029-30. Medical and food hold-harmless distributions have been among the highest-performing sectors bringing in sales tax-related revenue for the city.
    Sandoval County will have a face a smaller hit.
  • The sequester, meanwhile, is having its effect on Taos County -- costing the rural county $80,000. The Taos News:
    About half of Taos County — 700,000 acres — is made up of federal lands, which are not subject to property taxes. That includes the 240,000 acres that were designated as a national monument Monday (March 25).

    In the last four years, the county has received about $1.4 million a year (about 10 percent of the total general fund budget) through PILT. However, the sequester imposed by Congress has enacted across-the-board cuts for government agencies and programs, including PILT.
  • Rio Rancho Republicans who say elections should be run again because of long lines are filing a lawsuit to that effect. Milan Simmonich is, well, not supportive of the effort. He aims his column at state Senate candidate David Doyle:
    The general idea behind Doyle's mindless litigation is that, because Sandoval County leans Republican, he would have won if Election Night had been smooth and efficient.

    Drat. Too bad for Doyle that courts require hard evidence, not squishy speculation. His lawsuit is doomed, just like his unremarkable political career.
  • The designation of Rio Grande del Norte as a national monument could help the economy is expected to help the economy in the Taos area.
  • The Santa Fe Charter Review Commission voted unanimously to scrap three proposed changes to the city charter. The Santa Fe New Mexican sayst he three changes are "term limits for city councilors, at-large districts for councilors and mandatory mail ballots for certain elections."
  • CNM Chronicle editor Jyllian Roach wrote in the Weekly Alibi about the suspension.
    So why do it? Because we do not talk about sex openly. Sex, sexuality, gender identity and masturbation: these are not dirty words. It is not wrong to talk about these concepts and practices. People have sex. Our parents did it, we do it and, one day, our kids will do it, too. Not talking about these things puts people at risk, not just for pregnancy and STD/STIs, but for abusive relationships, misguided decisions and self-loathing.
    There were some good pieces in the paper -- but it could have been done a lot better with a firmer hand to guide it. Some of the more frivolous parts could have been cut out.
  • Veteran New Mexico reporter VB Price at New Mexico Mercury writes about the backtrack from the administration.
    CNM explained itself saying it had been worried about the legal ramifications of a story quoting a high school student, one who advocates sexual abstinence. I don’t get it . But that’s not what they said at first when they closed the paper. They accused the student staff of bad judgment, of running a raunchy edition on contemporary sexual issues (that had no nudity or obscenity), and complained that there wasn’t enough “oversight” or, by implication, control of the staff.
    Prices mentions the journalism department at CNM -- the community college has no journalism department.
  • The Rio Grande Sun continues to report on a proposed rate hike from the Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative.
    A Santa Fe County commissioner said his commission would protest the proposed rate increases, an assistant manager of a mobile home park said his residents were already packing their bags to escape the proposed rate hikes and a Pojoaque Valley School District board member said the Co-op needed to find a way to prevent an exodus from the school district.
  • A Farmington city councilor wants to know if they can receover funds embezzled from the city Convention and Visitors Bureau.
  • New Mexico Gas Co. is withdrawing a proposal for a large liquified natural gas facility in Rio Rancho, Albuquerque Business First reporst. ABF says it was opposed by "the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, the New Mexico Industrial Energy Consumers group and the staff of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission."
  • Rio Rancho approved a new city manager unanimously. The city council named Keith J. Riesberg as the new city manager, the Rio Rancho Observer reports.
  • The Grants city manager, meanwhile, is retiring after 24 years on the job.
  • Is the Las Vegas city manager battle between the mayor and city council over after a four and a half hour executive session?The City Council shot down the $30,000 raise that the mayor had proposed for City Manager Timothy Dodge but did agree late Wednesday to boost his pay by $15,000.
  • A uniquely New Mexico tradition: Pilgrims setting out for Chimayo. Why there isn't some New Yorker-style 5,000 word essay on this is a mystery to me.
  • What's the most-read FBI memo? One on the Roswell UFO crash in 1950. The truth is out there, folks.
  • The AP reports on a new law that would expand mental health evaluations.
  • Interesting from the Ruidoso News on a proposed juvenile detention center. It would actually be a reestablishment of a juvenile detention center.
    In a notice issued Thursday, the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) announced a scheduled a community town hall meeting "to discuss the progression of the Fort Stanton detention facility."

    In addition, the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solution's job posting website includes openings for full-time general correctional officer specialists. A partial job description stated CYFD is recruiting for the correctional officers to provide maintenance, repairs and improvements for the Fort Stanton facility.
  • The New Mexico Consortium added 20 jobs thanks to a grant from Los Alamos County.
  • Carlsbad is hoping to preserve some buildings used during World War II bomb training.
  • exploring the viability of algae biofuel from wastewater.

 

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