Morning Word: Big Weekend News Roundup
Small businesses oppose PNM's rate increase requestMorning WordMonday, December 22, 2014
It's Monday, December 22.
PNM is facing opposition to its proposed electric rate price increase from small businesses.
Some business groups representing entrepreneurs like Paternoster are expected to fight PNM’s rate request at the PRC. So are consumer advocacy groups, environmentalists and clean energy advocates, all of whom are concerned about not just the size of PNM’s rate proposal, but the way the utility proposes to allocate more of the increase to residential and small business consumersEnvironmentalists question some of PNM’s cost recovery estimates for installing new pollution controls at the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station
The drought has forced New Mexico pecan farmers to use harmful groundwater.
The Elephant Butte Irrigation District, which waters 78,000 acres in Dona Ana County, was only able to give farmers seven inches of their full, three-foot allotments for each acre this year.
Experts say water use laws in New Mexico and Texas have discouraged conservation. In both states, surface water rights holder pay for water distribution whether they use it or not.
At least the state’s farmers and drought watchers got some good news last week. The Climate Prediction Center produced a map showing between January and March New Mexico will be wetter than average.
Home builders in Santa Fe are counting on President Barack Obama’s immigration orders to help stabilize their workforce.
For some trades, such as roofing, stucco, concrete and plastering, the percentage of immigrant workers is even higher, between 90 percent and 100 percent of the local construction
New Mexico farmers could also see a boost in their exports as the country reestablishes ties with Cuba.
Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, is proposing legislation to fix the state’s campaign finance laws. It would prohibit publicly financed candidates, like those running for the Public Regulation Commission, from spending public funds if they’re unopposed or paying themselves with state money to manage their own campaigns.
Senate Bill 58 also addresses the glitch in matching funds, which Wirth says is needed because of a 2011 court decision striking down a part of the law and this year’s misuse of the system by candidates for the PRC.Wirth’s bill, according to Steve Terrell, would block candidates from contributing their public funds to other candidates or spending the money in support or opposition of ballot initiatives or paying any fines levied on their campaigns by a court or the Secretary of State’s office.
Emily Kaltenbach, the director of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico, told Reporter Phaedra Haywood the New Mexico Department of Health’s revised new cannabis program rule proposals are better, but she still has concerns about patient privacy and safe access for rural patients.
Meanwhile, two of Colorado’s neighbors want the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the state’s laws legalizing recreational marijuana. New Mexico isn’t one of them yet.
We missed this on Friday, but it looks like New Mexico Attorney General-elect Hector Baldares is cleaning house before he’s sworn in. Balderas’ transition team sent about three dozen AG employees letters thanking them for their public service and advising them their services will not be needed in the New Year.
Outgoing New Mexico Attorney General Gary King’s partnership with a private attorney who persuaded him to hire her to sue a national nursing home was the subject of a big New York Times story.
The partnership is part of a flourishing industry that pairs plaintiffs’ lawyers with state attorneys general to sue companies, a collaboration that has set off a furious competition between trial lawyers and corporate lobbyists to influence these officials.It’s also a way for lawyers to collect big fees for their firms.
Fred Harris, a former US Senator, National Chair of the Democratic Party, 1976 presidential candidate and professor emeritus of political science at the University of New Mexico, suggest the country’s biggest challenge is income equality.
A Federal Reserve Bulletin reported that the wealth gains in America since 1989 all went to the top 3%, while the next 7% of Americans only stayed even, and the bottom 90% of Americans experienced a steady decline in what little wealth they had.Populism s a topic Harris has agitated about since the 1960s. The historic black and white news photos on this post are also worth checking looking at this morning.
New census data on income and poverty in U.S. counties shows just how slow the recovery has been.
We were invited to attend outgoing State Treasurer James Lewis’ retirement party on Saturday. After decades of public service Lewis is preparing for a big transition.
Lewis will hand over the Treasurer's Office to Tim Eichenberg January first. Lewis said Eichenberg will face several challenges, including reducing the office's 70 percent turnover rate. Several speakers encouraged Lewis to consider coming out of retirement in four years to run for governor.
Speaking of food. Everything really is better with green chile. Now, a Las Cruces school middle school teacher’s song about the best “yummy” vegetable could become the official children’s song in New Mexico.
Friends of former state Philip R. “Bob” Grant who died earlier this month after building a reputation as an oil and gas expert in the 1970s.
Grant, as a lawmaker, contended that greater shares of the state’s severance tax royalties should be set aside with strict rules limiting lawmakers’ options to tap into the account as a rainy day fund.
A former member of the UNM swim team, Alo worked in Wilson’s office from 2002-2007 before taking an assignment with the International Republican Institute in Washington. He dived into international affairs with zeal, immersing himself in the culture and politics of Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Tunisia and Thailand. In these often tumultuous locales, he taught local leaders the nuts and bolts of good government and democracy, always advocating a greater role for women.
Dan Boyd, who covers the New Mexico Legislature for the Albuquerque Journal, grabbed an interview with Sen. Michael Sanchez, D-Belen. The upper chamber’s leader says he plans to work “fairly” with the new Republican controlled House.
Sanchez also said he’s hopeful the Senate steers clear of “blasting” bills out of committee, a procedural maneuver that has been used in recent years in the House – but not in the Senate – to dislodge stalled legislation and advance it for a floor vote.Freshman Sen. Jacob Candelaria told Boyd he thinks lawmakers will reach bipartisan agreements on some economic development measures.
Lawmakers will also have to deal with contentious Indian gaming compacts.
Many of the tribes object to the state’s share of winnings — which last year totaled over $68 million — and its measure of control over casino operations.The state in turn has sued tribes for nonpayment.
Not sure how this happened, but corrections officers found an unloaded gun inside a secure area at the Bernalillo County Metro Detention Center.
To boost school attendance, Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, is planning to introduce a bill that would the revoke or block the driver’s licenses of habitually truant teens.
With this bill, the juvenile probation office would also be notified if those absences rack up. That way, they can look into whether or not a child may be being neglected.Similar measures have died in Santa Fe the last two years.
The public still has one more chance to offer a federal judge their opinion on a Albuquerque Police Department reform agreement, including the cops themselves. They say provisions in the settlement violate their collective bargaining agreement.
With an estimated 28,000 fans in attendance, it looks like it was a good year for the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. It was also a good boost to hotel and restaurant sales.
Political blogger Joe Monahan has put together a funny bipartisan Christmas video featuring Gov. Susana Martinez, Mayor Richard Berry, Attorney General-elect Hector Balderas and others wearing Mariachi costumes and strumming guitars as they sing one of our holiday favorites “Feliz Navidad”.