You can read the New Mexico Telegram recap here, but a quick recap: The President followed up his inaugural address that was filled with catnip for liberal and progressive Democrats with a fairly rousing State of the Union. The biggest new proposal that he introduced was the call to raise the minimum wage — something that could have echoes in the New Mexico state legislature.
Obama said he wants the minimum wage to be $9.00 per hour — that is $1.75 per hour more than the current minimum wage and $1.50 more than the minimum wage in New Mexico.
Perhaps more importantly for the prospects of a minimum wage increase in New Mexico, it is $1.00 per hour more than what is being proposed in New Mexico.
Republicans who oppose any additional gun control legislation have argued that New Mexico should wait until the federal government acts before New Mexico decides what to do. A similar argument may come from opponents of the minimum wage increase.
On to the Word:
- The February 13 edition of the Santa Fe New Mexican’s legislative roundup is online.
- The lawmakers and governor’s office differ on the revenue outlook.
The Department of Finance and Administration reported Monday there’s no reason to change the most recent revenue forecast calling for the state to have about $283 million available for budget increases and to offset any tax cuts in the next fiscal year.
However, legislative staff has raised questions about the state’s financial outlook and the Senate Finance Committee plans to make its budget decisions using estimates that revenue will be $24 million lower next year and $41 million lower in the current fiscal year.
- John Fleck again made the trip to the foreign country that is the Roundhouse to write about a water bill.
Can New Mexico’s $100 million solution to drought problems on the Pecos River provide the model for the much larger problems on the lower Rio Grande?
And don’t worry John, we all get lost. But Steve Terrell has a hint to get your bearings, at least on the 3rd floor.
- The Senate introduced a slate of water legislation according to the Santa Fe New Mexican — something that has been described as a “sleeper” issue in New Mexico.
- The Associated Press reports on the same same water legislation.
- A piece of legislation would bar private firms from owning schools that get public funds. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports:
The bill clarifies that the Public Education Department, as well as school districts and charter schools, cannot contract with private entities to run a public school or any of its programs.
Hammond charged that private educational institutions are finding ways to break through the system in a “Trojan horse” manner. “This bill says no more privatization Trojan horses in New Mexico,” he said.
- The Santa Fe Reporter reports on a bill expanding what is a brothel in New Mexico to include websites.
- Even as legislators look to make what he did illegal, F. Chris Garcia still hopes to be allowed back on the University of New Mexico campus.
Garcia, who taught political science and held top administrative positions, made headlines in June 2011 when he was arrested and when a police search of his UNM office turned up numerous sex toys, pornographic videos and sex books. He now needs written approval and must be escorted when he is on university grounds.
- Six New Mexican mayors signed onto a letter asking Congress to pass an assault weapons ban.
- Legislation to create a health insurance exchange passed its first committee.
- A city councilor in Santa Fe is looking at labeling genetically modified organisms even though the state Senate killed a bill that would do the same thing statewide.
- Capitol Report New Mexico reports on a House Democrat who wants to get the third-grade retention bill passed.
- The trial in a Taos County housing embezzlement case has been postponed.
- A “tax reboot” bill passed committee but has a long, long way to go.
- The drivers license compromise bill was introduced on Tuesday, KOB reports:
Democratic Sen. John Arthur Smith of Deming cooked up the compromise, along with Sen. Stuart Ingle of Portales, leader of the Senate Republicans.
“It’s a start, and the thing of it is we’ve got plenty of time.” Ingle said. “We’ve got another month to go before we get out of here. We’ve got time to pass this bill and we need to do it. We need to get the passport situation taken care of, so I think this bill can do that.”
- Rio Rancho city councilors will vote on an application for a loan to buy water rights.
- The House voted to oppose the listing of the lesser prairie chicken as threatened after a floor debate.
Ezzell, right, said jobs would be lost in southeastern New Mexico and the state’s overall economy would be damaged if the prairie chicken received federal protection.
Invoking the Endangered Species Act would stop voluntary efforts by private landowners to coexist with the bird, Ezzell said.
The debate included a representative saying if someone was observing his mating rituals, he would be disturbed, debate over who was the chair of the House redhead-caucus, criticism of U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce and even a Representative clucking like a hen and crowing like a rooster. Sometimes the debate on the floor is weird.
- The Farmington Daily-Times reports on a bill by Sen. Steven Neville, R-Aztec, related to water tanks.
Senate Bill 93 — titled “City Water Storage Tank Contractors” — allows communities to hire a contractor to do the work over multiple years. This lowers maintenance costs for cities by spreading out payments over the course of the contract, much like making car payments.
- A House bill would require campaign finance reporting in larger school district elections, New Mexico Capitol Report says.
- A water policy committee looked forward to a dry year.
Brian Daly, a district manager for city water provider EPCOR Water, noted that preliminary tests indicate EPCOR will be able to pump 10.4 million gallons of water per day. That’s down from 11.3 million gallons last year, and Daly said the number could drop more when farming and irrigation pick back up.
- The drought in the Ruidoso area is still going on.
Combined, 2011 and 2012 were the driest and warmest two-year period in state history, noted Wayne Sleep, a snow survey hydrologic technician with the NRCS in New Mexico.
“The last two years were actually warmer and drier that the first couple of years of the 1950s drought,” Sleep said. “The thing in the 50s that really made that notable was the length of time that it lasted. It went on for over four years. The timing now is going to be what drives this one in relation to the 50s.”
- A company that supplies power to 12 New Mexico cooperatives has filed a federal complaint against the Public Regulation Commission for turning down a rate increase.
- Bernalillo County commissioners approved $3.7 million in tax breaks for a developer.
- Kevin Wilson at the Clovis News Journal writes about the death of filibuster reform, “The lesson that should be learned is that gentleman’s agreements only work when everybody involved agrees to be a gentleman.”
- The Alamogordo city commission approved a tax rebate to help build a new grocery store.
Acting Department of Transportation Secretary Tom Church said his department’s funds are limited in the number of new roads it can build or fix. He apologized to the delegation for the errors made in the $20 million reconstruction of Canal Street that was completed in 2011.
“We are embarrassed the way we did things,” Church said. “We can’t afford to fix everything, but are responsible financially for some of it.”
At issue are curbs that were not built according to Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Wheelchair-bounds residents cannot cross the road at the intersections.
- Las Vegas is going to look at revamping its alcohol ordinances to attract a minor league baseball team:
The city is moving forward with plans to allow beer to be served at Rodriguez Park complex during professional baseball games, carrying through with one of the prerequisites for getting the Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs to field a team in Las Vegas.