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New Mexico Telegram » Morning Word » Morning Word, 02-18-13

Morning Word, 02-18-13

The legislature is past the midpoint and on its way towards the homestretch.

No, I don’t know much about horse racing. So my horse racing metaphors are probably not entirely accurate.

But one thing that is accurate — budget discussions will start to take center stage. And other controversial issues making their way, slowly, though the legislature.

This week, there will be moves on the film tax credit incentives and more. So keep your eyes open — and there are always those random flash points that don’t seem to be coming until they arrive. And no one know when they will happen — not even legislatures. So look for it.

On to the Word:

  • The New Mexico Telegram fundraiser has nearly reached its halfway goal. If you have not donated yet, please do so — it will help keep the coverage of the New Mexico legislature going on until the end of the session.
  • A staunchly conservative Albuquerque restaurant owner admits he is breaking the law and not paying his employees the new minimum wage according to KOB.

    In January, Albuquerque Business First reported:

    Assistant Albuquerque City Attorney Greg Wheeler said the law is “employee enforced,” meaning workers can file suit against an employer for not paying the minimum wage.
    “At this point we have decided to not get involved in any civil private matters. Employees can double the amount they are owed, plus attorneys fees, and we are assuming that there are lots of private attorneys that are willing to take on these cases,” Wheeler said.

  • The Santa Fe New Mexican covers a story about the state Senate not working with the LGBT community. Republicans were opposed to a memorial that would declare Feb. 13 “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Day.
    Republican Whip Bill Payne of Albuquerque told me right away that he was the one who went to Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez of Belen and asked that there be no hearing on SM 39. “It would have created a big floor fight,” he said. Another Republican senator was ready to introduce a “Traditional Family Day” memorial in retaliation, Payne said.

    No Republican actually threatened to shut down the Senate, Payne said. But he made the point that encouraging politically charged memorials could open the door to memorials for a “Right to Life Day,” a “Pro-Choice Day,” on down the line.

  • The Albuquerque Journal reports:
    On Feb. 11, the Legislative Finance Committee projected that general fund taxes and royalties from oil and gas will drop from $1.052 billion in fiscal year 2012 to $957 million in the current fiscal year, which began last July.

    That’s because the average price New Mexico earns for dry and liquid natural gas combined is expected to fall from about $5 per 1,000 cubic feet or Mcf last year to $4.50 per Mcf in FY 2013, while the average price for oil is projected to drop from $89.64 per barrel to $86.50 this year.

  • U.S. Sen Martin Heinrich addressed sequestration in his address to the New Mexico state legislature.
  • Coco has been covering the water issue in the legislature. Her latest.
  • Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, has an idea to pipe water from the Gila River to the Rio Grande.
    But Smith, D-Deming, admits the proposal is more of a “message bill” than anything — at least at this point.

    And the message is aimed at four counties in the southwestern corner that he says have been slow to act in developing a plan for 14,000 acre-feet of new water rights that were handed down in a 2004 federal river settlement.

  • Could legislation in the New Mexico legislature mean more taxis in New Mexico? The Santa Fe Reporter takes a look.
  • The Media Economy Review:
    A bill that would allot $50,000 to study New Mexico’s film incentives was held over in the House Taxation & Revenue Committee on Feb. 15.

  • The Las Vegas Optic:
    The San Miguel County Commission voted unanimously last week to support legislation pending in the house that would give voters in each county the option of increasing the sin tax on booze. Money generated from the tax would be earmarked for DWI and substance abuse prevention efforts.

  • Veteran Albuquerque newsman Dick Knipfing looks at the legislature and at some of the “Major Movement on Major Measure” of legislation.
  • And the important news: Milan Simonich says the state Senate is a favorite to win the annual House vs. Senate basketball game.
    The House lost its top player, Bill O’Neill, to the senators. O’Neill, who played a little Ivy League football at Cornell in the 1970s, gave up his House seat to run for the Senate.

    With O’Neill and Sen. Howie Morales, the Senate club now has the two best players in the Legislature.

    I’m starting to think that the legislature may be able to beat the media in a legislature vs media game.

  • A former employee of the Democratic Party of New Mexico and her boyfriend were charged with embezzlement for stealing $2,000 from the state party.
  • The Las Cruces Sun-News looks at the presidential visits to the city.
    On the morning of Oct. 16, 1909, President William Howard Taft became the first sitting president to visit Las Cruces, and the last until Bill Clinton in 1996.

  • The U.S. Senators from New Mexico don’t like the idea that the United States Postal Service will be stopping Saturday service and want to look at alternatives.
  • A lot of money going into homes in Shiprock may never be finished after a large chunk of money was put into them.
  • Joline Gutierrez Krueger says the Albuquerque metro court should drop its ban on cell phones, calling it antiquated.
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  • Dog the Bounty Hunter was in Clovis and he got a big reception. New Mexico Telegram looked at other celebrities who went to the New Mexico Legislature in recent years.
  • An Albuquerque Journal investigative report:
    The state Department of Corrections plans to start moving the first of up to nearly 300 violent or predatory sex offenders to a privately run detention facility in Otero County next month — despite objections from lawmakers.

    Corrections officials say the move will save money and provide better treatment options for sex offenders “who will be released” at some point.

    But the plan is drawing fire from key legislators, who question the wisdom of putting 288 predatory sex offenders in what they described as a “county jail.”

    >Former Albuquerque mayor Jim Baca:
    The Albuquerque Journal today editorialized against Mayoral runoff elections saying they cost to much. Why don’t they just say the don’t want it because their editor knows they only way to elect right wing crazy nut jobs is to not have run off elections. This newspaper editorial page is turning into a really bizarre opinion purveyor.

  • The Star Center in Rio Rancho has been a money pit for Rio Rancho. Now the city is looking at refinancing the loans on the Star Center, the Rio Rancho Observer reports.

Written by

Matthew Reichbach has blogged about New Mexico politics since 2006. Matthew was a co-founder of New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and part of the original hirings at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation. In addition to politics, Matthew is an avid sports fan, especially of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and TV fan.

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2 Responses to "Morning Word, 02-18-13"

  1. Biff says:

    Oh, my. The legislative session will be finished and you will still be nickeling and diming and begging people for money. Give it up. Or just run for the legislature. Then you could get a per diem and end your panhandling.

  2. Biff, that’s incredibly unkind. Matt is covering the legislative session on a shoestring, and he’s not being paid for his reportage. Don’t criticize the man for trying to make a living in tough times.