Thursday, February 08, 2007
So, starting today, this blog will merely be an archive for the content we have already written. The new blog will be at NMFBIHOP.com. Why the move? Well, go and read the welcome post on the new blog for the details.
Thank you for reading this blog, and making this upgrade possible. I hope you will continue to read the blog; and as you will see, you can not only read, but participate in the blogging itself.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
The Albuquerque Journal mentioned the meet-up.
O'Connell helped establish Tuesday as a Richardson "meet-up day" for the computer-centered groups to host small community meetings promoting Richardson's bid.No comment on whether I blog in my pajamas or not.
O'Connell and fellow blogger Ken Camp will have their meet-up at Mud Bay Coffee in Olympia, Wash. O'Connell said he expected that two dozen or so other Richardson meet-ups will be taking place in other states, and he's hoping they'll become a monthly happening.
"We're stereotyped as people in pajamas who sit around and blog endlessly about politics," Camp said. But, he added, "The goal is to spur people into action to support a particular candidate or cause. It will be face-to-face, and we've encouraged our friends to reach out to their local Democratic parties."
A major organizing tool for the day was Zanby.com, where people from around the nation have been making Colorado for Bill Richardson and New York for Bill Richardson groups since as early as June of 2006. There are currently 61 such groups at the site.
Heath Haussamen wrote of the different responses around the nation to the Meet-Up day.
In Boston, more than 100 people turned out at an event organized by Jeff Gulko, a former Richardson staffer in the U.S. Department of Energy. In Minneapolis, Minn., a group also had high turnout.Over at America for Richardson, you can read about the success of the Minnesota Meet Up.
But in Olympia Washington, despite an article in the local newspaper promoting the event, only four people showed, said organizer Ken Camp.
Haussamen also wrote about a conference call that Richardson gave to supporters, which I also listened in on. He started with a brief speech, talking about why he should be President, and what his supporters could do to help.
The major themes on the conference call were that he is experienced, but an underdog who would be using a positive, grass-roots campaign. He also spent time discussing global warming, and, of course, his experience. "A lot of candidates talk about doing it," Richardson said, "we've actually done it." He also came out strongly against the war in Iraq, with little wiggle room.
The Q&A session was marred by one ranting questioner, who was yelling into the phone. I couldn't understand much of what he said, but Heath Haussamen has a little better hearing (or a better phone connection) than me:
And, just as I was able to get my hands on the phone number and code to listen in on the conference call, so was a man from Nevada who doesn't want Richardson to be elected president.I have no idea what that was about. I thought he said something about cockfighting, but if he is from Nevada, I'm guessing that's not true.
The man didn't identify himself by name, but claimed he was a military veteran and said Richardson "stole my dog tags."
So the first Bill Richardson Meet-Up day has come and passed. The next is scheduled for March 6, go to America for Richardson for more details, or for New Mexicans, Liberal Truth Sayer has created the New Mexico for Richardson blog.
But let's look back at yesterday and what DID happen.
Ethics packages are in the news, and the quote that is being repeated around the state is John Grubesic (D-Santa Fe) saying that making the Legislature talk about ethics reform is akin to "asking us to design our own noose before we stick our heads into it."
House Bill 818 has cleared the House Voters and Elections Committee. This bill "would extend a voluntary public campaign funding system to all statewide offices," and the voting was yet another party-line vote.
The same committee is scheduled Thursday to consider legislation that would establish expense accounts for legislators amounting to about $16,000 a year (HB 820) and a bill to limit campaign contributions (HB 821).Ethics packages are finally making their way through the Roundhouse, and it is long overdue. Let's just hope these ethics bills actually have teeth and stop the unethical behavior that has been a seemingly large part of our politics lately.
The ethics package also includes bills to create a state Ethics Commission with subpoena power; limit gifts to public officials; and set more restrictions on state officials and their family members doing contract work for the state. Identical bills have been introduced in the Senate.
The state GOP is attempting to control what they call uncontrolled spending.
State spending should be reined in, with increases pegged only to population growth and inflation, Republicans in the Legislature said Tuesday.Democrats in the Roundhouse are against this, so it has little chance for success. It would cut into new programs, and stop any progress towards making New Mexico a top-state; one reason New Mexico is near the bottom in many rankings is because our government doesn't have the money to put towards education and health care. While spending should be controlled, this is probably not the best way to do it.
Under the GOP proposal, if the state took in more money than the expenditure limit, 60 percent of the excess would be put into the severance tax permanent fund and 40 percent would be returned to taxpayers.
Two very popular bills -- if expensive -- are now working their way through the Legislature. These are bills proposing to cut taxes on retired military personnel. House Bill 368 would cut taxes on retired military personnel who are still working; about 13,000 out of the 22,000 in the state. A competing measure in the Senate (Bill 43), would exempt all military retiree pay from income taxes. It could be challenged in the courts, however.
House Bill 207 would exempt all active duty military personnel from their income taxes completely. This would help bring military here -- and would show them how much we appreciate their sacrifices.
The GOP has a new Director of Communications. Kate Nash says Charlotte Balcomb Lane, a former Albuquerque Journal reporter is joining the New Mexico GOP. Our little version of Tony Snow to the White House? Political Director Chris Atencio commented on Lane in a press release
"Lane brings a lot of journalistic experience and credibility to the position," Atencio said in announcing the position. "She is a New Mexico native with a background in Republican politics and a nose for news."
Stuff from the Santa Fe New Mexican's Legislative Roundup:
A statewide ban on talking on the cell phone while driving was bumped for the second time. House Bill 241 is looking less and less like it will become law. Sure there are 37 days left for the bill, but it does not show much enthusiasm for the bill in the House Transportation and Public Works Committee. It would not even allow hands-free devices, unlike the Santa Fe bill and the Albuquerque bill that is headed to Mayor Martin Chavez' desk.
The Senate Public Affairs Committee unanimously supported Senate Bill 397, a bill which would require children under 18 to wear helmets while riding bikes, skateboarding, etc. It would carry a fine of $10 for the parents. I have a feeling that $10 fine would work its way back to the children from the parents, so this would probably be effective. And helmets are important -- ask anyone who has had a serious crash on a bicycle.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
For those of you with high speed, here is the video.
They broached many subjects, from the Wen Ho Lee case to the role of his wife, Barbara. This is a good interview, and Richardson showed again that he is very good in the media.
Over in the House, House Bill 15 passed in the full chamber by a 41-25 vote. The bill requires insurers to offer health coverage for domestic partners if requested by the parties involved.
But not all is good for health coverage for same-sex couples. Three lesbian couples has sued the state for health coverage. The state currently pays for health coverage for same-sex couples, but not once the worker retires. Meanwhile, for married couples, the health coverage for the spouse continues on after retirement or death.
And back to the crazy case of cockfighting. Steve Terrell writes in the Santa Fe New Mexican of another hurdle being leapt by the proposed ban. KUNM said in their news updates last night that supporters of cockfighting are growing increasingly resigned to the fact that cockfighting will not be legal in New Mexico after this year's session.
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the ban on to the full house by a 7-3 margin. They did, however, amend the bill.
Before voting on the bill, the committee added an amendment making a first offense a misdemeanor for those who "cause, sponsor, arrange, hold, or participate" in a cockfight "for monetary gain or entertainment."In 33 of the 48 states where cockfighting is illegal (only New Mexico and Louisiana still allow the practice), it is a felony for the first offense. I just cannot wait until the House votes on this, and the governor signs it into law. Not only because of the cruelty towards animals, but also so we won't have to read about it daily.
Second and subsequent offenses would be considered fourth-degree felonies. Under state law, misdemeanors carry a maximum jail sentence of 364 days. Those convicted of a fourth-degree felony, the least-severe felony category, can serve as much as 18 months in prison.
The Senate Reliable Eyewitness Identification Act narrowly passed the Senate Monday, 22-20. The Act would change laws for identifying accused criminals in a police lineup. Again, the New Mexican:
Under the bill, an eyewitness would be required to provide a description of a suspect before viewing a lineup, and there would have to be at least six people in a live lineup and at least 10 photos in a photographic one.Attorney General Gary King came out against the law initially, but said he will look at it again. Other attorneys are against the law as well.
Senators on Monday approved eight amendments to the bill, including one allowing verbal as well as written descriptions of suspects before viewing a lineup. The Senate also lengthened the amount of time eyewitnesses could view a suspect outside of a lineup from one hour to three hours after the eyewitness saw the suspect.
Lemuel Martinez, district attorney for the 13th Judicial District, which includes Cibola, Sandoval and Valencia counties, said it's easier for witnesses to identify suspects under a simultaneous lineup, and he blasted the bill after the vote.Proponents of the bill argue that it will help guard against false accusations.
"It means more criminals will go free, and more people will be falsely identified," Martinez said.
One state Senator is leadign the charge against red light cameras. Republican State Senator William Payne called the cameras "a guise for making money for the city of Albuquerque". Albuquerque mayor Martin Chavez disputes the notion -- a popular one among the citizens of Albuquerque.
All proceeds from the cameras, which automatically generate citations for speeding and running red lights, go to support the maintenance and expansion of the program, Chavez said.Payne wants yellow flashing lights on the cameras to warn drivers of a red light camera in operation at that intersection. Chavez says these are distracting. Personally, I don't have a problem with the red light cameras. The way the fines are given is troubling, but it is a tool for stopping people breaking the law -- a potentially dangerous law. Of course, I've never been caught by one of the cameras.
The only exception, he said, was a $250,000 outlay last year to support prosecution of methamphetamine production and distribution.
"These cameras are not a cash cow for the city," Chavez said. "I've tried everything to cut down on speeding and red-light violations, and this program is the first thing that has worked."
Medical marijuana took another step towards becoming a reality in New Mexico, passing the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 7-3 margin. The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act would allow marijuana for the treatment of certain conditions, like AIDS and cancer. It will go in front of the full Senate, where it has passed in the past. Former Governor Gary Johnson should be happy about this one.
The funeral protest ban passed the House Judiciary Committee, and will now go in front of the full House.
What did I miss?
John Fleck at an ABQJournal blog had this response:
Scientists working on this question say one of the important things to understand is the distinction between weather and climate. Weather fluctuates widely over days, months, and even years. Climate is the long term average. In the short run, we will always have unusually cold spells and unusually warm spells. Climate change involves the long term patterns. Here in New Mexico, we've had substantially more unusually warm spells over the last decade than unusually cold spells. We've also had substantially more unusually dry spells than unusually wet spells. It's the sum total of all of those that make up the climate, not any one brief period.In other words, just because it is cold today or this month in Albuquerque does not mean global warming does not exist.
So just as it would be wrong to say that the winter of 2005-2006 was proof of global warming because of how warm it was in North America (it was bitter cold that winter in Europe), it would be wrong to point to our recent cold spell and say it's proof that global warming is not happening. What the scientists do is study the long term averages, which provide the evidence to support their assertions about global climate change.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Bu, apparently, Richardson was well-received. From the Hotline's stats, Richardson received the most standing ovations of any candidate over the two days of speeches. Granted, he also did speak for 18 minutes, going a little bit over the seven minute time limit. But it's all right, Dodd did (sorry, can't resist the word play) Richardson two better, by speaking for 20 minutes.
Here's the Hotline blog's take on Richardson's speech:
Maybe playing to the crowd too much isn't that bad a gaffe, since I have heard a criticism of Richardson is his lack of charisma while giving speeches. That many of those criticizing Richardson then admit to not having heard Richardson give many speeches (if any) is beyond the point -- the thought is that Richardson gives boring speeches, so it becomes conventional wisdom (the Wikiality effect, if you will).
Standing Ovations: 7
Introduced by: DNC Finance Chair Phil Murphy
Subtle Theme: Be positive and my resume rocks.
Overt Theme: I’m “calling on all other candidates to agree to run only positive campaigns.” I “call on the Democratic National Committee to pass a resolution” calling for clean campaigns. We need a president who “brokered international agreements … served as a governor, balanced budgets … turned an economy around.” And I went to Darfur.
Bragging: In New Mexico, we’ve created jobs, many in the high tech industry and we “didn’t abandon union families along the way.” “One of the first things I did as governor was re-instate collective bargaining for employees.” “Rather than using tax cuts to reward the wealthy, I used them to put people to work.” “The first thing we did was give teachers a raise and we did it every four years.” “Expanded health insurance -- we insure every child under the age of five.” “My state has become the clean energy state.” “We need someone who can win in every region in the country.” “As someone who’s served in Congress 14 years …”
Playing to the Crowd: Intro written by the wife of journalist Paul Salopek, the reporter Richardson rescued from the Sudan. Richardson, referring to the time limits on the speeches - “I don’t need seven minutes – I can do it in four words – elect a Democratic President.” Giving the nod to the other ‘08ers: we’re “better off with any of them serving in the White House – as my vice president.”
Cliches: “Don’t tear each other down,” “We believe in offering them a hand and help them up.” “I’m tired of hearing the Democrats don’t stand for anything – we do.”
Discordant Note: Played to the crowd so much he had to shout over applause.
Howard Dean Suck Up: “I just told Gov. Dean I’m almost finished and he said ‘Yeah right.’” “By the way Howard Dean was right about rebuilding our party in 50 states.”
Self-deprecation: “I know that rap on governors – that we don’t know anything about foreign policy. Maybe you can say that about certain governors from Texas but not this governor.”
Blooper: Speech time limit was seven minutes (as Howard Dean pointed out at the beginning of the morning). Richardson spoke about 18 minutes.
Since newspaper accounts of Richardson's speech seem to be, well, nonexistent at this point, I went to the blogs.
I'll start out at the top of the heap, so to speak. From MyDD.
Bill Richardson: "Stay lose, we gotta year to go", says Richardson regarding his stand in the polls. Richardson's intro is "lean on me" by Bill Withers [the hip hop remix], and closes with some cha-cha music. He looks great-- Richardson might be getting tips from Huckabee. He is one of two that I believe can break out of the second tier. Richardson has a big opening in Nevada, if he is able to mobilize Latino voters to show up. If he does, in a week when it's the only contest and there's not a competing Republican contest for media attention, he's gonna pop onto the radar in a very big way. Then, maybe Florida? Don't count out union support for Richardson either, as he's got a record in New Mexico that's very union-friendly. Teachers too, Richardson came with NM at 47th in pay and is now in the 20's-- AFT. NM's enacted equality legislation, enacted the Kyoto standards, it's impressive. I really like Governor's as Presidential candidates, they have accomplishments they can point to, and Richardson has foreign experience as well. He was very well recieved by this audience, with multiple standing ovations, and Richardson probably moved up a few nothes in their views. Richardson believes in a "reconciliation" effort in Iraq, and calls for a deadline by the end of this year for the US to be out of Iraq.
Here's the take of Adam Lang, from the College Democrats at the University of Wisconsin Madison:
I think, and the consensus in the room I'm sitting in agrees, that Richardson did the best job of putting out a solid plan for America with details where details were due while at the same time conveying a feel good message.From a Burnt Orange Report diarist.
Full disclaimer: I took home a Bill Richardson rally sign and put a Bill Richardson bumper sticker on my laptop. I was sold on him today.
Remember how Bill Clinton did better in NH than expected and the other candidates did worse than expected; propelling him forward. Richardson is poised to do the same. He sure as hell did it this weekend.That diarist says he believes Richardson will either be a spoiler to a candidate (ala Clark was to Edwards in '04) or the dark horse candidate. Richardson is looking to get more editorials calling him the dark horse than just an also-ran, spoiler candidate.
I had medium expectations of him and he blew me away. He was funny and smart and at-ease. And Presidential. He gave the best speech of the weekend when handicapping for the audience and purpose of the speech.
DemNotes (written by Colorado State Party First Vice Chair Dan Slater) speaks about the acceptance of those at the event.
I think the best example of the power of Richardson’s speech can best be seen by what we saw in the "meet and greet" rooms after the session this morning. Each candidate has a small conference room where DNC Members can come and meet the candidate personally and ask questions. Governor Richardson was the only candidate besides Hillary Clinton to need an "overflow room" for DNC Members to wait because of the crowd in the main conference room assigned to him. (In fairness, Senator Obama was unable to attend his "meet and greet," instead holding an event the night before that was heavily attended, and Senator Edwards was not in his room for his meet and greet, sending Elizabeth Edwards instead.)From what you can see here, the response to Richardson was overwhelmingly positive. I don't think I saw anything negative about Richardson's DNC speech. Perhaps it will help with Richardson's fundraising (which will be his major problem in his Presidential run).
Whatever happens, it looks like Richardson wowed the crowd and gained some converts in DC.
Friday was American-Indian Day at the Roundhouse. And some laws affecting the Navajo Nation were the big movers and shakers of the day. One was the issue of tax breaks for the controversial power plant. It was tabled earlier this week, but the Navajo Nation elite wants it back on the table.
"We need that thing," Navajo Nation Vice President Ben Shelly told legislators. "We need to un-table that."Health care was also a big issue for Native Americans on Friday.
Jemez Pueblo Gov. Raymond Gachupin, chairman of the Ten Southern Pueblos Council, asked lawmakers to back legislation that would provide $10 million to shore up health-care services and develop plans for improved delivery of health care to Indians.New Mexico is a unique state, with many different ethnic groups, including a sizable American Indian bloc. We have to remember not to let them fall by the wayside.
Sponsored by House Speaker Ben Luján, D-Nambé, the measure also would establish a Native American Health Council and create a deputy secretary of Native American health in the state Health Department.
It looks like those ethics bills that were promised are finally starting to drop. They should be working their way through committee soon. Some are basic, such as House Bill 820, which "would prohibit legislators from using campaign funds for purposes other than campaigning." Seems like something that should have already been done.
The Senate Minimum Wage bill overwhelmingly passed Friday. The bill would push the minimum wage in the state to $7.50 by 2009. There is a similar bill in the House, pushed by Speaker Lujan. The House proposal would up the minimum wage to $7.50 by 2008. It's unclear which will win approval, though by the Senate vote, it looks like a good bet that one or the other will become law.
The Senate bill would not allow local governments to raise the minimum wage further until 2013. It would also exempt agricultural activities. Republicans criticized the move as purely political, saying Richardson just wanted to beat the federal government to the punch.
And the battle between oil companies and private property owners is heating up. House Bill 827 was introduced by Andy Nuñez from Hatch, NM.
Oil and gas companies would have to notify surface owners at least 30 days before they begin drilling. If the landowner and the company could not reach an agreement for drilling, companies would have to obtain a blanket $25,000 surety bond or a $10,000 bond for each well drilled.Bob Gallagher, President of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association called the New Mexico Oil & Gas Accountability Project, supporters of Nuñez's bill, "wide-eyed obstructionists."
Landowners would be compensated for any damage done by the oil or gas company.
The ignition-interlock tampering bill is now headed to the House floor. House Bill 125 would would say that tampering with an ignition interlock system "may subject the applicant to penalties for driving with a revoked license".
Anything I missed? Anything I got wrong? And look, a whole post without mentioning cockfighting!
Friday, February 02, 2007
Here is the guest list:
Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino. He has gained a lot of attention for co-sponsoring the Impeachment bill this year, but he has also introduced some other great legislation. Included are the Working Family Tax Credit and the Cost of Living Adjustment for Medicaid. It should be interesting to hear the Senator from Albuquerque talk about this year's session.
Also on the show is Eric Mack, who I will admit that I know nothing about. So I'll just quote from the Insight NM site.
Eric Mack is the head producer for the New Mexico News Connection, a radio news service heard throughout the state. His broadcast work has also been heard on many public radio programs worldwide including All Things Considered, Living on Earth, BBC's The World, Justice Talking, National Native News and the Voice of America. As a print reporter, his work has appeared in the National Catholic Reporter, High Country News, the Albuquerque Journal, Business 2.0, Sierra, Alternet and other publications. He lives in Taos with his wife and dog and avoids any restaurant that serves a burger with potato chips instead of fries.In the Notes from the Blogosphere section, Democracy For New Mexico will be discussing local issues. This is one of the local blogs that I read daily. And if you are reading this post right now, you probably already read it as well. Or if you don't, you should.
And Griego will be talking with some APS and CNM board candidates. So tune in, and listen to progressive local talk radio. It's the only time you'll get the chance until next week.
Cockfighting survived what KOAT's Matt Grubs called this a "killing ground" for the ban. The Senate Conservation Committee passed the bill on a 5-3 vote. Kate Nash adds some perspective:
The move is significant because the committee in the past has always rejected the move.Mary Jane Garcia, the Senate Majority Whip and the bill's sponsor, says she has the votes in the Senate. It looks like this is the year the bloodsport dies in New Mexico.
Gay marriage has been a divisive "wedge issue" in the US over the past couple of years. New Mexico is no different, from when the Sandoval County Clerk Victoria Dunlap gained national attention for giving out marriage certificates to same-sex couples, to this year's proposed gay marriage bans.
The two Republican-proposed bills died in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee, on party-line 4-3 votes. From the Santa Fe New Mexican:
House Joint Resolution 2, sponsored by Rep. Gloria Vaughn, R-Alamogordo, would have let state voters decide whether to amend the state constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.The committee voted to table the bills, effectively killing them.
House Bill 395, sponsored by Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell, would have put that definition of marriage in state statute.
On the other side of gay issues, comes House Bill 15, which is headed to the House floor for a vote. Again, the New Mexican:
Under the bill, insurance companies would be required to provide coverage to domestic partners of employees who work or are expected to work an average of at least 20 hours a week over a six-month period if an employer requests such coverage. The bill defines domestic partners as unmarried people who are older than 18, who have lived together for at least a year, are jointly responsible for each other's "common welfare," share financial obligations and are in a "mutually exclusive, committed relationship."I hope this bill passes, it is something that will end one small part of discrimination in the state.
A piece of DWI legislation pushed by the family of Arissa Garcia also died.
Senate Bill 191, introduced by Sen. Joseph Carraro, R-Albuquerque, would prevent gas stations from obtaining liquor licenses and require stations that hold licenses to give them up. Several hundred gas stations in New Mexico have liquor licenses, according to a lobbyist for Giant Industries.I didn't think this would have much of a chance because of the outcry from gas stations that have liquor licenses. For many gas station operators, selling alcohol is a huge profit-maker, much more than gasoline itself.
Gerald Collins, Garcia's great-uncle, said they "received absolutely no support" on the bill.
Medical marijuana is once again on the docket. A bill sponsored by Jerry Ortiz y Pino, a busy man, passed the Senate Public Affairs committee, and is now headed to the Senate floor. Last year, a similar bill passed the Senate, but ran into trouble on the House floor. Ortiz y Pino thinks this is the year that the controversial bill will pass.
A parental notification bill was tabled in the House today. House Bill 239 would have required doctors to tell parents of teenage girls looking for abortions about their daughter's decision. It was another 4-3 party line vote in another hot-button issue. Senate bill 442 is still alive, however.
The Dee Johnson Clean Air Act, House Bill 238, which would effectively end smoking indoor in public areas unanimously passed the House Health and Government Affairs Committee. It is now in the House Business and Industry Committee. The bill would end smoking in restaurants, bars, and all workplaces, and has inspired some lively debate over at Duke City Fix. Personally, I do not see how inhaling smoke of any kind can be anything but bad for my health.
There was oh so-much going on, so for all the things I missed, read the Santa Fe New Mexican Legislative Roundup and the Albuquerque Tribune's Per Diem. And yell at me in the comments for anything you think I should have included.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Media Matters also reported on it.
On the February 1 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning, host Don Imus offered a message to New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM): "Besa mi culo," which loosely translates as "kiss my ass" in Spanish. Imus was talking about his frustration with officials in New Mexico, and particularly in the governor's office, over a project that he described as "renovating a school in ... Ribera, New Mexico, to provide a community center for a devastated part of New Mexico." After calling Richardson "that fat governor," Imus said, "How 'bout if I whip your fat ass, Bill?" before an unidentified voice said "Besa mi culo," which Imus echoed. Later in the program, Imus referred to Richardson as "Gordo," which is Spanish for "fat one."Imus is, of course, a blowhard that is aired locally on 610 The Sports Animal in Albuquerque and surrounding areas. Why he is on the sports channel instead of getting a full compliment of Mike and Mike in the Morning is beyond me. But I digress.
Imus runs Imus Ranch in Ribera, NM.
Its sole purpose is to provide the experience of the great American cowboy to children suffering from cancer or serious blood disorders, and children who've lost brothers and sisters to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).A very laudable cause. But the whole problem comes from that small community in Northern New Mexico.
Imus is apparently mad at Richardson because of a proposed community center in Ribera, headed by Gloria Garcia. Garcia wrote Imus asking for money for the center. Imus gave some money, and suggested she ask Governor Richardson for money. She did so, and Richardson was initially receptive. But, remember, this is all according to Imus, Richardson is now just "jerking Gloria's chain." Richardson says the expense needs to be approved by the Legislature.
Imus just went on insulting Richardson, and his Presidential campaign. "If he wants to run for President, he has to get his act together," Imus said, "And stop being a fat baby about all this." He insulted Richardson's staffers as well. "He doesn't have a ready for prime time staff. I mean, Bill Richardson has no more business running for President with this staff than [co-host] Syd does." He even went after Richardson's wife.
Maybe Imus has a point. But when he hides his point with insults, calling him a "fat sissy", it loses some of its effectiveness. It's reasons like this that I don't take people like Imus seriously.
Then again, he got me to write a whole blog post about it, so I guess he at least has my attention.
"We'll be able to maybe get to two of them," said Rep. Henry "Kiki" Saavedra, an Albuquerque Democrat. "Due to hearings and everything, it's not that easy to get bills passed."So we're aiming for two! That's two more than zero, for those of you non-math majors out there.
So what happened yesterday up in Santa Fe (or down in Santa Fe depending on your location)?
Lydia Lovejoy was appointed to the Senate by Bill Richardson. And not all liberals are happy. Joe Monahan:
Lovejoy is not getting any love, however, from liberals who resent her comments on abortion and homosexuality during her recent presidential run and which were circulated against her on the Net. Here's how the New Times of Phoenix wrote her up:"I''m anti-abortion on an individual basis," she stammered, with more umms and ahhs than The Bird has room to reproduce. "But I know families whose children have gone through abortion . . . but personally I would not tolerate it except when a person doesn't have a choice."Ugh. Are you serious, Lovejoy?
Safe enough answer, despite the Navajo pol's near incoherence. But her remarks on homosexual rights made her sound like some 19th-century eugenicist.
"I feel the same way about that as I feel about abortion," spat Lovejoy. "I know we are all . . . some of our children are born with physical impairments and it's not the baby's fault. That person is special. I feel the same way about sexual orientation."
Questa Senator Carlos Cisneros (D) introduced a bill called the "Health Security Act." KUNM called the bill a possible first step in the direction of universal health care in New Mexico. The bill is different than the plan outlined by Richardson in the State of the State address. But is it necessary?
Never mind that the state already shelled out $310,782 for Mathematica to study three options for expanding health care coverage in New Mexico. Even though the report is due in June, proponents of the Health Security Act — one of the three plans — want lawmakers to appropriate $500,000 for yet another cost analysis on just their model. After Sen. Cisneros introduced SB 720 and SB 721, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, in a hallway interview, said, "It seems like a duplicate of expense for what we've already done."The bill has been assigned to the Judiciary and Finance committees.
A bill that is gaining attention is one that would ban smoking in restaurants statewide. The Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Act passed the House Health and Government Affairs Committee, and will now go to the House Business & Industry Committee. Albuquerque and Santa Fe have similar laws in effect, but this one would affect bars as well.
Arissa Garcia and her family spoke yesterday in favor of DWI legislation. The bill they were speaking in favor of would stiffen penalties for tampering with ignition interlock systems. Garcia was the sole survivor of a car crash caused by a drunk driver who was served drinks on Frontier even though Frontier does not have a liquor license, as is required by New Mexico law.
Are you going through withdrawals from the lack of news about the cockfighting ban in New Mexico? Well, I'm here to help you out. The Albuquerque Tribune takes a look at the history of the efforts to ban cockfighting. Meanwhile, House Minority leader wants to give (don't laugh) fighting cocks a suitable retirement. Read it -- then you can laugh.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that the appropriate state agencies be requested to design and implement a retirement program befitting the majesty of the fighting cocks that includes twice-weekly visits from the very best cage-free hens the state has to offer, one high-definition television for every six cocks and a subscription to ESPN, animal planet and CMT pure country, but not to the food network or FOX news.Maybe Taylor missed his true calling, and should become a comedy writer.
Oh, and competing minimum wage bills were introduced yesterday.
Although Lujan is a close ally of Gov. Bill Richardson, the governor is backing a competing bill sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Ben Altamirano, D-Silver City, that would bump the current state minimum wage of $5.15 to $6.50 on Jan. 1 and to $7.50 in 2009.We'll have to see how this plays out -- and hope the competing measures don't cause legislators to kill the competing one off.
It passed the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee 5-4 Wednesday on a party-line vote.
"When the governor sent this down to me, he said this is the version of the bill that I like," Altamirano said. "We almost have a guaranteed signature on this bill."
But the governor's nod didn't stop Lujan from introducing his own bill Wednesday. It calls for the state's minimum wage to go to $6.50 in July and to $7.50 in January 2008.
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
The death-penalty repeal bill has passed its 'first hurdle'. The House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee passed the bill on a 4-3 party line vote. But as with everything in this year's session, Bill Richardson's Presidential run is complicating this.
Two years ago, when asked about how a bill to abolish capital punishment would affect a Richardson presidential campaign, Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told a reporter, "That bill is deadly to his campaign if he becomes a candidate for president. It's a no-win proposition for him. He needs to make certain that bill never makes it to his desk."The bill now moves on to the House Judiciary Committee. It was in the Senate Judiciary Committee where it died by a one-vote margin last year.
However, Sabato now says he doesn’t think signing a death-penalty bill necessarily would sink Richardson's presidential dreams. In fact, he said, it could help during next year’s primary season.
"Opposing the death penalty is certainly not a plus in the general election, and a Republican nominee would be sure to use it against Richardson," Sabato said in an e-mail in response to a reporter's question Tuesday.
"But Richardson's big problem is getting nominated, and opposition to the death penalty would help, especially in Iowa, where anti-death penalty fervor is substantial among the voters who participate in the early caucuses," Sabato said.
The bill banning protests at funerals cleared its first hurdle. The House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee also passed this one, but on a 3-2 vote. It will also go to the House Judiciary Committee. There is, however, opposition to the bill.
Diane Wood of the American Civil Liberties Union testified against the bill, saying the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, even that which is "cruel, distasteful and upsetting."The bill is pretty much directly against Rev. Fred Phelps and his church that protests military funerals because they believe the military deaths are God's punishment for tolerating homosexuality. Just as Jesus would have done, right?
The Rev. Holly Beaumont of Santa Fe said she was sympathetic to the veterans, but she opposes the bill. Beaumont is the coordinator for Standing Together, a project of the New Mexico Conference of Churches that deals with hate groups. "If you pass this bill, Fred Phelps will celebrate," she said. "He'll be happy he was able to compromise freedom of speech." Beaumont said the best way to deal with Phelps' group — which she described as a "family cult" — is to ignore it.
A gaming compact with 11 tribes that would increase state revenues and extend the compact to 2045 will be explored by a joint committee. The House has named its eight members (Reps. Dan Silva, D-Albuquerque; Nick Salazar, D-Ohkay Owingeh; Jim Trujillo, D-Santa Fe; James Roger Madalena, D-Jemez Pueblo; Larry Larrañaga, R-Albuquerque; Tom Taylor, R-Farmington; W.C. "Dub" Williams, R-Glencoe; and Eric Youngberg, R-Albuquerque). The Senate has yet to do so.
The compact may not pass, but it may reach the floor. From the Albuquerque Tribune:
Legislators might not approve proposed new compacts between the state and its gambling tribes, but they'll get a chance to vote this session, said House Speaker Ben Lujan.House Minority Whip Dan Foley doesn't think that it will make it to the floor, however. "He gave us a 30-day agenda and we haven't got much of that done," he said. "You would think that with that ambitious of an agenda, his bills will be flowing out of committee.
"I think it's doable to get to the floor," said Lujan, a Namb‚ Democrat. "Now what that vote turns out to be is hard to say."
The compact would give the state greater control over the casinos, and would edge out competition from racetrack slot machines. The racetracks that currently have slot machines would be allowed to keep them, but could not add any or expand hours.
A surprising thing that I found out recently is that oil companies do not have to pay property owners for any damage done while drilling the oil.
Rep. Andy Nuñez, D-Hatch, introduced a bill Tuesday that would require oil and gas companies to notify private property owners before entering their land to drill. Under the bill, companies would also have to compensate property owners for any damage from drilling. A similar bill passed the House last year, but was not heard in the Senate.This should be a no-brainer to pass. That said, it will probably be heavily debated and opposed by those in the pocket of the oil companies.
Around the West, private property owners often don't own the mineral rights on their land. Currently, under state and federal law, private property owners receive no compensation or notification from oil and gas companies.
Meanwhile, in ethics news, some lawmakers want the US Attorneys office and New Mexico Attorney General Gary King to take a look at the Housing Authorities.
The letter was signed by 12 of the state's 112 lawmakers.I'll just echo Nash; this will be a back deal.
"We know each of you are aware of the serious allegations of possible wrongdoing, including potential criminal wrongdoing, at the regional housing authorities in the state. We urge you to investigate these allegations fully," the letter says.
This will be a big deal. Eyes are on the authorities in part because of a report that a high-paid aide to House Speaker Ben Lujan was getting free housing from an authority.
Finally, a bill asking for an automatic recount in close statewide or federal elections was introduced yesterday.
Any race for statewide office, such as governor, or for the U.S. House or Senate decided by one-half of 1 percent of votes cast would automatically trigger the recount.Other states have similar legislation. Currently, a candidate can ask for a recount, but they must pay for it themselves. If the results are overturned, then they get the money back.
The proposal also calls for the recounts to be paid for out of a new $500,000 state fund if the Legislature passes the bill and Gov. Bill Richardson signs it.
Anything that I missed? Add them in the comments.