Minimum wage resolution falls short in NM legislature

From New Mexico - by Rob Nikolewski - SANTA FE – It took three hours of debate and even a phone call from Vice President Joe Biden to one Democratic member with an iffy record of voting with her colleagues but in the end, it wasn't enough.
       A resolution that called for changing the New Mexico constitution in order to take the minimum wage in the state to about $8.40 an hour and have it tied to cost of living adjustments met its legislative demise Wednesday when it didn't get the required 36 votes in the House of Representatives. The vote was 33-29 in favor but it needed 36 ”yes” votes in the 70-member House to move forward.
     Democrats placed a tactical bet at the start of the session by trying to raise the wage through constitutional amendment, which would have bypassed Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and gone to voters across the state on the November ballot if it passed both chambers of the Legislature.
     Senate Joint Resolution 13 passed the Senate without much trouble but fell short in the House.
     New Mexico House Democrats also lost the vote of Rep. Dona Irwin, D-Deming, who sided with Republicans in voting ”no.” Irwin said she supported raising the minimum wage but opposed doing it by constitutional amendment. More

House approves Navajo gambling compact

The House has approved a tribal-state gambling compact allowing the Navajo Nation to open three additional casinos.

The proposal cleared the House Monday on a 36-30 vote. It goes to the Senate with the legislative session nearing an end. Lawmakers will adjourn Thursday. 

The Navajos operate two Las Vegas-style casinos in New Mexico under a compact expiring next year and a third casino offers low-stakes gambling not subject to state regulation. 

The proposed compact would permit the state's largest tribe to phase in three new casinos over 15 years.The gambling proposal is opposed by some other pueblos and tribes, which worry that their casinos will be hurt if the Navajos open more casinos. 

The proposed compact must be approved by the Legislature and the Interior Department to take effect.


Senate approves Gov's Environment Secretary pick

Ryan Flynn
The Senate has approved Gov. Susana Martinez's choice to run the New Mexico Environment Department despite the objections of several conservation groups.

 Lawmakers voted 30-11 Tuesday to confirm the nomination of Ryan Flynn as cabinet secretary of the agency. The governor appointed Flynn to the post last year after a retirement forced her to reshuffle leadership in two agencies. Flynn had previously served as the agency's general counsel for two years. 

Flynn's confirmation followed a two-hour hearing in which environmentalists criticized him and the department over the development of regulations aimed at groundwater and copper mining. 

Critics contend the department caved to industry interests in crafting the rules, which they say violate state law prohibiting water contamination above certain standards. 

Flynn disputed the allegations and said his responsibility is to protect New Mexico's air, water and landscapes.