Gentry (R) and Keller (D) Work Together

Nate Gentry
News NM - Senator Tim Keller (D-17) and Representative Nate Gentry (R-30) introduced legislation to add predictability to state of New Mexico agencies' rule-making and regulatory processes. HB 34 would impose a standard set of rule-making requirements on all New Mexico agencies and would give New Mexico businesses greater certainty as to what would be required of them when they choose to invest in New Mexico. 
Tim Keller
Under the current regulatory structure, any executive agency can alter licensing and permitting processes as they see fit and as many times as they like. Because of this, the "rules of the game" are different for nearly every entity that touches state government. This bill would standardize procedures such as public comment periods, appeal methods, fee structures and response requirements. “Providing regulatory certainty is a big step in the right direction to making our state a better for businesses and for the public. This bill creates a framework for consistency based on best practices and bi-partisan common sense.”
"Too often, New Mexico agencies change the rules of the game and, because businesses are not clear about what will be expected of them, they chose to invest in states where the regulatory environment is more predictable," said Gentry. "I am confident that this legislation will reduce the amount of risk businesses face and will encourage more investment in our state." The bill is the outcome of a year-long task force comprised of business, environmental, legal and community members and has been previously endorsed by the New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry, and Conservation Voters of New Mexico. New Mexico is the last state in our country that does not follow this standard.


Stock Market Flat in 2011

NewsNM note (Spence) - The primary objective of the Federal Reserve Board's near zero interest rate policy is to keep borrowing costs low for the federal government. The policy has a fatal flaw. It robs savers and bond buyers of a decent rate of return. The effects of a zero investment return policy has had a significant impact on the broad stock market. Yesterday the Standard and Poors 500 index finished the year of 2011 virtually exactly where it started. It lost 0.003 percent in 2011. Below is my column from earlier in the week regarding the economy, politicians, and the Fed's policy signals.
The Fed Will Signal When the Economy is Recovering
Ben Bernanke
There is a politician proof way to determine if the U.S. economy is really improving. It is better than listening to the coming pre-election chatter. Simply keep an eye on the Federal Reserve Board’s interest rate policy, especially if you are relying on interest income to pay your bills. The Fed’s actions will speak much louder than all politician words.
The Fed’s current policy is to force all savers to settle for virtually no return whatsoever on their savings. And with the Fed’s near zero interest rate policy, which has been in place since 2008, we have the facts we need to understand exactly what people in possession of relevant economic data think of the U.S. economy. The Fed has been keeping rates low for what it thinks are good reasons. It is going out of its mind trying to “help” a rotten U.S. economy.
Still, Fed watchers hear Chairman Ben Bernanke regularly extol the virtues of a low interest rate policy in his speeches. When he does so it is important to realize that low rates do not help most people who need to borrow or lend. Few citizens and very few small businesses can take advantage of 1-2% interest rates. Only the federal government, huge publicly traded companies, and well-reserved home owners using Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac enjoy the fruits of borrowing at low rates. By and large, small businesses and individuals daring enough to borrow, and willing enough to risk going into debt, are forced to shoulder the burden of 6-8% commercial loan rates, if not higher. And regulator-weary community bankers are routinely forced into a policy of being not very willing to lend to anyone who truly needs money even at 6-8%. Naturally the Fed does not spend much time talking about these realities or the fact that savers are getting the shaft. They would have us believe low rates are a magic economic tonic for our economy.
There is more. Most banks, contrary to popular belief, are actually losing money on short term deposits, thanks to a miniscule overnight Fed Funds rate which is also determined by the Federal Reserve Board.
The year 2012 offers Americans great certainty. It is a virtual certainty that Democrats will blame all bad news related to the economy on Republicans. It is also quite certain Democrats will try to simultaneously take credit for any good news on the economy. On the other hand, the GOP will most certainly downplay any improvements in the economy. And the GOP will surely blame the Democrat’s policies of big government-run healthcare, banking, green energy “investments,” and affordable energy disinvestments, for our terrible economy and high unemployment rate.
The bottom line for truth seeking Americans is pretty simple. The Fed will let us know when sustained job creation and the prosperity associated with real economic expansion takes hold. It will be when the Federal Reserve, not politicians seeking affirmation, shows appropriate confidence by changing its interest rate policy. In the meantime, if you, like millions of Americans haven’t benefitted over the last three years from the near zero interest rate environment created by the Fed, don’t assume the country is back on the right track, no matter what any politician tries to tell you. Politicians are master manipulators. Fed monetary policies offer the closest thing to the truth about what the government’s data tells us about a rebound in our economy.


Sanchez Answers Thomas Cole Column

John Sanchez
By John Sanchez - This is a response to Mr. Cole’s piece in the Albuquerque Journal on December 28, 2011 regarding my role as Lieutenant Governor. To begin, I entered public service by serving as a Trustee (Councilman) for the Village of Los Ranchos from 1997 to 2000. Serving at the local municipal level has shaped my conviction that all service is most effective when it is delivered locally. Also, his take on the differences between former Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish and me is only partially correct. While some elected officials go out of their way to promote themselves through press releases, social media or other means, the true measure of public service is the work that goes on behind the scenes.
After the election in November of 2010, I toured all 33 counties and conducted over 100 individual meetings with business leaders, elected officials and private citizens. We proceeded with the hard and fast work of setting up a new office and preparing for the 60 day legislative session all before the 18th of January. I presided over the State Senate, met with legislators, helped to push Governor Martinez’s bold agenda and most importantly, made myself accessible to the citizens of New Mexico with an open door policy. Read rest of column here: News New Mexico

The Truth About Tax Breaks and Susidies

Jim Spence
Most people understand that politics and business should be separate and distinct. However, in recent years thanks to the boundless ambition of interventionists, politics and business have become so intertwined, it is difficult to determine when one ends and the other begins. Write an editorial piece on business......and politics must be part of the discussion. Write a piece on politics.....and business interests are almost inevitably part of the discussion. There seems to be widespread agreement that debate is healthy, except when religion is involved. Only a fool would venture into the public space and initiate a debate on religion. I proceed.
A catchy phrase tossed around frequently in today’s pop culture is, “tax breaks for oil companies.” Instead of merely accepting the full implications of this phrase at face value, the realities of the contributions to government and society by oil companies should be fully understood. There are many false notions about the companies that produce essential products we require for travel, warmth, nutrition, and the manufacture of everything from appliances and computers to smart phones. Millions of uninformed people draw the incorrect conclusion that oil companies are somehow….“on the take.” For decades our federal tax codes have been written in a way that narrows the definitions of various costs unique to the oil and gas industry. While the rules in the tax codes governing the timing of realizing costs like depreciation and depletion are occasionally accelerated or decelerated, these items should never viewed as “tax breaks.” They are schedules that apply to real business costs. The oxymoronic term, "tax expenditure" has also become a phrase useful for manipulating the uninformed. Often the use of this term is based on the bogus premise that the government has unlimited discretion over the process of accepting or rejecting various business costs.
With these completely false assumptions firmly in place, when legitimate costs are properly accounted for as expenses by oil companies, preachers in the man-made climate change religion’s hierarchy feel free to apply the false, but politically effective labels, “tax breaks or subsidies,” to oil companies. They do so to encourage their congregations to accept as a matter of faith that a taxpayer giveaway is taking place.
For a couple of decades the new age religion of man-made climate change has been the fastest growing faith on earth. Unfortunately for America, religious fanaticism originating in this faith’s churches is the primary impediment to intelligent national energy policy. Ironically, at stake are massive government subsidies in the form of grants to these new age churches. The annual availability of billions for man-made climate change studies has spawned devoted government grant-dependent church hierarchies in all fifty states. The preachers in these pulpits are politically adroit.
While simultaneously collecting cash from governments, this clever clergy refers to legitimate cost allocation provisions in the federal tax code as tax breaks for oil companies. Their devoted congregations are indifferent to oil business costs or basic accounting. Having religiously attended publicly funded man-made climate change bible schools, they have been systematically conditioned to become true believers in the satanic nature of oil companies. The human history of extremists in religions repeats itself. All heretics are referred to as “deniers” and politically persecuted. Strangely enough, preachers and members of these new age congregations do not seem to have the personal discipline to refrain from the acts of using fossil-fuel based products. Surely they must suffer from guilt, remorse, and self-loathing each day as they take actions to stay warm, eat, travel, and use their smart phones. Their repeated succumbing to temptation is reminiscent of Joan Jett's classic rock song, "I Hate Myself for Loving You." Step aside, Jimmy Swaggart. Suddenly the religion of man-made climate change is under fire. Canada just rejected their favorite canonized scripture, the ill-conceived Kyoto Treaty.
A Nobel Prize winning physicist, Dr. Ivar Giaever, recently left the church blaming anti-science fanatics. And despite the coddling and subsidizing of politically-connected wind and solar businesses, the number of bankruptcies and related job losses is also a threat to the offering plates. Add to this the recent data manipulation scandals of Climate-gate and suddenly there has been a marked resurgence of agnosticism. It seems the potential for growth in future devotions to man-made climate change bible study classes is suddenly less assured. There is an “inconvenient truth.” It is inconvenient that the tax revenue contribution math is so very simple. Wind and solar companies, the favorites of church fanatics, have always been huge net “takers” from taxpayers. And the supposedly satanic oil companies? They have always been huge net “givers.”


Gessing: Fracking is Essential to our Future

Paul Gessing
Mora County Commissioner John Olivas wants a ban on oil and gas drilling in Mora County because he is concerned with the environmental impact of a drilling process named hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking,” as it is colloquially called. Mora County is not alone in its concern about fracking. Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and San Miguel counties have halted or discouraged drilling and fracking with ordinances and moratoriums.
Fracking involves a process wherein, once a well has been drilled to hydrocarbon-bearing rock (usually shale), the rock is blasted by a mixture of water, sand and chemicals. Fractures in the rock then allow the trapped gas or liquids to make their exit. Why are county commissioners in New Mexico jumping on the “ban wagon”?
Michael Moore
Maybe they have been watching too many Michael Moore-like documentaries on Netflix. An Oscar-nominated documentary, “Gasland,” says that fracking contaminates our water supply with chemicals. In the movie, some homeowners set their tap water on fire. Industry experts maintained that the film was fraught with errors and misinformation, but nevertheless it dealt fracking something of a blow. The movie got a lot of attention (maybe Commissioner Olivas’?), but the movie’s arguments against fracking turn out to be deceitful. Apparently, the dramatic tap water blaze had little to do with fracking. In many parts of America, there is enough methane in the ground to leak into people’s well water. The best fire scene in the movie was shot in Colorado, where the filmmaker is in the kitchen of a man who lights his faucet. But Colorado investigators went to the man’s house, checked out his well and found that fracking had nothing to do with his water catching fire. His well-digger had drilled into a naturally occurring methane pocket. It’s not overstating the case to say that unconventional hydrocarbons have shifted the world’s energy balance of power. The “shale gale” has spread the wealth around. Vast volumes of hydrocarbons are not just Middle Eastern plays anymore. Read full column here: News New Mexico

Judge sets Congressional district lines

James Hall
From - (AP) - A state district judge has adopted a redistricting plan that will establish slightly different boundaries for New Mexico's three congressional districts. Judge James Hall issued his ruling Thursday afternoon. Hall is adopting a plan that makes the fewest changes to the existing districts. It has the support of Gov. Susana Martinez, other Republicans and a group of Democrats that include Rep. Brian Egolf of Santa Fe. Hall contends the plan respects existing boundaries and places the fewest number of voters in new districts. He says it also strikes an appropriate balance between various interests and political parties. Read more

"It's a Dog's Life"


Gov. Martinez pushes for tougher DWI laws

From - (AP) - With New Year's Eve fast approaching, Gov. Susana Martinez and others are continuing their push to get New Mexicans to put down the bottle if they have any plans on driving. Martinez will be at a DWI checkpoint in Albuquerque late Thursday to share her message. However, the push for awareness and tougher laws started earlier this fall after a pre-holiday spike in fatal drunken driving accidents. The governor and anti-DWI advocates are planning to push a series of legislative measure next year that include a statewide vehicle seizure program and increased penalties for repeat offenders. Read more

Albuquerque Gas pump tapped for hundreds of gallons

From - An Albuquerque Northeast Heights gas station said two thieves stole thousands of dollars in gas from one gas pump. “It started at about 11:30 and it ended like at 2:30 a.m.,” said the gas station manger Johnny Bauer. For three hours on the night of Dec. 26 the manager of the Texaco on the corner of Lomas and Juan Tabo boulevards said two crooks pilfered hundreds of gallons of gas. “He actually opens the pump up and he removes and tampers with thing that allows it to flow after the counter has stopped,” Bauer said. The two men filled up a couple of barrels in the bed of the truck, once those are full, they took off. But they are not done yet. The two came back a second time, and it is the same routine. Finally they came back a third time. However on their final trip they showed up with two different trucks, each one loaded down with barrels. "They stole about 688 gallons from this pump itself in diesel and another 93 in unleaded,” said Bauer. The thefts were discovered the next day during a review of the overnight transactions. In order to start the pumps the crooks had to use a credit card. Bauer said the same card was used during all the thefts, and he hopes it leads officer to the fuel bandits. Bauer also believes the men in the video must have some sort of background in the gas business because they knew exactly how to break into the pump. Read more

Santa Fe announces minimum wage increase

From the Santa Fe New - Workers at businesses inside the Santa Fe city limits will earn more than $10 an hour beginning in March, according to an announcement today from the city's Economic Development Division. Santa Fe's minimum hourly wage will increase next year by at least 30 cents, based on changes in a federal index on the cost of living. While officials won't know the exact amount of the new wage until 2011 numbers are completed in mid-January by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, they already know that the current Santa Fe "living wage" of $9.85 an hour should have gone up by 1.4 percent this year — to $9.99. Last month, after inquiries from The New Mexican, Mayor David Coss said it appeared city staff had made an oversight in neglecting to adjust the wage this year as required by law when the regional Consumer Price Index shows an annual increase. Coss and the city manager decided this month not to pursue a retroactive wage change for workers, the mayor said Thursday, but to add the 2011 increase to the 2012 adjustment. Based on the first 11 months of the year, the wage will increase by an estimated additional 3 percent — taking it to between $10.22 and $10.32 per hour, according to estimates from Kate Noble, a city economic development specialist. Read more

Swickard: The truth about the year 2011

By Michael Swickard - It has been quite a year. America started 2011 in severe financial crisis with far too much governmental spending. We end the year without any real effort by our government to deal with the crisis. Most politicians refuse to even admit there is a crisis. Europeans are several years ahead in their financial crisis. They are even more intentionally ignorant of the financial calamity. We could watch them and learn from their mistakes, but we do not. Two issues: what is really happening financially in our country, and secondly, that the politicians and the media are not being truthful. There will be a time in the future when these extremely bad actions will have to be redeemed by the next generation’s taxpayers. They will pay for political influence entirely consumed by this generation. At best they will be sullen, at worse, mutinous. Read commentary

Man, 99, divorces wife of 77 Years over 60-year-old affair

From ABC News - This year has been filled with its share of sudden and surprising divorces in the entertainment and political world, but this split may take the cake. A 99-year-old Italian man filed for divorce from his 96-year-old wife of 77 years after he found letters from an affair she had 60 years ago. The man, identified in court papers as Antonio C., discovered the letters exchanged between his wife and a former flame in an old chest of drawers days before Christmas, according to the Telegraph. He confronted his wife, Rosa C., who reportedly admitted to the affair, and tried to convince him to stick with their marriage. But despite the nearly eight decades that they spent building a life together, a scorned Antonio C., moved ahead with the divorce. (Guess he never heard of “let bygones be bygones.”) The letters were the latest woes in the couple’s long marriage during which they had five kids, 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild together. Read more

21st century Whoops!


NM has 195,700 government workers

NM Business Weekly - Millions of voters are demanding the downsizing of government, but their wishes remain largely unfulfilled. Government employment has actually increased in 30 states and the District of Columbia during the past five years, according to a new On Numbers study. Topping the list is Texas, which contains 77,600 more federal, state and local government employees today than in November 2006. Other big gainers are Virginia (up 29,500 government jobs in five years), Maryland (up 23,600), Tennessee (up 22,000) and Colorado (up 21,400). Wyoming has experienced the biggest upswing in percentage terms, increasing its number of government jobs by 14.4 percent in half a decade.
New Mexico has 1,800 more government employees today than in November 2006, for a total of 195,700. The increase ranks the state 26th among the 50 states and D.C. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Low Profile of John Sanchez

John Sanchez
Albuquerque Journal - John Sanchez is no Diane Denish. You can decide whether that’s good or bad. The job of lieutenant governor is what you make it. Denish made a lot of it. Sanchez, not so much. Denish was high profile and aggressive, both in terms of helping set public policy and seeking the public spotlight. Sanchez has been decidedly low profile in his first year on the job. Go to the lieutenant governor’s official website and click on “public addresses.” There are none. As for “latest news” on the site, none of it even mentions Sanchez. Denish had as many as nine employees. Sanchez had two as of Dec. 1, according to government personnel records. Heck, he had only one as of Nov. 1. Read rest of story here (subscription required): News New Mexico


Non-Partisan Municipal Elections Discriminate?

Daily Caller - A U.S. District Court judge has rejected a challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — filled when the Department of Justice barred the city of Kinston, N.C. from holding nonpartisan elections — reasoning that lack of access to party affiliation would discriminate against minority voters who otherwise wouldn’t know how to find Democratic candidates on a ballot. The challenge was initiated after the Justice Department rejected a 2008 referendum vote in which the city of Kinston voted to stop listing candidates’ party affiliations on ballots. Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department must approve changes to election law in regions with a history, however distant, of racial discrimination. The Justice Department prevented the 2008 referendum change, arguing in part that “the elimination of party affiliation on the ballot will likely reduce the ability of blacks to elect candidates of choice.” Advocates for nonpartisan elections including Republican state representative Stephen LaRoque and several other Kinston residents subsequently sued the Justice Department, challenging the constitutionality of Section 5.
“When it comes to questions of federalism, there may not be a bigger intrusion into state sovereignty than the Voting Rights Act,” The John Locke Foundation, a conservative North Carolina think tanks, wrote in a recent newsletter. “There’s simply no basis for requiring certain jurisdictions to get pre-approval of voting procedures more than 45 years after the Voting Rights Act was passed.” Read full story here: News New Mexico

Lobos Blow NMSU Away

Steve Alford
LAS CRUCES – The rout was on from the opening tip. Steve Alford's UNM Lobos absolutely crushed Marvin Menzies NMSU Aggies last night at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces. Up by 34 points with a little more than 7 minutes to play in the second half, the twenty point margin in the final score made the blowout seem closer than it actually was. The game that was never in much doubt all night and it ended with a final score of 89-69.
With the win the Lobo's basketball dominance of the Aggies under Steve Alford continues. Alford is 8-2 against the Aggies over the last ten games despite a November loss in the Pit back in November.


"Laser-Like Focus"


NM won't have floats in Rose Parade

From - SANTA FE (KRQE) - As hundreds of volunteers prune and primp roses, leading up to one of the most popular parades around, New Mexico will be sitting on the sidelines. The Land of Enchantment has entered floats four of the last five years, showcasing everything New Mexico, from hot air balloons to a Roswell UFO theme to even Wile Coyote and the Road Runner. The floats flourished under former Gov. Bill Richardson, whose administration believed the parade catapulted the state into the national spotlight and boosted tourism. But the new administration has charted a new course when it comes to tourism marketing, and it doesn't plan to participate in the parade. "Our entire focus is on spending the taxpayer dollar in the most efficient and effective way possible," said Tourism Secretary Monique Jacobson. Building a float cost upwards of $200,000 a year, money that Jacobson said can be better spent elsewhere. Read more

Buffalo Barges Through Edgewood Community

From - EDGEWOOD, N.M. -- Edgewood residents got a noisy surprise Wednesday when a buffalo ran wild through the town. The wild beast even got the Torrance County Sheriff himself out to wrangle the critter. The buffalo was spotted about 8:30 a.m. in one of the town's subdivisions. "It zigzagged in and out of backyards and on roads," Sheriff Heath White said. Resident Irene Buynar looked outside to see the buffalo in her fenced-in backyard. "I might have a pet for the rest of the year," Buynar said. After about three hours of the buffalo being on the run, deputies began their first earnest attempt to catch the beast. Unfortunately the buffalo got spooked by their first try and they had to change tactics. White said this was buffalo No. 3 for his department this year. "We usually deal with outlaws of a different manner," White said. Deputies said the buffalo will be released back to the wild where it belongs. Investigators said it's unclear whom the buffalo belongs to. Read more

Senate Republicans Seek to Block Unconfirmed Appointments to Labor Board

From - WASHINGTON – As a year marred with fights and stalemates within the federal government comes to a close, Republican lawmakers and President Obama are embroiled in yet another battle of wills. Republican lawmakers are refusing to officially adjourn for the year in hopes of deterring Obama from making any unconfirmed appointments to controversial boards while Congress is on vacation. Senate Republicans and the president can’t agree on new National Labor Relations Board members, leaving only two chairs on the board filled going into the new year. This will cause the board to shut down, as a quorum cannot occur with two chairs filled. Obama will then be forced to make recess appointments in order to keep the board running. However, under the Constitution the president can simply appoint someone to fill any of these slots on his own if the Senate is not in session. In an effort to prevent these recess appointments, Republicans are having the Senate ‘gavel in gavel out’ every few days, meaning they are not officially adjourning for the year. If this prevents the Senate from taking a recess, lawmakers believe Obama will be stopped from making any recess appointments. However, this may all depend on how one defines a recess. Obama could argue that two or three days can be defined as a recess, although recent history dictates that is not the case. Political expert Stephen Hess of Brookings says the president would have to stretch to justify qualifying two or three days as a recess. "He's got the option," Hess said, "but he's got to go back a long way in history to find an example that's going to suit his convenience if he wants to go ahead with a recess appointment." Democratic strategist Doug Schoen believes an effort by the president to challenge the recess would be too risky. Read more


Tarzan's Chimp Sidekick, Cheetah, Dies at 80

NewsNM: Swickard - cute story but we think that it has to be a sham. Still, cute story. From People Pets - Cheetah, a chimpanzee who starred alongside Tarzan in the franchise films of the early 1930s, died Saturday. He had experienced kidney failure earlier that week, and was thought to be 80 years old. Cheetah, also known as Cheetah-Mike, acted as Tarzan's comic sidekick "Cheeta" and was one of several chimpanzees who appeared in the films of 1932 to 1934, with Johnny Weissmuller in the starring role. Around 1960, after living on Weissmuller's estate, Cheetah retired to Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, Fla. "It is with great sadness that the community has lost a dear friend and family member," the sanctuary announced this week on its website. Chimpanzees live an average of 45 years in the wild, and captive chimps have an average lifespan of 60 years. While at the sanctuary, Cheetah enjoyed watching sports on television, listening to nondenominational Christian music, and occasionally throwing poop when he was feeling disgruntled. Read more

Martinez Wants More Money For College Prep

From -New Mexico high school students will get more access to advanced placement classes and be able to take the PSAT for free under a plan unveiled Wednesday by Gov. Susana Martinez. Martinez said the budget recommendations to the 2012 Legislature also include more frequent testing to ensure students are learning what they need to know to get into college. "Today's students are tomorrow's workforce," Martinez said at the University of New Mexico. "When they graduate high school, New Mexico students deserve every advantage to make sure they are successful in college. When our students earn their diploma, they expect to have all the skills they need for college. These reforms will help us deliver on that promise." The recommendations call for $4.2 million to fund increased access to AP programs, and $2.5 million for statewide short-cycle tests for more than 180,000 students in grades 4 through 10.  More News New Mexico

Top 10 Worst Federal Rules of 2011

From the Foundry - Hindsight is supposed to be 20/20, but looking back on the past 12 months, it’s tough to see any sense in many of the Administration’s regulatory missteps. Of course, there are bound to be a few howlers when government churns out more than 3,500 rules in a year, including dozens unleashed by Obamacare, Dodd–Frank, and the perpetually errant Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But by any standard, 2011 brought forth a remarkable number and variety of regulatory blunders. Fair warning: Our Top 10 list may prove fatal to any bit of faith in government as a “fixer,” if faith somehow has managed to survive despite all evidence to the contrary. In any event, it should steel our resolve to fight the Leviathan in the coming year.
1. The Dim Bulbs Rule. As per Congress, of course, for issuing an edict to phase out the incandescent light bulbs on which the world has relied for more than a century. With the deadline looming in 2012, Americans by the millions spent the past year pressing lawmakers to lift the ban which, contrary to eco-ideology, will kill more American jobs than create “green” ones. (Congress evidently overlooked the fact that the vast majority of fluorescent bulbs are manufactured in China.) The 2012 appropriations bill barred the use of funds to enforce the regulation, but it remains in law.
2. The Obamacare Chutzpah Rule. The past year was marked by a slew of competing court rulings on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, the cornerstone of Obamacare. The law requires U.S. citizens to obtain health insurance or face financial penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Service. Never before has the federal government attempted to force all Americans to purchase a product or service.
3. The Nationalization of Internet Networks Rule. Regulations that took effect on November 1 prohibit owners of broadband networks from differentiating among various content in managing Internet transmissions. (In other words, the Federal Coercion Communications Commission effectively declared the broadband networks to be government-regulated utilities.)
4. The Equine Equality Rule. As of March 15, hotels, restaurants, airlines, and the like became obliged to modify “policies, practices, or procedures” to accommodate miniature horses as service animals.
5. The Smash Potatoes Regulation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed stricter nutrition standards that would prohibit school lunch ladies from serving more than one cup per week of potatoes per student. Instead, schools would be required to provide more dark green, orange, and dry bean varieties (think kale) in order to foster vegetable diversity. The cafeteria mandate will affect more than 98,000 elementary and secondary schools at a cost exceeding $3.4 billion in the next four years.
6. The Bring on the Blackouts Rule. The EPA is proposing to force power plants to reduce mercury by 90 percent within three years—at an estimated cost of $11 billion annually. A significant number of coal-fired plants will actually exceed the standard—by shutting down altogether. Indeed, grid operators, along with 27 states, are warning that the overly stringent regulations will threaten the reliability of the electricity system and dramatically increase power costs.
7. The Wal-Mart Windfall Amendment. One of hundreds of new regulations dictated by the Dodd–Frank financial regulation statute requires the Federal Reserve to regulate the fees that financial institutions may charge retailers for processing debit card purchases.
8. The Plumbing Police Rule. The U.S. Department of Energy began preparations for tightening the water efficiency standards on urinals. It’s all spelled out in excruciating detail in the Energy Conservation Program for Consumer Products Other Than Automobiles, which also regulates the efficiency of toilets, faucets, and showers. And refrigerators and freezers, air conditioners, water heaters, furnaces, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, ovens and ranges, pool heaters, television sets, and anything else the Energy Secretary deems as electrically profligate. 9. The Chill the Economy Regulation. The EPA issued four interrelated rules governing emissions from some 200,000 boilers nationwide at an estimated capital cost of $9.5 billion. These boilers burn natural gas, fuel oil, coal, biomass (e.g., wood), refinery gas, or other gas to produce steam, which is used to generate electricity or provide heat for factories and other industrial and institutional facilities. Under the so-called Boiler MACT, factories, restaurants, schools, churches, and even farms would be required to conduct emissions testing and comply with standards of control that vary by boiler size, feedstock, and available technologies. .
10. The Unions Rule Rule. New rules require government contractors to give first preference in hiring to the workers of the company that lost the contract. Tens of thousands of companies will be affected, with compliance costs running into the tens of millions of dollars—costs ultimately borne by taxpayers. The rule effectively ensures that a non-unionized contractor cannot replace a unionized one.

DHS Following Tweets and Postings on Social Media Sites

From -Earlier this month, we reported that an archive of tweets could be held indefinitely by the Library of Congress if they have any “long-term historical interest.” But what about active monitoring of social media by the government? If you think the government is tracking your online movements, keywords in your tweets could be just what turns its eye onto you.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its plans to monitor social media sites in the interest of public safety in February 2011. Now, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), according to Courthouse News, says DHS could track words like “human to animal,“ ”collapse,“ ”infection,” “outbreak” and “illegal immigrants” using fake accounts.  More News New Mexico


Rail Runner to Try "Quiet Car"

KRWG - New Mexico's commuter rail service will begin testing a "quiet car" next week in which passengers will speak in subdued voices and refrain from cell phone use. The Rail Runner Express will launch the 90-day trial period on Tuesday to test the "quiet car" on certain early and afternoon trains. Operators of the rail system say hundreds of passengers in a survey earlier this year said they would use such a car. Read full story here: New New Mexico

Campaign Against Clarence Thomas Underway

NewsNM note: As a subscriber to the Nation, a favorite website of progressives, we receive regular emails. This one came in today:
Dear Progressive Ally: Efforts to hold Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accountable for ethics violations have jumped to the next level, with a group of House Democrats led by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) now pushing for a Justice Department investigation into Justice Thomas' possible serious violations. Please sign our petition supporting the call for an investigation now. Various reports have raised concerns about Justice Clarence Thomas' seemingly flagrant disregard for important disclosure requirements under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978. Justice Thomas failed to disclose his wife's earnings on judicial financial disclosure forms on which he was required to do so.
Clarence Thomas
And there are questions about his acceptance of gifts from interests with significant stake in several Supreme Court cases. The Supreme Court's very legitimacy and the public's trust in the institution are under threat if Justices do not strictly adhere to ethical standards. It's incredibly important that Justice Thomas' violations are not ignored and that he be held accountable. Hold Justice Clarence Thomas accountable -- take action to support a DOJ investigation now! After you sign, please help spread the word and recruit more Americans to this cause. Thank you for stand up for fair and just courts -- the American Way.


N.M Deputy Crashes Car in Restaurant

From - A Taos County sheriff's deputy crashed his car into a packed El Prado restaurant on Christmas Eve, landing in the patio. As the deputy's car spun and rolled through the parking lot into the patio, it took out more than half of the restaurant's fence and three trees before coming to rest on the patio fire pit, in an area where there also was a tank of kerosene and a propane tank, said a restaurant employee who was in the restaurant at the time. Beer cans were found in the deputy's car, but Romero was adamant that Lamendola had not been drinking. "He had just borrowed the vehicle from another officer, and that officer had responded to open container calls," Romero said. "(Lamendola) wasn't drinking."  More News New Mexico


Fed Quietly Using "Swap" Contracts to Bail Out Europe

Ben Bernanke
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, America's central bank, the Federal Reserve, is engaged in a bailout of European banks. The arrangement is getting no play in the media in the U.S. The Fed has engaged in a "temporary U.S. dollar liquidity swap arrangement" with the European Central Bank (ECB). In this type of arrangement, WITHOUT ANY CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT or regulatory approval the Federal Reserve "swaps" dollars for euros with the ECB. The Fed receives an interest rate of one-half of 1% above the overnight index swap rate. For its part the ECB, guarantees to return the dollars at an exchange rate fixed at the time the original swap is made. This frees the ECB up to lend the dollars to European banks.
Why are the Fed and the ECB doing this? Both central banks appear to be attempting to fly under the radar. The Fed does not want the debt of foreign banks on its books and a currency swap with the ECB is not technically a loan.
The ECB has even bigger political problems. The heads of many European governments want the ECB to do a bail out. However, most European governments hold the positon that the ECB cannot legally do so.
How big is this deal? As recently as October the amount under a swap renewal agreement from last summer was only $2.4 billion. And for the week ending Dec. 21, the total was $62 billion. These figures leave no doubt that the United States Federal Reserve Board is bailing out European banks and, indirectly, reckless undisciplined European governments. Will Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and President Obama ever get around to offering honest accounting to Congress and the American taxpayers of what they are doing? Don’t hold your breath.