NM Voter Roll Reveals Dead People and Foreign Nationals

From kasa.com -A state official says a review of election records has found several hundred dead New Mexicans remain on voter registration rolls. Ken Ortiz, chief of staff for Secretary of State Dianna Duran, said Wednesday that information will be part of a report to the Legislature on preliminary findings of a review of voter registration records. He said 641 dead people have been identified on voter rolls. The report may be released as early as Thursday. Duran has told county clerks that some people are being asked to complete new registration applications because of possible irregularities in their voter information. Her office notified the attorney general that two foreign nationals living legally in the country have voluntarily said they were registered voters. One has voted in elections since 1998.  More News New Mexico

FCC to Offer Lower Cable Rates for Low Income Families

From hotair.com -Today, the Federal Communications Commission announced that a handful of cable companies will offer discounted rates to low-income families — defined as those families that qualify for free school lunches. Families that qualify for free or reduced-price lunches will also be able to purchase low-cost computers. According to the president, ”securing America’s competitiveness in a global economy means making sure that every American has access to high-speed broadband Internet and is able to take advantage of it.”  More News New Mexico

Future Taxpayer Handouts: One-Stop-Shop Online

Santa Fe New Mexican - In a few years, low-income New Mexicans applying for Medicaid could do so online and learn at the same time if they also qualify for food stamps, emergency food assistance or child support. Finding out if you're eligible for Medicaid, the government's low-income health insurance program, or other government aid isn't that easy right now. Currently, a person can apply for Medicaid at offices around the state or can print out online applications, fill them out and then mail them in or hand-deliver them, said Matt Kennicott, a spokesman for the New Mexico Human Services Department. But times are a-changin'.
New Mexico is in the middle of a systemic overhaul of the technology running the state's health care system as it and other states prepare for the rollout of the nation's health care law in 2014. Decisions being made now will alter how people apply for certain government programs and how the state processes billions of dollars in Medicaid expenses every year. Medicaid covers more than 550,000 New Mexicans, or one-quarter of the state's population. In September, the state approved a a $75 million contract with Deloitte Consulting LLP to develop a new Medicaid eligibility process to replace a state computer system that has operated since the mid-1980s on technologies developed in the 1970s, according to state documents. The new system will roll "all our programs into one eligibility system," Kennicott said. At the same time the design of the new eligibility system has started, New Mexico is negotiating with an unidentified firm on a years-long contract worth $100 million that will update how Medicaid expenses are processed and paid. In addition to that, New Mexico should learn in a week or two whether it has qualified for $34 million in federal grant money to help set up a centerpiece of the new federal health care law, a state exchange. Read full story here: News New Mexico


Oh Christmas Fee Oh Christmas Fee!

Heritage - President Obama’s Agriculture Department today announced that it will impose a new 15-cent charge on all fresh Christmas trees—the Christmas Tree Tax—to support a new Federal program to improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees. In the Federal Register of November 8, 2011, Acting Administrator of Agricultural Marketing David R. Shipman announced that the Secretary of Agriculture will appoint a Christmas Tree Promotion Board. The purpose of the Board is to run a “program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace; maintain and expend existing markets for Christmas trees; and to carry out programs, plans, and projects designed to provide maximum benefits to the Christmas tree industry” (7 CFR 1214.46(n)). And the program of “information” is to include efforts to “enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States” (7 CFR 1214.10). To pay for the new Federal Christmas tree image improvement and marketing program, the Department of Agriculture imposed a 15-cent fee on all sales of fresh Christmas trees by sellers of more than 500 trees per year (7 CFR 1214.52). And, of course, the Christmas tree sellers are free to pass along the 15-cent Federal fee to consumers who buy their Christmas trees. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Salazar's New Order Contradicts 2010 Order

Marita Noon
Weeks after the infamous BP oil spill in late-April 2010, the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the agency that managed leasing and regulation, was split up into three parts. Addressing the reorganization, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, said: “We will be able to strengthen oversight of the companies that develop our nation’s energy resources.” He addressed a perceived conflict of interest between departments due to the leasing and regulatory functions being in one agency—one brings in revenue and one regulates (and perhaps punishes) the businesses generating the income.
Ken Salazar
His mid-May 2010 actions bring his new Secretarial Order to reorganize a different agency into question. On October 26, 2011, Secretary Salazar signed Secretarial Order 3315 that will consolidate the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) within the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Order states that “fee collections” and “regulation, inspection and enforcement, and state program oversight” will now be integrated—the very tasks split out within the MMS reorganization. Because this new order seems in direct contradiction to the 2010 SO 3299, it raises suspicion as to the true purpose of the agency reorganization—especially since the impacted industry is the administration’s favorite villain—coal. Read full column here: News New Mexico

GPS Tracking Devices Help Crime Investigation

KOB TV - Two former City of Albuquerque Solid Waste Management workers are under criminal investigation for defrauding the city, among other alleged crimes. In late 2010 and early 2011, management at Solid Waste hired a private investigator to follow garbage truck collectors, Leroy Ulibarri and Rick Koppos. The investigations were triggered when managers noticed that GPS tracking software showed these two drivers frequently veering away from their garbage collection routes. Read full story here: News New Mexico