New Mexico Legislature rejects driver's license ban

From - By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - Governor Susana Martinez continues her push to ban driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. On Thursday, her bill that would accomplish that has undergone some major changes that certainly will not please Martinez. Democrats in the majority on the House Labor Committee amended the governor’s proposal to basically allow the state to keep issuing the licenses, but with more restrictions. The Democrats' move comes a day after the Associated Press published results of an investigation showing what appears to be fairly widespread fraud in the issuing of the licenses, especially in the multiple uses of 170 addresses for 2,662 license applicants who are foreigners. One of the addresses is for a smoke shop. "When you read how many people are coming in from all over the world in here, Pakistan - you've seen that just recently - and from Colombia and everywhere, and so we gotta put a stop to it," said Rep. Andy Nunez, the Hatch Independent who sponsored the governor's bill. But Nunez saw the Labor Committee pull the bill's teeth tonight. Illegal immigrants would still be able to get licenses, but with tougher residency requirements, two year limits and increased penalties for any fraud artists who might get caught in license scams. Rep. Bill O'Neill, an Albuquerque Democrat, introduced a compromise bill that would allow provisional licenses for illegal immigrants that would only be valid in New Mexico. "But they're not real licenses," O'Neill said. "They are provisional licenses. They cannot travel with them but they can get insurance, they can drive their kids to school, they can drive themselves to work." Compromises usually don't please people with rigid opinions on hot-button issues, and O'Neill ruefully admits that both immigrant-advocates and the governor's side actively dislike his bill. Since the current state law went into effect in 2003, more than 90,000 licenses have been issued to immigrants in New Mexico, and state officials say most of them are probably immigrants. It's hard to say for sure, because license applicants are not asked about their immigration status. Read more

The final consequences of political actions

Commentary by Michael Swickard, Ph.D. - Individual politicians say they have to be financially irresponsible or be thrown out of office. That is true. If a candidate does not clamor for money to bring to the district they are unelectable. Current politicians only have one plan, “I will spend the resources of our nation on you, whether we have resources or not.”So, my fellow Americans, we have discovered the problem and the problem is us. Now that we have the culprit firmly grasped by the collar what are we to do with ourselves? The politics of promise is where the power and money is in our society. Anyone with a frugal streak is unelectable because voters rightly understand that if one state foregoes the federal largess another state will get that benefit instead. Voters rationalize that someone will get those resources; we must elect someone to look after our short-term interests.At the core what is being practiced in our country is a political system designed to give amazing power to a few while taking the resources of many. Because so many people benefit from the theft of resources, there are not enough protestors to the theft of our country’s future. Know this: the promises sound great but are not sustainable. One day the bill will come due. Our country will be like Greece in that riots will precede the collapse. Will there be a collapse? There has to be, no other outcome is possible. Read column

Guest of NM state rep suffers eye injury during Occupy protest in Santa Fe

Capitol Report New - Occupy protesters came under fire at the Roundhouse on Thursday after a handful of them burst into a dinner for state legislators at the Eldorado Hotel on Wednesday night, shouting political slogans, trying to rope off the diners with crime scene tape and throwing protest material that ended up hitting the female guest of state Rep. Bill Rehm (R-Albuquerque) in the eye, possibly causing some damage. The protesters were angry that a number of New Mexico lawmakers some Democrats but mostly Republicans were taking part in the dinner, which was hosted by the American Legislative Exchange Council , a conservative organization that calls for smaller government but is targeted by many on the left as a tool for corporate America. According to lawmakers who attended the dinner, a protest was held outside the hotel prior to the dinner, with the demonstrators loudly insisting that the legislators skip the dinner. About 70 people were in a private room at the Old House Restaurant at the Eldorado when, according to lawmakers interviewed by Capitol Report New Mexico, about five or six protesters burst through the doors, shouting, grabbing yellow police tape “as it this was a crime scene, I guess,” one legislator said and then started throwing 5 x 8 cards “they were fake invitations of some sort,” one witness said and one of the cards struck Rep. Rehm’s guest in the eye. Witnesses say the woman throwing the card was “in her late 20s, a slender, white female” and was hustled out of the room by Rep. Dennis Kintigh (R-Roswell), who is a former FBI agent. Read more

Audit blasts PRC; state auditor calls for chairman to resign

From the Santa Fe New - State Auditor Hector Balderas on Thursday called for Public Regulation Commission Chairman Pat Lyons to step down for what Balderas said was an improper use of a state vehicle.Lyons' use of a Ford F-250 truck for approximately 65 days, potentially violating the rules of a federal program, resulted in more than $1,100 of questionable costs to the public, Balderas said. The call for Lyons' resignation Thursday coincided with the release of a special audit into the scandal-plagued Public Regulation Commission that found sloppy recordkeeping at the agency. Separate from the audit, Balderas also announced Thursday that he had forwarded to the proper authorities several emails from or to PRC employees containing possible communications about the purchase of illegal drugs.Balderas, a Democrat, and Lyons, a Republican, have sparred publicly about this audit in the past. Lyons said he questioned the ability of Balderas' office to conduct the audit, which led to seeking an independent firm conducting the audit. Balderas said Lyons was obstructing the audit initially. Read more

"Typical Voters"


Overnight Energy: Chu To Tout Obama Energy in N.M.

Steven Chu
From thehill. -Energy Secretary Steven Chu is taking President Obama’s State of the Union energy message on the road Thursday.  Chu will “discuss the Obama Administration’s commitment to energy innovation and advanced manufacturing” in Albuquerque, N.M., according to the Energy Department.  Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) will join Chu on a tour of the Sandia National Laboratories’ National Solar Thermal Test Facility in the morning. Then Chu will hold a town hall at the University of New Mexico. The trip is part of a broad push by the administration to tout the energy proposals Obama outlined Tuesday night in his State of the Union address.  Obama, in the speech, outlined plans to expand renewable energy on public lands and called on Congress to pass legislation to “help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings.”  More News New Mexico

Hollywood Back at Roundhouse with Hand Out

KOB TV - The battle over New Mexico's rebates for the film industry may be over before the shooting starts. Governor Susana Martinez told lawmakers not to bother passing any bills that would do away with the $50 million cap on the payback deal for movie-makers. The bill does not stand a chance of becoming state law. Film makers who spend a dollar making a movie in New Mexico will get 25 cents back. The old deal had no limit but last year, Martinez compromised with lawmakers and got the $50 million cap. Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives have the votes to rid the cap but Martinez said they should not waste their time.
"I will not sign a bill that changes what is in law and in place right now," Martinez said. "I want predictability for the film industry and they have received predictability and I think they really appreciate the fact that there is predictability. It allows us to formulate a budget and balance the budget." Read full story here: News New Mexico

Senate Democrats Attempt to Explain Position on Issuing Driver's Licenses to Illegals

SANTA FE-- The Democratic Caucus of the New Mexico State Senate released the following statement on the drivers licenses for foreign nationals law.
"This issue has drawn national attention and it has made one thing very clear: the current law must be strengthened to include provisions that clearly address the flaws. Repealing the law and forcing a fraction of the driving population to go without proper licensing, registration or insurance puts New Mexican families at risk. That is why in the last session we fought for a law that would directly address the challenges that we face.
The compromise bill would have required license renewal every two years, required fingerprints in a database that would have been available to all departments of law enforcement and would have raised the penalties for those who knowingly provided false paperwork for foreign nationals.
There are more than 90,000 foreign nationals with licenses, and 97 percent of them have complied with our state's licensing requirements. Repealing the law would not advance public safety, would not help law enforcement and would not eliminate instances of fraud. A sweeping approach may create safety issues. We need to address those actually committing fraud while making sure that everyone driving is licensed, registered and insured."


"Obama 2012 Platform"


Rue Continues Fight for More Open Government

Sander Rue
Santa Fe – State Senator Sander Rue of Albuquerque said more state government employee names and salaries will be on New Mexico’s Sunshine Portal, and the requirement to put the information on the state’s website would be in state law and would not be at the whim of future governors, if his bill to expand the definition of “state agency” in the Sunshine Portal is passed.
The definition will be expanded to include all branches of government. If SB 30 passes, employee names, titles and salaries of the Executive, Judicial and Legislative branches of state government would be required to be included on the state’s website. Because they are state employees, school personnel including teachers and administrators would be included, too.
“Governor Susana Martinez has done an excellent job requiring her administration’s employee names and salaries be on the state’s website so members of the public, who pay their salaries, can have this information,” Senator Rue said. “ If this expansion of the Sunshine Portal passes, future administrations will have to follow suit and all branches of government will be required to include their employees’ names, positions and salaries on the website.”
His SB 30- State Agency Sunshine Portal Requirements – would require the directory of state employees, not only non-exempt employees, be included on the state’s website with their titles and salaries. Senator Rue’s bill provides exceptions for undercover police officers and anyone who has filed for a protection order under the Family Violence Protection Act.
Less than two years ago, the Sunshine Portal Transparency Act was signed into law. Currently, all exempt employees, their titles and salaries are made public on the portal, as well as financial information. The state’s budget is also on the state portal. The address for the portal is: It is called the Official Government Transparency Portal of New Mexico.