New Mexico state budget a week overdue

From - By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - The only absolutely mandatory piece of business in the 30-day legislative session is now almost a week overdue. It is the New Mexico state budget that will run state government and the public schools and universities for an entire year. The budget was scheduled, by law, to be voted on by last Tuesday in the state House of Representatives and then sent over to the state Senate. Instead it has languished in the House Appropriations Committee while lawmakers worked out a compromise. They reached agreement Monday morning, unanimously approving the budget bill and moving it along to the House floor, where it could get an up or down vote as early as Tuesday, but more likely on Wednesday.  What held things up in the Appropriations Committee was a disagreement between Democrats and Republicans over how much power to give the governor to either cut spending, if revenues don't roll in as expected, or to cut taxes for small businesses if the revenues do come in. Read more


A Roundhouse flap over … gift bags?

From Capitol Report New - There is plenty of heated debate at the Roundhouse as we head into the last 11 days of the 30-day legislative session. But one odd source of irritation for one state senator concerned … gift bags that legislators received last week in connection with American Indian Day at the state capitol. Sen. Lynda Lovejoy (D-Crownpoint) was upset about the gift bags given to lawmakers by the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry (NAPI) to showcase their production and growing potential of native commerce. She didn’t have a problem with NAPI but with what was found inside the bag. She even sent out a news release about it: What was extremely troubling was that in each bag there was a post card of the Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly and Vice President Rex Lee Jim with their pictures on the front of the card. This gave the impression that it was the Navajo Nation President and Vice President were involved in the generous work of presenting the gift bags, and it also gave the impression as if Navajo Nation president, Ben Shelly, is still in a campaign mode. It was promotional, and not relevant to the business of the legislature…Read more


NM regulators repeal carbon cap and trade rules

Environmental Improvement Board Feb 6, 2012
From the Santa Fe New - by Susan Montoya Bryan, AP, - New Mexico’s participation in a regional cap and trade program aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions became more unlikely Monday with a unanimous vote by state regulators. The decision by the Environmental Improvement Board to repeal the cap and trade rules came in response to petitions filed by New Mexico’s largest electric utilities, oil and gas developers and others who feared the rules would push businesses and jobs to neighboring states. Gov. Susana Martinez, a critic of regulating carbon emissions at the state level, was pleased with the board’s decision, spokesman Scott Darnell said. “This is a regulation that failed to pass the Legislature and was instead rushed through without sufficient science, with even some proponents admitting that it wouldn’t have a tangible positive impact on the environment,” Darnell said. “It was a regulation that threatened jobs and would have burdened our families with higher energy costs.” Members of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association agreed, saying it was bad public policy for New Mexico to unilaterally take on an issue that is global in scope. Environmentalists said they weren’t surprised by the board’s decision given that Martinez had appointed all new members to the panel when she took office last year. Read more

Appeal delays Murphy trial

From NM - by Heath Haussamen - Third Judicial District Judge Mike Murphy’s bribery trial had been scheduled for early February, but a judge has put the case on hold while the Court of Appeals considers whether to reinstate a misdemeanor charge. In September, Judge Leslie Smith dropped the misdemeanor charge of violating the Governmental Conduct Act. The act states that it is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. But Smith ruled that the portion under which Murphy is charged is not a criminal statute because it is too vague to make clear what conduct it prohibits. Special prosecutor Matt Chandler has appealed, arguing that the Legislature intended that the statute, which requires that a public officer “conduct himself in a manner that justifies the confidence placed in him by the people, at all times maintaining the integrity and discharging ethically the high responsibilities of public service,” be punishable with prison time and a fine. The Court of Appeals is currently considering the issue. In November, Smith put the trial on hold pending the appellate court’s decision. Read more


All those billions, blowing in the wind

Marita Noon
On February 1, an urgent alert was sent to supporters of wind energy. It stated: “The PTC is the primary policy tool to promote wind energy development and manufacturing in the United States. While it is set to expire at the end of 2012 ... the credit has already effectively expired. Congress has a choice to make: extend the PTC this month and keep the wind industry on track...” The wind energy industry has reason for concern. America's appetite for subsidies has waned. Congress is looking for any way it can to make cuts, and the twenty-year old Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy is in prime position for a cut. It naturally expires at the end of 2012. Without action, it will go away.
The payroll tax extension will be a hot topic over the next few weeks as it expires on February 29. Wind energy supporters are pushing to get the PTC extension included in the bill. Whether or not it is included will be largely up to public response. After all, regarding the PTC's inclusion in the payroll tax extension bill, the February 1 alert stated: “our federal legislators heard us loud and clear.” In the December payroll tax bill negotiations, the wind energy PTC was placed on a “short list of provisions to be extended through that bill.” Wind supporters are worried—hence the rallying cry.
Due to a deteriorating market, Vestas, the world's largest manufacturer of industrial wind turbines, is closing a plant and laying off workers. Everyday citizens, armed with real life information gleaned from the wind energy's decades-long history, are shocking lobbyists and killing back room deals by successfully blocking the development of industrial wind plants in their communities. As it becomes widely known that actual wind energy contracts are coming in at three and four times the cost of traditionally generated electricity, and natural gas prices continue to drop due to its newfound abundance, states are looking to abandon the renewable energy mandates pushed through in a different economic time and a different political era. American Wind Energy Association spokesman Peter Kelley reports: “Industry-wide we are seeing a slowdown in towers and turbines after 2012 that is rippling down the supply chain, and the big issue is lack of certainty around the production credit that gives a favorable low tax rate to renewable energy.” All of this spells trouble for the wind energy industry. Read rest of the column here: News New Mexico


U.S. Government Borrows Money to Count Wolves

The Albuquerque Journal is reporting that the Mexican gray wolf population in southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico grew by 16 percent in 2011.
Amazingly, in an era of massive federal budget deficits and a global debt crisis, the U.S. government is borrowing money to fund the Fish and Wildlife Service efforts to count 58 wolves.
Bureaucrats estimated there was an increase of 50 livestock killing predators in 2010. The Center for Biological Diversity’s Michael Robinson said that it has been nine years since the number of Mexican gray wolves counted grew for two consecutive years. Read the story in the Journal here (subscription required): News New Mexico