Legislature Approves Anti-Corruption Proposal

From KOATA proposal is heading to Gov. Susana Martinez to toughen penalties for elected officials convicted of public corruption.
The measure allows for a fine equal to the salary, pension and other fringe benefits paid to the official from the time the crime occurred. The fine would be in addition to any prison sentence imposed for a felony conviction for corruption.
Former state Treasurer Robert Vigil continued to receive his government pension despite being convicted in 2006 of attempted extortion.
The bill won final approval in the Legislature on Monday when it unanimously passed the House. The bill previously cleared the Senate. Read full story here: News New Mexico.


Pearce: Obama Budget.....a Job Killer

Congressman Steve Pearce responded to the President's budget today in a news release.
Washington, DC (February 13, 2012) Today, Congressman Steve Pearce issued the following statement in response to the President's budget:
Steve Pearce
"While the President and I can find common ground on the need to extend the payroll tax cuts, I do not support the fact that his plan calls for more government spending up front," Pearce said. "His idea of job creation is to support government funded jobs, instead of to reduce the regulatory and tax burdens on small business owners, allowing them to create jobs. The government does not create jobs; hard working Americans do. As we work through this, I will fight to ensure that New Mexico's recovery and job creation is not harmed."
President Obama's budget includes provisions that would be detrimental to some of New Mexico's most prosperous industries. According to page 33 of his budget, the President is proposing “charging appropriate fees and reforming how royalties are set” for mineral development industries. The President’s budget outlines these royalties and fees, as charging new royalties on “select hardrock minerals” and “charging user fees to oil companies for processing oil and gas drilling permits,” which would affect New Mexico jobs.
In response to these royalties and other proposals within the budget, Pearce said, “The President is continuing his attack on hardworking Americans and job creators, just to spend more on his failed economic policies, social welfare programs and clean energy incentives that go to his campaign contributors and his friends. Additionally, he is taking money away from rural hospitals, cutting retirement funds to the American heroes who put their lives on the line and taking money away from farmers who grow healthy foods in order to provide ‘healthier foods’ to school children. Once again, we see that his policies don’t add up, and his ideas are gravely flawed.”


Assault on Skandera Comes From Entrenched Interests of the Educational Bureacracy

The evidence is mounting that the party in charge of public education in New Mexico for eighty-plus years has sent out an army of entrenched status quo stakeholders to launch a full scale professional assassination attack on the Governor's Public Education nominee, Hanna Skandera. Consider these coincidences:
A thinly disguised op-ed piece recently released points to the fact that our vaunted Washington D.C. education bureaucracy doesn’t seem to care much for Hanna. And because those who maintain perhaps the most useless money wasting department in U.S. government history don’t like our Governor’s choice for education secretary, she should be rejected? Many people would suggest this revelation in itself is a ringing endorsement.
Next you can toss in the results of an “anonymous” survey conducted by a lifelong member of New Mexico’s ruling educational junta. In this agenda driven “survey” it was suggested the anonymous respondents revealed anonymously that superintendents wishing to remain anonymous don’t like Hanna. Did I mention this piece was done anonymously?
Suddenly the room where the entrenched educational bureaucracy conducts its strategic planning sessions is starting to really stink.
Next we would be remiss if we did not mention the mixing in of a few barbed comments from trial lawyer and Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez. Sanchez suggests that because Skandera never taught school she has no aptitude for reforming education. What a coincidence. Sanchez never taught school either. He has just watched education get run into the ground with the help of his entrenched cronies for quite awhile.
It is safe to say we have enough circumstantial evidence to suggest activist members of education's status quo crowd will do anything including a concerted multi-pronged assault on Hanna Skandera to preclude the state from adopting and implementing meaningful reforms.
What do all of the contrived gripes against Skandera seem to be? They can all be summarized in one sentence. Somehow, because Skandera wants to approach education reforms based on policies that have worked like a charm in other areas, she is very likely to take away some of the wasteful processes (and money plums) that benefit New Mexico adults who draw education system paychecks. Who cares what works, hang her from the highest tree! And I say that anonymously of course.


Chesapeake Selling NM Oil and Gas Fields

CEO Aubrey McClendon
(Bloomberg) -- Chesapeake Energy Corp., the second- biggest U.S. natural-gas producer, is seeking as much as $12 billion from assets sales and joint ventures to cope with a cash crunch amid rising debt and tumbling gas prices.

The company expects to get $10 billion to $12 billion from transactions including the potential sale of all its oil and gas fields in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico, Chesapeake said in a statement today. The Oklahoma City-based company expects to receive about $2 billion in the next 60 days from two separate transactions involving advance sales of output in Texas and Oklahoma. Read full story here: News New Mexico

The penalties of feel-good energy policies

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Because of the unproven notion that burning fossil fuels causes global warming, saving energy has become the cultural norm with the expectation that reducing the use of coal-fueled electricity and gasoline will help everyone. More and more wind and solar generation is being installed and cars use less and less gas, with some being all-electric. This should be a good thing, but it ends up costing everyone—and disproportionately penalizes the poor. Installing an unsubsidized residential solar photovoltaic (PV) system is expensive and the payoff can be decades. As a result, they are typically purchased by only those with substantial disposable income. A few years ago, I participated in a “solar fiesta.” I live in rural New Mexico where we often have snow on the ground from late October through early March. Due to cost, I only heat my home to 58 degrees in the winter. I have a large south-facing roof surface. I figured I was a prime candidate for a solar PV system. I visited different vendors. When I asked about the payoff, one vendor looked down his nose and emphasized: “It is not about the payoff.” I could not afford to go solar. I still burn pellets in my stove and bundle up all winter.
Those, who can afford the up-front costs to take advantage of the free energy from the sun, can avoid paying their utility company anything. They may even feel smug that they have beat the system. With net metering, when they generate extra power, the meter may literally spin backward. When the sun isn’t shining, they use the power they’ve banked. The end of the month total can balance out.
However, there are still costs to the electric company. The usage is still monitored. The home, or business, is still tied to the grid. The wires and other system services require maintenance and those costs are factored into the per-kilowatt-hour price and are borne by all the rate payers. But what happens when the wealthy few, who have the luxury of installing a solar system, no longer contribute to the communal cost of service? The overall cost must be spread to a smaller pool of users, which means rate increases for everyone—except those who are getting “free” electricity from the sun. Read rest of column here: News New Mexico

Mexico Arrests Key Figure in Fast and Furious

From biggovernment.com - The suspect is Jose Antonio Torres Marrufo aka “El Marrufo” or “El Jaguar.” He was the head of la Gente Nueva in Chihuahua and the Sinaloa cartel’s top man in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s most dangerous city. He was also wanted in the US for drug trafficking and the recipient of high powered weapons from Operation Fast and Furious. He owned the home that was raided in April 2011 that had the guns from Fast & Furious.  More News New Mexico

Obama's 2012 Budget: Hoping for a Better Reception

NewsNM note (Spence) - At this time last year, the Obama debt commission had made its recommendations. President Obama ignored most of the suggestions and submitted his budget proposal to the Senate. The President's package was defeated 97-0, with not a single member of his own party voteing for his budget. No budget bill was ever passed in 2011 though Republican budget proposals did get many votes in both the House and the Senate. Now President Obama takes his 2012 budget to the Senate.   Fox News  - President Obama is offering his spending blueprint for the next decade -- an election-year document that seeks to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction through cuts in government spending, higher taxes and inclusion of last year's debt-ceiling deal for deficit reduction.
At the same time, Obama will ask for substantial spending increases on infrastructure and job training, but will offer few reforms to entitlement programs, which take up 40 percent of the annual federal budget.
Republicans, who are vowing to oppose Obama's tax increases, have planned several events Monday to counter the president's release. On Sunday House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said the president's proposal is full of gimmicks and does little to reduce the deficit or curb the rapid growth of benefit programs like Medicare. "Medicare is going bankrupt ... The president's health care law takes the $500 billion from Medicare to spend on Obamacare," he said. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Seante Passes ERB Reform Bill

The New Mexico State Senate passed a bill to help make the Education Retirement Board retirement fund (ERB) for employees of public schools and universities solvent. Due to lack of funding and an unsustainable benefit structure the fund will be insolvent in less than 30 years without major changes. The substitute bill for SB 150- Educational Retirement Changes- makes primarily three adjustments.
Stuart Ingle
1) It requires both public schools and universities and their employees to gradually contribute more out of each paycheck to the retirement fund over the next seven years. On a graduating scale until 2020, employees will contribute 3.4% more of their salary into their retirement fund and the schools would contribute 2.5% more into the fund.
2) The bill will also create for the first time the minimum retirement age of 55 to receive retirement benefits for those starting to work after this July. Now, a person could start receiving retirement pay as early as age 45 if they had started working at age 20
3) The bill requires eight years of service to be vest compared to five years for employees who start after this July.
The legislation is sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle (R-Portales) who said, “The changes have to be done for the good of our hard working school teachers and university personnel so they will receive the retirement they have worked so diligently for. Without these changes, the money will run out and won’t be there for the future.” The contribution changes will affect all public education employees. The bill passed 30 to 12.


What the Hay, First Bill Arrives on Gov's Desk

Santa Fe—Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle’s hay bill is the first bill,(outside of the feed bill that pays for the session), to pass both houses and to be placed on the Governor’s desk for her action. Senator Ingle said, “Perhaps being the first bill to pass both houses this session can spotlight how important this hay bill is to solving a huge problem for all New Mexicans,” Senator Ingle said. “This bill is especially important for the dairy industry in Southeastern New Mexico that has struggled to feed its livestock because of the extreme drought in recent years.”
Hay in recent years has had to be hauled in from other states and as far as Canada creating challenges to the agriculture industry. Senator Ingle’s bill will allow oversized hay loads, that will not forego highway safety, to be transported on state highways.
“On behalf of the agriculture industry, I am hopeful the governor will sign this bill quickly so it can take effect immediately with its emergency clause,” Senator Ingle said. Ingle also said, “The point here is to make it easier to haul hay.”

One PRC Reform gets Committee OK

NMPolitics - A proposal to move the Corporations Division of the Public Regulation Commission to the Secretary of State’s office passed the Senate Rules Committee today by a unanimous vote.
The Secretary of State’s Office supported the measure (HJR 16), which is perceived by many to be the least controversial of the three pieces of reform being pushed by Think New Mexico.
It must now pass the Judiciary Committee before it can be heard on the Senate floor. Senate passage of the joint resolution would mean a constitutional amendment would appear on the ballot in the November general election. The Legislature would have the opportunity to decide the final details during the 2013 session. Read full story here: News New Mexico