Senator Burt legislation signed by Gov Martinez

State Senator Bill Burt
From the Alamogordo Daily News - SANTA FE -- Gov. Susana Martinez said she righted a wrong Wednesday by signing a bill that expands New Mexico's definition of military veterans. The measure will enable the state to offer a small break on property taxes to those who served for at least six consecutive years in National Guard or military reserve units, even if they were never called to active duty by the U.S. government. Previous state law restricted the veterans' tax benefit. Those who had not served 90 consecutive days on active duty did not qualify, Martinez said. Martinez signed the bill at National Guard headquarters before a few hundred soldiers, all of them cheering. She said the state's old system of defining veterans could have slighted service members who helped fight the Las Conchas fire that burned 150,000 acres last summer, or those who helped northern New Mexicans displaced during the unseasonably cold winter of 2011. "In my mind, these heroes have always been veterans," Martinez said. Sen. Bill Burt, R-Alamogordo, sponsored the bill broadening the definition of veterans. For Burt, appointed to the Senate by Martinez 13 months ago, it was his first bill to be signed into law.  He said a constituent in the Las Cruces area called his attention to the problem of differing treatment for who served in the military but were not on active duty. Read more


N.M. Title Co. Check Paid for Broncos Suite

From -A New Mexico Title Co. check for $132,880 went to pay for an executive suite at the Denver Broncos' football stadium, according to court records.  Court filings in the New Mexico Financial Institution Division's investigation into the company include a copy of a $132,880 check from New Mexico Title Co. to Stadium Management Co. for an executive suite at the Denver Broncos' football stadium. A license agreement for the suite is signed by Bobby Willis, a former owner of New Mexico Title Co. and current owner of New Mexico Title Escrow, according to his attorneys. The significance of the check, dated April 20, 2010, is not explained in court documents. Santa Fe attorney John W. Day, representing the owners of New Mexico Title Escrow, laid the blame for the business' disarray on a former employee, Shannon Strunk.  More News New Mexico

How Israel Keeps Us Safe

From -What has Israel done for us? The two most important areas of 21st-century warfare are electronics and cyberspace. Israel is the world leader in both those areas. Because we are mutual allies, Israel shares its knowledge and equipment with us. We would not be as far ahead in military technology, security, intelligence, or counter-terrorism without this crucial strategic alliance.  Compare the benefits of our alliance with Israel to the things we get from our allies in Europe. Europe has chosen to take advantage of us, depending on our taxpayers to protect theirs. They use us for a free ride. Britain supports us, but has no great military budget anymore. Their modern weapons systems depend on us. There is no broad two-way street.  Our alliance with Israel is not only broad and mutual, but it is essential. Drones? Israel is the world leader in the development of unmanned aerial systems, including drones (invented by an Israeli) for intelligence collection and combat, and has shared with the U.S. military technology, doctrine, and vital experience.  Think of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We use an Israeli-produced tactical radar system to enhance force protection. Israel is "a global pacesetter in active measures for armored vehicle protection," which we use to save our soldiers' lives.  More News New Mexico

Swickard: The need to please lost on two pharmacies

Commentary by Michael Swickard, Ph.D. - Many Americans wonder how our healthcare will change with ObamaCare. Yes, it is generally assumed that somehow someone will kill that bad-boy of an idea. What if it does not get killed? What if our country finds only government workers to talk to when our head hurts? Oh, my. At the coffee shop there is consensus it will be a disaster for those who do not enjoy being under the thumb of government. When I deal with the government it is always on the terms of the government. I have yet to find a government agency that cares what I think. I do what they tell me, or else. When governments run something it ceases to be user friendly. Government entities seem to view citizens as “giving units” who must interface with the government. Occasionally they say, “We serve the public” but with fingers crossed. Private companies can also be user-unfriendly as I will document. It is different with for profit insurance companies and pharmacies, I suspect it will get worse when people cannot change pharmacies upon being angered. Examples of moving that direction are two scuffles I had at two different pharmacies this last week. Both times I walked out shaking my head, wondering what it is about handling drugs makes some people so stupid. I have written on this topic a couple of times and am still amazed at how badly things are going now before the government gets its hands on the heartbeat of health. Read column


Another Anchor suspended - this time for Danica comment

NASCAR driver Danica Patrick
From - A sports anchor in San Diego will have some extra time to think about his next story after being suspended one week for comments made on the air about NASCAR driver Danica Patrick. KSWB-TV anchor Ross Shimabuku landed in hot water with station executives after saying he would describe the female racing star with a word that "starts with a B and it's not beautiful." The comment came last week as the anchor discussed a clip of Patrick talking to reporters ahead of the Daytona 500. "Danica Patrick is such a pretty girl, and she makes a lot of money in sponsorships because of it. But what's not attractive is that she's sexy and she knows it," Shimabuku said. The station then aired footage of a Patrick interview, in which she asked, "I don't quite understand why, when you're referring to a girl — a female athlete in particular — that you have to use the word 'sexy.' Is there any other word you can use to describe me?" "Oh, I got a few words," Shimabuku said as the action returned to the studio. "Starts with a B and it's not beautiful." Shimabuku was red-flagged one week without pay for the on-air comments, KSWB-TV acknowledged Tuesday via its Twitter account. Shimabuku issued a statement saying, "I truly apologize if I offended anyone by those comments. "They were not meant to be an attack on Danica. I think she's great for the sport." story

‘Religious Liberty’ Rally in Las Cruces Saturday

Albuquerque Journal - Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M.; state Rep. Yvette Harrell, R-Alamogordo; and Dona Ana County District Attorney Amy Orlando are among the elected officials who are reported to take part in a “religious liberty” rally scheduled for 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Genevieve’s Monument on the 200 block of Church Street in Las Cruces, according to a news release from the Traditional Values Action Committee. Other confirmed speakers for the Southern New Mexico March; Rally To Protect Constitutional Rights and Religious Freedom are, according to the release, John Loudat of the New Mexico Southern Baptist Convention and editor of the Baptist New Mexican; Pastor Mike Skidmore; Dr. Tony Levatino, an OB/GYN and former abortion provider turned anti-abortion advocate; healthcare provider Angie Carver; Richard Cheney of the Traditional Values Action Committee; and Teresa Miranda of Catholic Youth. The rally was inspired by the recent decision by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s requirement that religious institutions provide birth-control insurance coverage to their employees despite the religious beliefs of those institutions, according to the news release.


N.M. Bataan Death March Survivors Dwindling

From -The horrific memories have faded but not disappeared for Clovis' Alvin Fails, one of a dwindling number of area Bataan death march survivors.  Telling his story from an easy chair, in which he now spends most of his days, the 95-year-old Fails recalled clearly the starvation rations on which he barely survived for almost four years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp called O'Donnell. "They would cook rice and keep the white parts for themselves, and only feed us the juice," Fails said.  More News New Mexico

PNM Set To Release Earnings

From -New Mexico's largest electric provider is set to release its earnings report for the latest quarter as environmental groups accused the provider of pushing for rate hikes and higher profits.  Public Service Company of New Mexico is scheduled to release its earnings Wednesday. The company says that it has spent millions of dollars each year to provide customers with "reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible energy."  But five nonprofit groups, including the Sierra Club and the San Juan Citizens Alliance, say PNM is paying executives increased compensation while rate payers are struggling.  More News New Mexico

Navajo Sues Urban Outfitters Over Product Names

From -The Navajo Nation has sued Urban Outfitters Inc. months after the tribe sent a cease and desist letter to the clothing retailer demanding it pull the "Navajo" name from its products. The lawsuit filed late Tuesday in U.S. District Court in New Mexico alleges trademark violations and violations of the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which makes it illegal to sell arts or crafts in a way to falsely suggest they're made by American Indians when they're not.  The tribe has about 10 registered trademarks on the Navajo name that cover clothing, footwear, online retail sales, household products and textiles. Tribal justice officials said they're intent on protecting what they believe are among the tribe's most valuable assets.  More News New Mexico

Conrad James Stays Put

Conrad James
Capitol Report New Mexico State Rep. Conrad James (R-Albuquerque) told Capitol Report New Mexico Wednesday morning (Feb. 29) that he won’t run for the state Senate and, instead, run for re-election in District 24 in the state’s House of Representatives. Back on Monday, James told Capitol Report he was considering running for the state Senate to replace Republican Mark Boitano, who has announced that he is stepping down from the Senate after 16 years. “I’m pleased to announce that I will be running for re-election to House District 24,” Rep. James said in a text message. “Even though my new district is significantly less Republican, I believe that my message of economic freedom and personal responsibility will resonate with New Mexican voters across the political spectrum.” Under the latest redistricting map put forth by Judge Jim Hall, District 24 will go from a Republican-leaning district to one that is just about an equal 50-50 split between likely Republican and Democratic voters. James is finishing up his second year in the House. He replaced fellow Republican Janice Arnold-Jones, who served the district in the Northeast Heights for eight years. James ran unopposed in the 2010 election. Read More News New Mexico


Guantanamo detainees get new $750G soccer field

Guantanamo Bay 
FoxNews - At a time of record deficits, a new soccer field for detainees at Camp 6 in Guantanamo Bay is just getting the finishing touches -- at a cost of $750,000 to taxpayers. The project was the highlight of a tour Tuesday of the detention camp for reporters at the facility covering the arraignment in a military court of Majid Khan, a former Baltimore resident and the the only legal U.S. resident on trial at Guantanamo. The project began in April 2011 and is due to finish this spring. The detainees will now have three recreation facilities at Camp 6, which is home to "highly compliant" detainees who live in a communal setting. In addition to an indoor recreation field and the existing outdoor recreation field, the new soccer field -- selected because it is such a popular sport with detainees -- is half the size of an American football field. Read More News New Mexico


Watchdog Finds Lobbyist Laws Broken

New Mexico Watchdog - The law was broken. Campaign contributions were misrepresented. The names on checks lobbyists hand legislators often are not the names lobbyists report to the state. One lobbyist gave $7,500 to various unnamed legislators on behalf of a fireworks company. Bills that could have restricted sale of fireworks during high-risk fire seasons stalled in committees – just months after the state suffered its worst wildfire in history.
Fireworks makers, firefighters’ unions and most Americans are free to contribute – within limits – to candidates who run for state offices in New Mexico. Limits to that freedom include prohibitions against quid pro quo – politicians can’t trade favors for campaign contributions.
New Mexico legislators have passed laws that promise the public access to enough information to see whether such illegal or unethical transactions take place. Those laws aren’t working as they were intended. Based on available public data it’s impossible to connect the dots to know if the fireworks distributor contributed to legislators who let the bill die in committees.
That lobbyist who failed to itemize recipients of campaign contributions broke a law, a spokesperson for Secretary of State Dianna Duran wrote in an e-mail on Monday. Scores of lobbyists who incorrectly completed lobbyists’ disclosure forms likely broke the same law, a Watchdog investigation revealed. Read full story here: News New Mexico


Western States Explain How Washington D.C. Has Become a Jobs Destroying Machine

Steve Pearce
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Senate Western Caucus Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY), Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Steve Pearce (R-NM), Hearing Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Members of the Senate and Congressional Western Caucuses hosted a bicameral hearing entitled “Washington Barriers to Prosperity and Property Rights in the West.”

Caucus Members and witnesses, including Idaho Governor Butch Otter and Mike and Chantell Sackett of Idaho, examined the Obama Administration’s environmental and natural resource policies and their negative impact on jobs, economic growth and private property rights in western states and communities.
“Since Obama’s inauguration in 2009, gas prices have doubled, unemployment has increased, and our national debt has skyrocket. Today, we heard from people across the West who feel the pain of this administration’s indifference. Whether from an elected official focused on helping their state, county or town succeed, a fourth generation farmer trying to pass down the family farm a little better than he found it, or just a couple trying to build a home, we heard example after example of our federal government getting in the way of the American dream. The West and the rest of our country deserves better.”
- U.S. Representative Steve Pearce (R-NM), Congressional Western Caucus Chairman
“Often the voice of the West is lost among the powerful special interests that comprise the environmental lobby and their allies in this Administration. Every day these witnesses face aggressive bureaucratic red tape and litigation that cost thousands of jobs. The quality of life in America’s western and rural areas depends on policies that promote economic growth, not constrain it. Principles such as protecting private property rights, supporting limited government, advocating for local control, and protecting the multiple use of our public lands, are essential to achieving that economic growth.” Read rest of story here: News New Mexico


Duke City Extends Impact Fee Moratorium

NewsNM note - With horrendus unemployment rates in the construction industry New Mexico's two largest cities take the opposite approach to so called "impact fees." Albuquerque tried them and made the determination they were bad for jobs. Progressives have fought to revive them and a "study" has been ordered. Las Cruces came along later and instituted impact fees after they had failed elsewhere.
New Mexico Business Journal - Albuquerque has extended the moratorium that reduced impact fees on new construction for at least eight more months and, perhaps, as much as one year.
The Albuquerque City Council voted last week to maintain the impact fee moratorium until a study on their affect can be completed by consultant Duncan Associates. That study is expected to be completed in another eight to 12 months. The fees are reduced by 100 percent for certifiable green building projects and 50 percent for non-sustainable green building projects. The fees have been in affect since 2009, when the construction industry lobbied the city to reduce fees as an incentive to create more building projects. Read full story here: News New Mexico