Skandera has something in common with US Sec of Ed

Hanna Skandera
From Capitol Report New Mexico - On the eve of a crucial confirmation hearing in the Senate Rules Committee, opponents of Hanna Skandera have based some of their criticism of the would-be secretary of the Public Education Department on the grounds that she has never been employed as a classroom teacher. But neither has current U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
     In fact, a review by New Mexico Watchdog shows that only two former heads of the country’s education department have K-12 teaching experience and only one served as a faculty member on the university level. Skandera’s confirmation hearing has gripped the Roundhouse as a political showdown shapes up between Skandera, who has served for two years as the secretary-designate and close advisor to Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, and Democrats who have clashed with education reform measures Skandera and the governor have been pushing.
According to the New Mexico Constitution, the leader of the PED must be a “qualified, experienced educator.”
But Skandera has never worked as a teacher or administrator at a K-12 public school. “I don’t think we should close our eyes to that issue,” Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, has said on a number of occasions. Read more

Rich is ever so much better than poor

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. It’s better to be rich. - Gertrude Stein
     Picture all of the rich folks in Congress looking into news cameras and talking loudly about the evils of rich people in society. Does anyone else think it strange for them to have so much reach and power because of their own wealth yet they trash being rich. Are they that stupid? I think they know that being rich is better.
     In everyday life it is an interesting moment when people smack the rich for being rich and do so with a lottery ticket in their pocket. They malign the rich but have dreams of riches when they look at their lottery ticket. Is it more honorable to be made rich by chance? Is it different than if we are made wealthy by the sweat of our brow? Need I say that for every rich person made by the lottery there are thousands upon thousands of rich people made rich by their own efforts?
     How do people become rich? Most, but not all are made rich by a liberal application of preparation, inspiration and perspiration. Most people in our society who become rich spend decades becoming an overnight success. Most are lucky to get good instruction as children. Know this: most are wealthy because they do the right things, not the wrong.
     Seems some people think that rich is a four letter word. Well, it is, but most people aspire to be rich. Most rich people become so by trading things of value for money. Most cannot cheat their way into riches. A few do, but the majority of the cheaters are exposed and at times incarcerated. Trading fairly is a better way of becoming wealthy than trying to find suckers. Of course, the wealthy get envied for their wealth.
     In discussing the rich we need to find a functional description of being rich. For some there is never enough money. They may look rich but to me they are not. The people who do not worry about money are quite rich. When I was five years old I was given a five dollar bill for my birthday and could not spend all of it in the local mercantile. I bought all I wanted and had money left over. It was the richest I have ever been. Read column

The top trending things people are stealing

From - By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4  - NBC News found some bizarre items that police are seeing as trending hot items to steal.
9. Truck tailgates. Many people have reported the tailgate to their truck stolen only to find it being sold on Craigslist.
8. Cloth napkins. Some restaurant owners report their patrons steal their cloth napkins. One restaurant chain owner reported that he replaces thousands of cloth napkins across his locations each year.
7. Maple Syrup. As the cost of 100 percent pure maple syrup rises, more people are stealing the pricey product. In New Mexico 12 ounces of maple syrup will cost about $9.
6. Paving Stones. Anyone who has bought paving stones for a driveway or patio knows the pricey cost of bricks. Some neighborhoods in England have reported a mass theft of pavers leaving many in a neighborhood without a driveway.
5. Hay. Droughts have forced the cost of hay to skyrocket. Because of an increased number of hay thefts, farmers and ranchers have begun securing their piles of hay in barns of secure areas.
4. Gold teeth. As unusual as it sounds, police across the country have reported instances where funeral home workers have extracted teeth out of corpses and tried selling the gold at pawn shops or gold buyers.
3. Human hair. A beauty supply store in Chicago lost $230 worth of hair extensions. Police believe thieves resell the hair to other salons or on the street.
2. Chicken wings. With the rising cost of poultry in the U.S, grocery stores report a rise in shoplifting of chicken, particularly chicken wings.
1. Tide detergent. Police call it “liquid gold.” The high price of laundry detergent has many shoplifting the product then reselling it on the black market. Read more

State Senator Lee Cotter Op-Ed

Commentary by State Senator Lee Cotter, District 36 - Not a Prediction, a Guarantee: State Loses Greatly if SB 547 Ruins New Mexico’s Oil and Gas Industry
     This will do it. SB 547 will ruin New Mexico’s oil and gas industry. It is more than a prediction, it is a guarantee. SB 547 prohibits the oil and gas industry from being able to produce the tax revenue our state so heavily depends on. The industry provides upwards of 30% of the revenue our state relies on to fund schools, roads, public safety and healthcare.
     SB 547 prohibits hydraulic fracturing in horizontally drilled wells. Currently, a vast majority of the oil and gas comes from hydraulic fracturing. If this technology is banned in horizontal wells by SB 547, the bill kills the economic future of New Mexico. SB 547 will eliminate nearly all of the drilling in New Mexico and any future drilling. New production will not take place. Companies with high paying jobs will close down, companies with even higher paying won’t consider relocating here. There will be reduced future production to tax to pay for schools, roads, public safety and healthcare.
     The bill, sponsored by Senator William Soules of Las Cruces, is being presented by a Senator with little knowledge of the oil patch areas of New Mexico. I appeal to those New Mexicans who understand that New Mexico cannot afford to lose these revenues. Our state has barely begun a recovery from the recent hard times and we cannot afford to lose any revenues now or in the future. Consider the number of private industry high-paying and middle income jobs that will be lost if this industry is shut down. That takes personal income tax right out of the state's coffers as well.
     This bill is on the calendar for Senate Conservation. If it passes, kiss goodbye the 30,000 high paying jobs directly attributed to oil and gas activity in the state. Kiss goodbye funding for schools, roads, public safety and healthcare in the state. Kiss goodbye our economic future.
Senator Lee S. Cotter - Room 416C State Capitol Building

State spends $100k on Governor's mansion kitchen

Governor's Mansion

The state spent more than $100,000 last summer to renovate the public kitchen at the governor’s mansion in Santa Fe, according to officials and purchase orders. 
While the upgrades included new countertops, floors and appliances, the project also included a $2,700 built-in, state-of-the-art coffeemaker the governor’s office later decided will be paid for with private donations rather than with taxpayer funds. 
The governor’s residence was built in the 1950s and features a public wing and private wing. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and her husband live in the smaller, cozier private wing that has its own kitchen, living room and bedrooms.
 The public side of the mansion plays host to state dinners honoring visiting leaders and dignitaries, as well as private events put on by non-profit organizations.
 Caterers mainly use the kitchen. 


Lawmakers approve 17 year old voters

Some 17-year-old New Mexicans could vote in primary elections under a proposal approved by the House. 
The measure will allow 17-year-olds to vote in a primary election — or a political party's caucus or other contest for selecting a presidential nominee — if they will be 18 by the time of the November general election. 
Democratic Rep. Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces said 19 other states have similar provisions. The state's June primary election decides party nominees for elective offices. 
The bill passed the House on a 44-24 vote on Monday, and goes to the Senate.


House approves more funding for horse drug testing

New Mexico lawmakers have approved a proposal to finance more testing of race horses to detect illegal drug use. 
The House unanimously approved a measure on Monday to pay for stricter testing with revenue from a tax on pari-mutuel wagering at horse racing tracks.
The proposal, which goes to the Senate, will provide about $700,000 a year for testing by the State Racing Commission. The measure will tap revenue that's helped finance improvements at the state fairgrounds, which is the site of a race track. 
The fairgrounds money ends in 2014 under current law and the legislation shifts it to drug testing in 2015. The push for more testing came after a New York Times story described New Mexico as having the nation's worst horse safety record.


Wall Street Walks on the White House

Commentary by Marita Noon - The nomination of Jack Lew for Treasury Secretary has uncovered a lot of dirt about the man, but it also has a lot of dust swirling, regarding the incestuous relationship between the Obama administration and Wall Street that the White House would probably prefer to have kept buried. The story surely tarnishes the President’s image as “a man of the people, standing up to Wall Street.” In Lew we find much of what President Obama publicly derides—but, as Forbes reports, is “prepared to accept from his closest associates.”
In 2009, Obama said it was the “height of irresponsibility” and “shameful” for “executives at major financial firms who turned to the American people, hat in hand, when they were in trouble, even as they paid themselves their customary lavish bonuses.” And added: “For top executives to award themselves these kinds of compensation packages in the midst of this economic crisis isn’t just bad taste—it’s bad strategy—and I will not tolerate it as President.” Yet, Lew, during a short stint at Citi received an “obscene” bonus of $950,000—after we, the taxpayers, bailed out Citi to the tune of $476.2 billion. In 2012, the Obama campaign vilified Mitt Romney for investments in Cayman accounts. Yet, Lew was invested in a Citigroup venture capital fund registered in the Cayman Islands.
In his second term, Obama has pledged to make climate change a priority. Since 2007, Citi has been committed to “climate change activities.” In fact, they brag about being “a leader in alternative energy transactions across sectors, geographies and products.” In its 2011 Global Citizenship Report, Citi crows about having the “largest market share” of US Department of Energy financings for alternative energy.
If you’ve followed the work Lakatos and I have done exposing Obama’s green-energy crony-corruption scandal, you know Citi’s claims mean that they are making big bucks from the green energy sector of the 2009 stimulus-spending spree. Lakatos has found that that 58 percent of Citi’s “clients,” listed in the documents from the “Renewable Energy Seminar” Michael Eckhart held in March 2012, have received government subsidies, the majority from the 2009 Stimulus bill, totaling approximately $16 billion of taxpayer money—and there could well be more.
This may be the one time I agree with Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who, said the following when Obama nominated Lew: “I remain extremely concerned that virtually all of his key economic advisers have come from Wall Street. In my view, we need a Treasury Secretary who is prepared to stand up to corporate America and their powerful lobbyists and fight for policies that protect the working families in our country. I do not believe Mr. Lew is that person.” Obviously Obama will “tolerate” Wall Street walking all over the White House. Read full column


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Concern over internet service to rural areas
Teenage parent leave bill clears House 
ABQ malt shop manager threatens over min. wage


Man turns violent during police sweep

From - by Celina Westervelt - ALBUQUERQUE - After getting multiple complaints about transients harassing people near the historic Frontier Restaurant, police decided to do a sweep in the area but that sweep did not go quite as planned. Police say 32-year-old Darrell Tsosie was hanging out in front of the Frontier late Friday evening when mangers complained he was bugging customers.  They found him highly intoxicated and bleeding on the sidewalk.
     Police say Tsosie gave them a fake name when they questioned him. When they learned of his right name, they found he had warrant for his arrest.  The officer cuffed him but when Tsosie got inside the police car the officer says he started kicking and spitting all over the back seat. That's when the officer tried to cuff his feet, but the officer said Tsosie started kicking him in the stomach and legs. The officer says next Tsosie spit blood on his face getting it in his eyes nose and mouth.
     Eventually another officer stepped in and get Tsosie to calm down. Tsosie appeared before a judge Sunday. He is charged with battery on a police officer and is still in jail Sunday night. Read more

Making sure the least productive get no jobs

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. The legislative mandate is government should get between the buyer and seller and tell both how the seller should be compensated. More so, they tell the buyer that the needs of the seller are paramount even if the transaction is not equally beneficial for the buyer.
     The government has no place in a financial transaction where the knowledge of the trade is equal. In today’s market the trade is for goods called “productivity” and “compensation.” The trade is someone’s productivity for someone’s money. It is a simple trade since both participants get to decide if they want to trade. Both can go forward with the transaction or both can decide not to trade.
     But the government says the problem with the free exercise of trade is that the person with productivity has no leverage. Not so, people with money understand the only way they get more money is by trading money for productivity which fuels commercial enterprises. Productivity is the lifeblood of enterprise. Employers are only as good as their workers.
     The sticking point is when people have no productivity. What are they trading? Further, it is nonsense to think any worker is the same as any other worker. This is a “One size fits all” notion from government. If the people in the government were to be in business they would find out quickly that each potential worker has differing levels of productivity to sell to the employer for money.
     But the government dictates to the buyers of productivity that all workers have the same baseline of productivity whether they actually have any productivity. We employers are told that a fresh-face novice in business with no productive skills must be compensated for productive skills they do not have. Our only other option is to not hire that person. Most of us do not hired people who do not have any productive skills.
     Why would I trade money with someone who does not have something to trade? Worse, I am forced into charity work with the lifeblood of my business, my workforce. As those who know me can attest, I am quite charitable, but I cannot afford to be with my workforce. My workforce is all that is between me and being out of business. The government stops me from making a fair trade for the actual productivity of potential employees. Read more

Spence: Rewarding Financial Illiteracy

Commentary by Jim Spence: There is a sad truth in 21st Century America. The United States is led by people who are financially illiterate. It is also terribly sad that the majority of the U.S. electorate is now also financially illiterate.
     Only widespread financial illiteracy can explain how a corrupt policy of forcing investors seeking safety, to loan their savings to the federal government for less than 1% goes virtually unchallenged. Illiteracy also explains how Americans can hear a proposal calling for the federal government to artificially inflate the value of unskilled labor to $9 per hour (plus all the other taxes and costs associated with making payrolls) without grasping the true consequences of such a childish plan.
     America’s president is portrayed as someone who “feels” deeply for low skill workers by an adoring and financially illiterate news media. His policy of paying near zero interest rates on federal borrowings is falsely portrayed as an effort to “help” the economy. His childish economic policies almost never draw any media scrutiny.
     Evidence of financial illiteracy is everywhere. We live in a popular culture where more people know the identity of reality television stars than the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.
     After decades of coddling self-serving teacher unions and wasteful bureaucrats, the public school system is now saddled with the enormous burden of babysitting the offspring of financial illiterates. And accordingly, not present in most teacher skill sets is the ability to explain why it is so foolish and non-competitive to artificially inflate the value of unskilled labor. Also far from the skills of those in charge of the learning processes in our nation is the idea that when the federal government insists on paying less than 1% for savings…..very few people will bother to save. The consequences of inadequate savings rates are never discussed either.
     How can all of this be taking place in America right under our noses? The answer is pretty simple. The majority of American voters have chosen to become financially illiterate. America has elected a majority of financial illiterates and we have allowed the majority of our children to become financially illiterate. Now the majority of our children’s children have no clue about rational financial behavior either. Read more

NM House approves increasing TV tax incentives

New Mexico lawmakers have approved a proposal to increase tax incentives for television shows filmed in the state. 
Supporters said Wednesday the measure could help draw more TV series to New Mexico. T
he award-winning series "Breaking Bad" is set in Albuquerque and filming a fifth and final season. 
New Mexico offers a 25 percent tax refund for certain film and TV production expenses. Legislation approved unanimously by the House increases the incentive to 30 percent for a TV show producing at least six episodes in New Mexico. A $50 million annual limit remains on the tax subsidies provided for all film and TV projects, but the bill allows unused subsidies below the cap to be carried over to the next year.
The measure heads to the Senate for consideration.


Pete Domenici quiet on fathering a son outside of his marriage

Pete Domenici

Former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico is declining further comment after acknowledging he fathered a son outside his marriage three decades ago. 
The Albuquerque Journal reports that statements released by the Republican and the son's mother, Michelle Laxalt, of Alexandria, Va., identify Domenici as the father of Las Vegas lawyer Adam Paul Laxalt. 
In his statement, he said he is "very sorry" for his behavior and hopes his accomplishments for New Mexico outweigh what he calls his "personal transgression."
 Michelle Laxalt's statement said she and Domenici had agreed to keep his fatherhood secret because he and her father, ex-Nevada Gov. Paul Laxalt, were senators.


ABQ Mayor steers clear of min. wage issues

Mayor Richard Berry says it isn't up to him to enforce the voter-approved ordinance increasing the minimum wage in Albuquerque
The Albuquerque Journal reports that Berry said in a written statement Tuesday that the law gave discretion to the city attorney, not the mayor, to enforce the ordinance. Berry later told the Journal that the city attorney is concerned about stepping into employer-employee disputes that could involve tens of thousands of businesses.
 The debate over carrying out the ordinance sharpened this week when the owner of the Route 66 Malt Shop announced that his employees had signed paperwork agreeing to work at the old, lesser wage. 


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House debates budget bill
ABQ Mayor not getting involved in min. wage
Pete Domenici fathers child out of wedlock 

Gun buyback names released in error

Buy back or sell the pistol, that is the question
NewsNM Swickard - So much for trusting your government, eh? From - SANTA FE - A unique solution to a shortage of gift cards and a big mistake led to the personal information of dozens who participated in Santa Fe's gun buyback program open to the public. "It shouldn't have happened, but it did," said Santa Fe Police Department Chief Raymond Rael. "I apologize on behalf of the city, I don't think that information should've been out there."
It all started Jan. 12 at a Saturday gun buyback . The city planned to give out prepaid Visa gift cards to anyone who brought in a gun. No names were to be taken and the gun owner would get $100 for rifles and shotguns, $150 for handguns and $200 for assault weapons.
SFPD budgeted $20,000, but there were more people with guns than the city had gift cards for. So to keep those guns from going back onto the street, SFPD says it gave those waiting in line an option. Either come back at the next event in February, or we'll give you an IOU if you waive some anonymity.
When SFPD went to the city for $33,000 for a third gun buyback scheduled for March, it provided the city with a list of information, including a list of the 92 people it owed money to from the first two gun buybacks. That information also included addresses and phone numbers along with what weapons the city bought from the person. Then the Finance Department put that information in a packet for the Santa Fe City Council making it public record.
Among the 92 names was Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe. Records show he sold the city two handguns and an assault rifle at the January buyback. Read more

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Jemez River Watershed to be studied
Valles Caldera land dispute goes to court
Police dog protection bill move to House 

Bill to protect police dogs moves to House

The state Senate has unanimously passed a bill that would go a long way toward protecting police dogs. 
The legislation would release $350,000 from the state Law Enforcement Protection Fund to purchase bulletproof vests for dogs in local police departments.
 In the Bernalillo County Sheriff's K9 unit there are eight dogs. Four of them have vests, thanks to donations. Half of them make do without.  
The bill now goes to the state House of Representatives.


Democrats stall social promotion bill

Majority Democrats in the New Mexico House are scuttling education legislation that's a priority for Gov. Susana Martinez. 
A party-line vote Monday by the House Education Committee tabled a bill to provide reading remediation and hold back most third-graders who aren't proficient in reading. 
The Albuquerque Journal reports that the bill sponsored by Democratic Rep. Mary Helen Garcia is intended to halt social promotion. 
Social promotion is a practice in which students are promoted to higher grades even if they're not doing well enough academically.


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Dept. of Transportation gets funds under proposal
DWI march at the Capitol today
Min. wage bill stalls 

DWI victims to march at Roundhouse

Nearly 600 people will gather at the Capitol building today to honor and remember DWI victims and their families. 
Wednesday will be acknowledged as DWI Awareness Day in the legislature.
 At noon, people from all over the state - of all ages and occupations - will join together to stand in silence and then march around the roundhouse. People will also wear red arm bands to show their solidarity. 
The group also wants to spread awareness about the dangers of drunk driving.
 It will be the fourth year for the March of Sorrow. It began after four teenagers were suddenly killed by a drunk driver in Santa Fe


Min. wage protestors visit malt shop

Protestors gathered outside of the Route 66 Malt Shop Tuesday to picket the restaurant for refusing to pay its employees Albuquerque’s minimum wage.
  The protestors are also calling on a boycott until the owner complies with the city ordinance. 
Albuquerque voters overwhelmingly decided to increase the city’s minimum wage during the general election in November.  The wage hike went into effect in January.  
Owner Eric Szeman told the protestors “I will go out of business and twelve people will lose their jobs.” 
Protestors also argued that Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry is turning his head the other way by choosing not to enforce the law that Albuquerque voters decided.


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Proposed budget includes 1% pay increase
Malt shop sees min. wage protestors
Social promotion bill stalls 

Budget proposal includes 1% pay raise

State workers and educators will receive a 1 percent pay raise next year under a nearly $5.9 billion budget proposal that's heading to the House for debate.  
The measure provides for a spending increase of $239 million or slightly more than 4 percent in the fiscal year starting in July. 
The Appropriations and Finance Committee approved the budget on Tuesday with three Democrats opposing the measure because of concerns about proposed education spending. 
Republicans supported the bill.


Farmington city councilor refuses to use email

Farmington City Councilor Mary Fischer
From - In the year 2013, it's hard to find someone who doesn't have an email, but KOB Eyewitness News 4 has found a Farmington city councilor who refuses to get an email address, even though the city says she needs it. Mary Fischer has been a city councilor in Farmington on and off for about 30 years and likes to interact with her constituents, in person or over the phone.
"They always feel free to come up to me to tell me their complaints or often sometimes compliments," said Fischer. But communicating with her colleagues is sometimes rocky. Fischer and mayor Tommy Roberts got into a heated argument at last week's city council meeting. Fischer was upset about other city councilors not informing her about important issues. So the mayor decided that a city issued email and computer should be installed in Fischer's office.
"It forecloses on the assertions that she's not receiving the same information that other councilors are receiving," said Roberts. The mayor says it's also a good way to reach people who do like to communicate online.
But Fischer has a different perspective. "People like to talk to people and we've seemed to depersonalize so many things that it’s nice to talk to an elected official who'd actually respond," said Fischer.
So far a computer has not been installed in Fischer's office, and if it is, Fischer says she will not use it and ask for it to be taken out. Read more

Newsbreak New Mexico 5 p.m. Webcast 2/19/13

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Teen falls from school skylight
Lujan works to extend Native American funding
Breed ban bill makes its way through legislature 

Gov. appoints a pair to the NMFA board

The Senate has confirmed two board members of the New Mexico Finance Authority, which was caught in a scandal last year over a fake audit. 
Clovis businessman Blake Curtis was unanimously confirmed and Albuquerque lawyer Nann Winter won confirmation on a 34-3 vote in the Senate on Monday. 
Curtis is a former state legislator. Winter serves as the authority's board chairwoman. 
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez appointed the pair to the board overseeing the authority, which provides low-cost financing for capital improvements by cities, counties, schools and other New Mexico governments.


Nearly 30 animal protection bills in the legislature

New Mexico lawmakers this session are considering more than two dozen animal protection bills that propose everything from raising money for starving horses to increasing penalties for neglecting pets and continuing oversight of government-run shelters.
 Animal rights advocates say the number of bills aimed at helping animals is higher than usual this year. 
They say one reason is the increased awareness of the connection between cruelty to animals and abuse of people. 
Elizabeth Jennings, executive director of Animal Protection New Mexico, says her agency is tracking some 30 bills this session, including proposals to make extreme cruelty like starving an animal or letting it freeze to death a fourth-degree felony.


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Trophy poaching bill garners attention 
High school dropout bill aims to take licenses
Gov. makes NMFA appointments  


High school drop out rate bill aims to revoke licenses

It’s halfway through New Mexico's 60 day legislative session, and lawmakers are looking for ways to reduce our high school dropout rate. 

One bill would require school districts to track those wannabe at-risk students through truancy records and failing grades, and then work with the Motor Vehicle Division to deny their licenses or revoke them. 

Sen. Craig Brandt, a Rio Rancho Republican, is the bill's sponsor. Brandt's bill would make it harder for kids to drop out, financial hardship or illness being the main excuses. It would require students and parents to sit down for an exit interview with the principal, where all of the drawbacks to dropping out would be spelled out. 

New Mexico's latest four year graduation rate has improved from 65 percent to 70 percent - which means the dropout rate is still about 30 percent. 


Pregnant women advised to get whooping cough vaccine

Health officials in New Mexico are recommending that all pregnant women get a vaccine to guard against the spread of whooping cough. 

The recommendation on Monday by the New Mexico Department of Health is intended to prevent the spread of the disease to children who are vulnerable to whooping cough. 
Eight hundred seventy-four whooping cough cases were reported to health officials in New Mexico in 2012. That's three times more cases than were reported in 2011. New Mexico had two whooping cough-related deaths in 2012. 
The New Mexico Department of Health recommends that all pregnant women receive the Tdap booster after the 20th week of pregnancy.


Discussion continues over min. wage bill

Voters could decide whether to increase New Mexico's minimum wage for inflation under a proposal backed by Democratic lawmakers. 

The House Voters and Elections Committee is scheduled to consider the proposal today. It's already cleared one House committee on a party-line vote, with Democrats favoring it and Republicans opposed. 
The state's $7.50 an hour minimum wage has been in effect since 2009. A proposed constitutional amendment would allow voters to decide whether to require automatic cost-of-living increases in the wage rate each year. 
Business groups have opposed the legislation. 
The measure goes to the 70-member House if it's endorsed by the Voters and Elections Committee.


Lawmakers squash liquor tax bill

From the Santa Fe New Mexican - by Julie Ann Grimm  - It’s been more than 20 years since the state Legislature allowed voters in McKinley County to decide whether to increase taxes on alcohol to help pay for substance abuse treatment programs. Six times since then, voters there have opted to leave the tax in place. But state laws don’t allow voters in other New Mexico counties to have the same debate: Would adding 4 cents to the cost of a bottle of beer be worth an increase in funds to help rehabilitate substance abusers?
A measure proposing a local-option liquor excise tax has once again died in the New Mexico House of Representatives. The House Taxation and Revenue Committee last week tabled House Bill 212 on a late-night vote, and the proposal is unlikely to see the light of day again during this legislative session.
Year after year, county and city officials — including Santa Fe city councilors and county commissioners — have asked for the local taxing authority that McKinley County already has. They want to raise more revenue to provide steady funding for alcohol and substance abuse prevention and treatment. But the result has been predictably similar: State lawmakers aren’t going for it.
Rep. Jim Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, said he objected to the law because it would put an “undue burden” on liquor distributors who would have to change computer systems to charge different tax rates in different counties. Excise taxes are tacked on to delivery invoices, he said, not at the cash register. The other reason he cited for rejecting the proposal was that it would increase the cost of alcohol to the point where people would stop buying it in stores.
“Moonshine is being made and we are not getting any revenues from that,” Trujillo said at the hearing. “The more expensive it is, the more moonshine you are going to see being made in homes.” Read more

Cartoon by A. F. Branco

From Legal


Newsbreak New Mexico 8 a.m. Webcast 2/18/13

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Gov. comments on "veiled blackmail"
Leg. works on Lottery shore up bill
State launches corrections dept. probe 

Alb business owner not paying new minimum wage

From - An Albuquerque restaurant owner admits he is not paying his employees the city’s new minimum wage. He claims his employees agreed on paper to work at the old wage. One employee says he agreed out of fear of losing his job. "I'm a good server. I enjoy serving. This is what I've been doing," said Kevin O’Leary.
O’Leary was looking forward to the boost Albuquerque’s minimum wage increase would give him. That is, until he says his boss at Route 66 Malt Shop approached him with an ultimatum. "I asked him, 'what is this? What's this form all about?' And he said, 'well, it's just that you're agreeing to the $2.13 an hour.' So I signed it," said O’Leary.
Owner Eric Szeman said he warned employees of layoffs when the ordinance was proposed and admits he approached O’Leary and his tipped workers with an employment contract. "It was an attempt to save everyone's job, which we did,” said Szeman. “We worked out a compromise that saved everyone's jobs.”
"I would like to comply,” said Szeman. So why won’t he? “We can't afford it,” he exclaimed. “We don't have the money. We don't make the money. The option is I'll get my keys right now I'll kick all the customers out and I'll lock the doors. That's the only other option we have," said Szeman.
The City of Albuquerque says it is not legal for a business owner to draw up a contract, paying employees below the minimum wage. But, the city says, ‘The city is not responsible for enforcing this because it is a “self help” ordinance.” An employee could potentially file a lawsuit against his or her employer. Read more

House approves public meeting agenda legislation

New Mexicans will have more notice about public meetings under legislation approved by the House. 
Governmental groups, ranging from school boards, county commissions and state agencies, would be required to make their meeting agendas publicly available 72 hours in advance. 
Currently, they must give a 24-hour notice of a public meeting agenda. T
he legislation unanimously passed the House on Wednesday and goes to the Senate. Supporters say the proposed change will improve governmental transparency.


Gun bill clears House

More people buying firearms in New Mexico will undergo a criminal background check under legislation approved by the House. 

The measure will require background checks for private sales of handguns, rifles and shotguns at gun shows. 

The House approved the bill Wednesday on a 43-26 vote and sent it to the Senate for consideration. 

Federal law requires background checks for sales by licensed dealers, including at gun shows, but doesn't cover private gun sales. 

Supporters of the legislation contend that expanded background checks will help prevent sales of firearms to people prohibited from having them, including convicted felons and individuals with a history of mental illness.

Gun rights activists say the measure won't stop criminals from acquiring firearms.

Swickard started in talk radio on this day in 2002

My start in daily talk radio came eleven years ago today. It likewise was a Thursday and it had nothing to do with Valentine’s Day. Rather, we wanted to try the show for Thursday and Friday and then have two days to make adjustments, if need be. Actually, we were fine.
     In the years of talk I have gained lots of stories and interviewed hundreds upon hundreds of people. The time has passed very fast but I would be remiss to not thank some people who have been essential to my development as a talk show host.
     First is the General Manager of Radio of Las Cruces who saw something in me that no one else saw. My friends thought I had lost all of my good sense stepping away from being a college professor to be a radio talker. Al Lumeyer, for better or worse, allowed me to develop into who I am on the radio. I also have been very supported by friends and family. Even when I was quite rough around the edges those first months… or years… they stuck with me.
     Most of all I could not be a talk show host if no one listened. Thank you for listening and caring.

New Santa Fe courthouse has something missing

From - By: Joseph Lynch, KOB Eyewitness News 4  - The Santa Fe County Courthouse hasn't opened on time or on budget. Now, after a County Commission vote last night, taxpayers are being told there's something else they might not be happy about. No parking. It's an issue for anyone at anytime in the "city different". Kathy Green has a business in the downtown area a lot. She figures it to go from bad to much worse with the court opening. "Oh, yeah. I circle the block probably three times and then I hope I have quarters," Green said. She might need a lot of quarters. There will be NO public parking at the new courthouse.
Security concerns led the Santa Fe County Commission to vote against public parking. County commissioner Liz Stefanics voted against parking. She had some advice for would be court goers. "They will need to make a little time to walk 4 or 5 blocks if there are disabled people. There will be disabled spaces in those parking garages. And they can drop off people here at the entrance."
It still doesn't set well with Melander-Dayton. "It seems to me that they should be able to address the legitimate security concerns and have a place for the public to park. This is the public’s building. You know, this is my courthouse." The new courthouse is due to open in March or April. It replaces the old courthouse, which is old and considered unsafe. Read more

The fortunate government and unfortunate governed

Commentary by Michael Swickard, Ph.D.
How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think. Adolf Hitler
     I would not like to live in a society with no government at all nor a society where the government acts with tyranny. Which would I prefer? That is like asking, would I rather be shot at sunrise or sunset? In-between anarchy and tyranny is where I want to live.
     In theory, that is where we are in this country. We have a functioning government and it does not use tyranny on us citizens. A Representative Republic is free of tyranny yet protects us from anarchy. In theory.
     The legitimate role of government in a free society is to provide government services like the military that is necessary. There would not be a country without our military to keep the dogs of other countries away. Take enough from the military and countries of evil intent will come after us.
     Government is good at some things. Still, I do not want government nosing into everything I do. Much is none of their business. More important is that my elected servants not command me. The role reversal where my elected servants tell me what to do is obnoxious at best and treasonous at worst.
     That balance is further complicated by the notion of public service. In theory the reason to be in public service is to serve and make our society better. In theory, if I am a representative by, of and for the people I believe in causes that are greater than myself. I should do my work for the greater good of the society and not just myself. President John Kennedy said, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Read full column

Newsbreak New Mexico 5 p.m. Webcast 2/12/13

Newsbreak New Mexico 5 p.m. Newscast with Vanessa Dabovich

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