Capitol building struggling with overcapacity

From - By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4  - A lot of New Mexicans are pretty fed up and frustrated with the nuts and bolts of how democracy works at our State capitol these days. It comes down to either too many people, or not enough room at the Capitol, and since Americans treasure participation in the process, the blame has got to come down on the building itself. It's just not big enough for the job.
It's never been more obvious than it is already in this sixty-day session. A red hot issue like gun control or same-sex marriage will draw hundreds of New Mexicans, from even the farthest-flung corners of the state, all the way to the Capitol in Santa Fe. But the hearings are held mostly in itty-bitty committee rooms, some of them limited to 35 or 40 people. Everybody else lines up in the hall outside, waiting for somebody inside to vacate their seat. They're unable to speak their piece or hear what's going on.
The Capitol was built back in 1966, when the Beatles were still together and Elvis wasn't even fat yet and the state's population was way less than half of the two million we have now. That leads to the frustrating situation today.
Unfortunately, this situation doesn't look like it will be changing anytime soon. That's because there isn't any money lying around to expand the Capitol or build a new one. And consider this: as crowded as the building is during legislative sessions, it's mostly empty the other 10 or 11 months of the year. Read more

Research group says NM roads need upgrading

A national highway research group says a fifth of New Mexico's roads need upgrading because they are in poor or mediocre condition.

 In a report issued Tuesday, the Washington, D.C-based group called TRIP said New Mexico's economy would receive a boost if roads and bridges were improved. 
The organization is partly sponsored by the highway construction industry. 
The group rates 67 percent of New Mexico roads in good or excellent condition and 12 percent in fair condition. The report said 44 percent of the major roads in the Albuquerque area are in poor or mediocre condition, and a third of Santa Fe's main roads had similar ratings. 
The Legislative Finance Committee has proposed $25 million for road improvements next year from taxes on motor vehicle sales.


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Lawmakers close to gun bill 
Gov. to chair GOP recruiting effort
House panel approves min. wage increase 

House panel approves min. wage inflation increase

A House panel has approved a proposal for increasing New Mexico's minimum wage for inflation each year. 
The measure cleared the Labor and Human Resources Committee on a party-line 5-4 vote on Tuesday. Republicans opposed the proposal and Democrats supported it. 
The state's $7.50 an hour minimum wage has been in effect since 2009. The proposed constitutional amendment by Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque, would allow voters to decide whether to require automatic cost-of-living increases in the wage rate. 
Business groups opposed the measure, which heads to another House committee for consideration. The proposal would be placed on the 2014 general election ballot if it's approved by the Democratic-controlled House and Senate.
 A proposed constitutional amendment doesn't require the signature of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.


Lawmakers close to gun control deal

Lawmakers said they are close to coming up with a gun control bill both parties can support. 

After a long debate, legislators did not end up voting Monday. 
Lawmakers said they are inching closer to a compromise that would require gun sellers at gun shows to go through licensed gun dealers.  
Parts of the original bill were dropped, including requiring background checks for private sales. Lawmakers talked about an amendment that would strengthen background checks for private sales in order to prevent convicted felons, people who are mentally ill and others who aren’t allowed to have guns from buying them. 
A lawmaker introduced another bill Monday that would ban semi-automatic guns that shoot more than 10 bullets.