Branco Cartoon – Manufacturing Crisis


Bill to ban texting and driving stuck in Senate logjam

From the Santa Fe New Mexican - by Steve Terrell -  Early in the current legislative session, it appeared that Sen. Peter Wirth’s bill to prohibit texting and driving was dead. Then there was a comeback, and the bill seemed to be alive again. But since then, it seems to be in legislative limbo. The strange saga of Senate Bill 17 illustrates the arcane procedures of the Legislature and how even bills that seem to have widespread support — similar legislation has passed both the House and Senate in recent years — and no real organized opposition can get gummed up in the sausage-making machinery.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 6 initially voted to table the bill. Normally that means a bill will never again see the light of day for the rest of the session. But then Wirth, D-Santa Fe, agreed to craft a substitute bill answering some of the concerns of the bill’s opponents. On Feb. 18, the Judiciary Committee gave a do-pass recommendation to the new version of the bill on a 6-2 vote. Telephone companies AT&T and Verizon have testified that they support SB 17. The only opposition at the Judiciary Committee came from the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.
But if that seemed like a miraculous comeback for SB 17, it soon became apparent that the bill’s newfound momentum would be short-lived. The bill has been sitting on the lower end of the Senate floor calendar every day for nearly two weeks. But SB 17 has not been moving its way up the agenda, getting closer to the top as other bills get debated. Just the opposite. Last week, the bill was No. 28 on the calendar. On Monday, it had sunk to No. 38. By Tuesday, it wasn’t even in the top 40 anymore. It was No. 50.
According to Senate rules, bills that make it through the committee process don’t get heard on the floor in the order they come out of committee. The agenda is the responsibility of the majority floor leader, Sen. Michael Sanchez, D-Belen. Concerning SB 17, Sanchez has not made a secret of his opposition. He was one of the two members of the Judiciary Committee to vote against the latest version of the bill. Sanchez, a lawyer, has been consistent throughout his career in the Senate in his opposition to imposing stricter penalties for crimes. Read more

Lawmakers consider lottery scholarship expansion

Students who wait to go to a two-year- post-secondary school would be eligible for a Lottery Scholarship under a bill that just passed the House.   

The House Education Committee Substitute for House Bill 27 sponsored by Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton cleared the House by a vote of 49-13.   
The legislation will extend the Legislative Lottery Scholarship eligibility to students who are accepted to attend a two-year state educational institution within two years of completion of a high school curriculum at a public or accredited private NM  high school,  receiving a high school equivalency diploma or beginning service in the US armed forces or honorable service or medical discharge from the service.


Diane Denish won't run for Mayor

Diane Denish
Former Lt. Gov. Diane Denish announced on Facebook last week that she won’t run for mayor of Albuquerque.  
Denish, a Democrat, said in a written statement that she hopes the campaign will force candidates “to take on the real challenges our city faces such as the crushing lack of job creation, the threatened rights of workers and their opportunity to make a living wage, and making much needed changes in the approach to protecting all of our citizens from crime and gun violence.” 
In the race so far are: Former City Councilor Pete Dinelli, a Democrat; incumbent Richard Berry, a Republican; retired police Sgt. Paul Heh, a Republican; Jay Flowers, an office worker and Republican; and former Albuquerque first lady Margaret Aragon de Ch├ívez, a Democrat. 


House approves legislation to crack down on DWI

Convicted drunken drivers with an ignition interlock will be prohibited from buying alcohol under legislation approved by the House.

 Democratic Rep. Brian Egolf of Santa Fe says the proposal will help prevent offenders from drinking while they are driving. New Mexico law requires convicted drunken drivers to have an ignition interlock, which are intended to prevent vehicles from operating if the driver has been drinking. Offenders without a car don't need the devices, however.
 Egolf said he developed the legislation after seeing a man buy a soda and two miniature bottles of whiskey at a convenience store, mix them and drive off in a vehicle equipped with an interlock. 
The bill passed the House on a 59-5 vote Monday and goes to the Senate for consideration.