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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

(Updated) NM Legislature Convenes: Watch State of State Live

UPDATE: Click to read Gov. Richardson's prepared remarks or view KNME's archived video of his speech.
You can watch a KNME live stream of Governor Bill Richardson's State of the State address to legislators starting at 1:00 PM today as the New Mexico Legislature convenes its 30-day "short session" at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe. It's expected to be a contentious one, with State Senators looking to exert more power over the process, and Richardson critic Sen. Tim Jennings (D-Roswell) replacing the late Sen. Ben Altamirano as the Senate's president pro-tem. Last year, the Senate was the stopper on a number of progressive bills and this year the situation maybe even worse, even though Democrats are in the majority. There are Democrats, and then there are DINOs.

In addition to the usual budget wrangling that's the main focus of 30-day sessions, Richardson has indicated he'll be pushing health care reform first and foremost, as well as ethics and campaign finance reform, energy conservation measures and a domestic partnership bill. He'll also control the type of additional initiatives that will be allowed onto the agenda, which he controls in short session years. According to an article in today's Santa Fe New Mexican:

Richardson said his speech will have a simple message for legislators: "Health care. Health care. Health care. It's going to be an address saying that we have a responsibility in this Legislature, with the governor, to produce universal health care for every New Mexican and to start it with a comprehensive bill — not piecemeal," Richardson said.

Expect battles over a proposal to amend the school funding formula, the budget for roads that must address a large shortfall in funding and a law passed last session that requires candidates to get 20% of the votes at Party pre-primary conventions to get on the primary ballot.

Senate leaders have already balked at one recommendation from the Governor's Ethics Task Force to institute voluntary public campaign financing for statewide races. Who needs that when our candidates can rely on "donations" from big-money interests? What fun would it be if candidates could run without promising the moon to deep pocket special interests? Democracy might start breaking out all over.

According to the Albuquerque Journal's Trip Jennings, Senate leaders including Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez (D-Belen) have "sent signals" to the Governor on ethics reform:

Proposals to cap campaign contributions, create an independent state ethics commission and give the Secretary of State's Office more than $170,000 to fix its campaign reporting system have the best shot at being heard.

Not on the to-do list was a Richardson priority of expanding the public financing of elections to statewide offices, including governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

... Some members of the group oppose parts of the ethics and campaign finance recommendations. They made it clear Monday that they weren't endorsing the legislation, but they said some of the proposals deserve a hearing.

... "This is not saying these bills will get through, or that I am supporting them," Sen. Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen.

Big man, isn't he?

You can read more about this year's ethics reform proposals in my previous post.

NM FBIHOP has a about this year's health reform battle, including the results of a poll sent to 5,000 of Sen. Dede Feldman's constituents that indicates health care is their number one issue this year.

You can read about how last year's domestic partnership bill was defeated by one vote in the Senate in this post. Four Democrats, including our new Senate president pro-tem Tim Jennings (D-Roswell), John Arthur Smith (D-Deming), Lidio Rainaldi (D-Gallup) and Carlos Cisneros (D-Questa). voted with Repubs to kill the measure. The bill had been passed three times on the House side, including once during an ill-fated Special Session called by the Governor.

January 15, 2008 at 10:48 AM in Ethics & Campaign Reform, GLBT Rights, Healthcare, NM Legislature 2008 | Permalink


Monahan was pessimistic that anything will be done about health care. It is infuriating that we had our GOV running around the country when there is this vital work to do at home.
Watch sicko, the path is well cleared.
A few concessions in the legislature can only make the bureaucracy worse. Impossible paperwork for the sick, injured and traumatized. Impossible and intrusive paperwork causing even more delay in preventative health care.
The health insurance industry will take their massive 15% cut and then proceed to play the same games. Is there a guarantee that the insurance industry will not continue to jack prices. How many will be paying a crushing premium only to be charged at the doctor's office and pharmacy the arbitrary co-pay. These charges can be prohibitive for a family with several sick members.
Dad cuts his palm, goes to the er and the family is slammed with a 300.00 bill all on his 9 dollar an hour paycheck before shelling out 600.00 a month for health insurance premium. Then, he has to take several more trips to the Dr. for follow up at 35.00 a pop plus another 50.00 for pills.
The next month everyone in the house is down with flu and multiple secondary infections. The new kitten gives the kids ringworm and Mom caught pink-eye picking the kids up at the cheap childcare center. Time for another round of home remedies and prayer from grandma for all!
All this even for a family WITH insurance.

Posted by: qofdisks | Jan 15, 2008 12:32:49 PM

Richardson has delayed and delayed in reforming health care here. He appointed task forces and then ignored what they found. Now he offers this crappy plan with a health authority controlled by him and him alone. It sucks.

Posted by: red or green | Jan 15, 2008 2:18:16 PM

Bill Richardson's position on health care, which is similar to most centrist Democratic politicians' positions, is exactly why the Democratic party is failing us. Impeachment. Healthcare. Withdrawal from Iraq (even though he was on the correct side of this). War on Drugs. Election Reform. Media Consolidation. FAILURE. FAILURE. FAILURE. And it all has to do with money. We don't have a democracy, we have an auction.

Posted by: | Jan 16, 2008 8:30:08 AM

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