Saturday, February 09, 2008

(Updated-HB9 Fails) Domestic Partnership: The Facts

UPDATE: Much of this post is now moot, for now anyway, because the Domestic Partnership Act (HB9) failed to pass in the NM Senate Judiciary Committee this morning. It was tabled by a vote of 6-4. More than 200 supporters were in attendence. Sen. Lidio Rainaldi (D-Gallup) had a major hand in killing the bill, as he did last year. Rio Arriba County legislator Sen. Richard Martinez (D-Espanola) was the other Dem defector. Funny how the concepts of "sanctity" and "Catholic morality" are only in play when crushing measures that seek to correct civil liberty travesties, but not when you're greedily grabbing taxpayer money to fund the follies of your cronies. More to come on this.
*************
Yesterday's New Mexico In Focus on KNME included a discussion during The Line portion of the show on New Mexico's domestic partnership act (HB9). The bill is currently held up in the NM Senate Judiciary Committee after passing the House and the Senate Public Affairs Committee. The topic is covered during the first eight and a half minutes or so of the video clip above.

As a gay person in an 18-year relationship with my partner, I found much of the discussion to be accurate and on target, but I had trouble with a couple of the ideas suggested for a fix in lieu of domestic partnership legislation. Both James Scarantino and Pat Frisch advanced the notion that all the basic civil rights delineated in the domestic partnership act could be achieved merely by having partners sign contracts of various sorts. Pat Frisch even suggested this could be done by downloading simple documents available on the web. There are serious problems with this approach.

Can Contracts Replicate Legislation?
As Margaret Montoya states, it would be impossible to contractually achieve the 100 or more rights guaranteed by marriage under state law. Even if it could be done, it would cost thousands of dollars and many hours of time to obtain basic legal rights that the rest of the citizenry gets for free if they enter into what amounts to a legal civil union, apart from any church ceremony. Is that fair?

Moreover, there are myriad real-life examples posted all over the web of people who ran into trouble during medical emergencies and similar situations. For instance, many have encountered problems if they don't have copies on their person of all the legal contracts they executed to try and obtain at least some legal protections. Even if people keep copies of such documents with them at all times, there are many examples of authorities denying their validity for proving next of kin status or other legalities in an emergency.

Such problems often arise at times of great stress, adding to the pain caused by the event itself. Perhaps a partner is suddenly injured or becomes seriously ill while traveling and is unconcious -- and medical personnel refuse to allow the other partner to make medical decisions on behalf of the partner in distress. Sometimes a partner dies unexpectedly and authorities take charge of the body and refuse to release it to the surviving partner. Believe me, horror stories abound about situations like this.

Contracts Can't Replicate All Rights
While partners can execute certain legal documents that seek to protect their rights -- like wills and  powers of attorney -- there are many essential legal rights that are unobtainable through contracting. I'll use a situation from my own experience as an example. I'm lucky enough to be able to purchase health insurance via my partner's employer as a domestic partner, even though we have no explicit legal documentation supplied by the state of our partnership. Before my partner agreed to accept her current job, she requested such coverage be made available. Because her employer was enlightened enough to negotiate with their insurance provider, I was able to be added onto her health insurance coverage at the same cost spouses pay. All we had to do was sign an affidavit that attested to our relationship.

Of course the deductions from my partner's paycheck that pay for my coverage are taxable, unlike the tax-free deductions for insurance of spouses or dependents. But I do have medical insurance I couldn't get or afford on my own. All well and good -- as long as my partner stays at that employer. If she switched to a job at a smaller firm to better her career and/or compensation, there would be no way for me to obtain coverage under her policy. This is true even if the new employer wanted to offer it to me -- as some potential employers have.

Insurance companies won't offer domestic partner coverage in New Mexico via sworn affidavit unless the employer group is large. No current law requires them to do so. And bear in mind that most firms in New Mexico are small ones in the eyes of the insurance industry. However, if the domestic partnership law currently being considered by our Legislature were passed, they'd have to offer me coverage as long as my partner and I had obtained an official domestic partnership license for $25. There is no way this could be achieved with any kind of contract between my partner and I.

An Aside on Federal Law
Oh, and by the way, if my partner should be layed off, my coverage would be cut immediately regardless. My partner could extend her coverage under the federal government's COBRA law until she found another job with benefits. But because Bill Clinton signed the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal government can offer COBA coverage only to heterosexual married couples. Even if gay couples have legalized their relationships using domestic partnership, civil union or gay marriage laws, the federal government is precluded by DOMA from recognizing such relationships. And if my partner took a job with the federal government, we'd be out of luck on all counts. The federal government is prohibited from offering any benefits at all to domestic partners or those united via civil union or gay marriage laws due to DOMA. Thanks, Bill.

Voting on Civil Rights
One last thing. Pat Frisch also suggested it might be a good idea to have New Mexicans vote on whether domestic partneship licenses should be made available. I wonder how many other minorities would like to have their basic civil rights dependent on a vote of the majority. Imagine how well that would have worked during the civil rights era in the 60s when African-Americans were empowered, or even now in some places. One of the most critical goals of a democracy is, by its very nature and definition, to protect the rights of minorities from the tyranny of majorities. Should GLBT people be left out of this equation because of certain narrow religious or moral beliefs held by segments of the populace? You tell me.

February 9, 2008 at 01:07 PM in Civil Liberties, GLBT Rights, NM Legislature 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Call Speaker Lujan on Clean Elections Bill

From Steven Robert Allen, Common Cause NM:
Sadly, modern campaigns are often forced to spend much more energy on raising the boatloads of money that candidates need to compete. We’ve got a chance to change that in New Mexico with Clean Elections for statewide campaigns by passing HB 564. But we need to raise our voices. We need to let Speaker Ben Lujan know that we want his continued support for Clean Elections in New Mexico.

Please call Speaker Lujan to remind him that the Clean Elections bill, HB 564, is a critical reform: (505) 986-4782.

At this crucial point, a brief and urgent phone call from enough of us will send a strong message to the Speaker of the House. Please let us know that you made the call by reporting back to us here. Let’s keep the momentum of Super Tuesday alive by pushing for a major democratic reform—public funding of our statewide campaigns. A quick call to Speaker Lujan will go a long way to keeping Clean Elections on the move. Thanks again for your help in cleaning up New Mexico politics.

February 8, 2008 at 11:13 AM in Election Reform & Voting, NM Legislature 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

ACTION ALERT: Last Stand on HB9-Domestic Partner Bill

HB9 was passed by the NM House this Legislative Session, as well as by the Senate Public Affairs Committee. It has been held up in the Senate Judiciary Committee while advocates try to convince Democrat -- yes, Democrat -- Lidio Rainaldi of Gallup to let it go to the Senate Floor by either voting for it or refraining from voting. So far he has refused. Many personal stories about how the bill would help NM families have been sent to Sen. Rainaldi, including a heartfelt one from me. But it appears that political pressure on him from people who believe their personal religious beliefs should trump other people's legal rights is working. Very sad that someone who calls himself a Democrat would be against civil liberties for all, isn't it? Let's hope Sen. Rainaldi comes to his senses.

From EQNM:
House Bill 9, The Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act is currently a hostage in Senate Judiciary. The Committee is deadlocked 5-5 with Senator Lidio Rainaldi voting with the Republicans and refusing to move. If we are to have any chance of bringing this bill to the floor, we must show the legislators that this bill has broad support and that we are prepared to fight. 

Senate Judiciary will meet tomorrow, Friday, February 8th to hear HB9 (The hearing will NOT be postponed). THIS WILL BE THE FINAL PUBLIC HEARING FOR HB 9.  We need every member of our community to show up and be ready to testify. The hearing is scheduled for 2:00 PM in the Senate Chambers. The opposition has been arriving early in the morning to fill the committee room. We must arrive hours early in order to get seats. We know this means many hours of waiting, but this is necessary in order to ensure that we are heard.

EQNM will have water and snacks for people waiting around. It is likely that the hearing will run late, so even if you can’t get to the Roundhouse early, come after work. This is our last stand.  Spend Friday night fighting for equality!
*********
During last year's Legislative Session, the Domestic Partnership Act was gutted and stopped by four alleged Democratic Senators -- Tim Jennings of Roswell (who's now President Pro-Tempore in the Senate), John Arthur Smith of Deming, Lidio Rainaldi (again) of Gallup and Carlos Cisneros of Questa -- who joined with Republicans to gut the bill. The first three were anticipated, but Cisneros was the swing vote and he's the one responsible for the bill being killed.

You can read about how last year's bill was handled here and here. It passed the House three times, including once during the Special Session.

February 7, 2008 at 07:41 PM in Civil Liberties, GLBT Rights, NM Legislature 2008 | Permalink | Comments (8)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

NM Senate Finance Retaliates Against Air, Land, Water Protections

This is alarmingly childish and damaging: As reported in today's Albuquerque Journal: "The budget (HB 2) by the Senate Finance Committee ... would cut money and legal staff for two state agencies that have drawn criticism from some legislators for proposed tougher regulations on the oil and gas industry and vehicle emission standards."

Governor Richardson's blog also weighs in on the cuts: "The Senate Finance Committee tucked cuts into its version of the state budget that would essentially punish state agencies that have the audacity to hold oil and gas companies accountable for protecting New Mexico’s environment. The budget cuts look like an effort to retaliate against tough but fair rules and regulations implemented by the Richardson Administration to protect the environment."

Conservation Voters of New Mexico released the following statement today on the clearly retaliatory actions by Senate Finance, which is chaired by Sen. John Arthur Smith, a Deming Democrat:

SANTA FE – Conservation Voters New Mexico and many of its ally environmental organizations are calling for the reinstatement of $500,000 in cuts against important positions in the Environment Department and the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) by the State Senate Finance Committee. The cuts remove four staff attorneys from the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department and two staff attorneys from the Environment Department. Those staff positions serve as important resources to agencies such as the Environmental Improvement Board and the Oil Conservation Division, who under the authority of state statue, have been working to strengthen protections against environmental and health threats such as vehicle emission air pollution and ground water contamination throughout New Mexico.

“These agencies have worked diligently to protect the health and well being of New Mexicans -- and as a result they’re being punished by a handful of legislators,” said Sandy Buffett, Executive Director of Conservation Voters New Mexico. “I imagine these legislators have kids and grandkids who depend on clean air and clean water. It’s truly baffling what would motivate them to put the interest of polluters ahead of our childrens’ health and the well-being of the environment that they will inherit.”

With this action, the resources for these six staff attorneys will be diverted to positions within the Attorney General’s Office. “This re-shuffling appears to be in direct retaliation for the environmental and energy agencies doing their job,” adds Buffett. 

Conservation Voters New Mexico is organizing constituents in each of the related legislator’s districts to call upon them to reverse this action and return funding for the six FTEs into House Bill 2. A conference committee of the House and Senate Leadership is expected to take the matter up later this week.

For more information, please contact Sandy Buffett, Executive Director of Conservation Voters New Mexico, at 270-5743.

February 5, 2008 at 03:10 PM in Energy, Environment, NM Legislature 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, February 04, 2008

Today: HB9-Domestic Partner Bill Hearing in Senate Judiciary, 2PM

From EQNM: We're sorry for the short notice, but the Senate Judicary Committee is going forward with hearings on House Bill 9 (The Domestic Partners Rights and Responsibilites Bill) after all! The hearing is scheduled for 2:00 PM in room 321 at the Roundhouse. We anticipate the meeting will probably start a little late, so if at all possible please join us for our rally and press conference in the rotunda at 2:30 PM and then stay for the hearing. Today is EQNM Lobby Day at the Legislature. Let's Rock the Roundhouse!

February 4, 2008 at 12:26 PM in Civil Liberties, GLBT Rights, NM Legislature 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

NM Health Security Act Hearing Today

From Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign: The NM House Judiciary Committee will hear the Health Security Act (HB 214) today, Monday, February 4, at 1:30 PM in Room 309. The Health Security Act is first on the agenda, followed by the governor's Health Solutions bill (HB 62). Please come to the hearing! We need a very strong showing at this hearing. Call Your legislators this morning:

If your legislator is on the House Judiciary Committee, please call right away and ask him or her to support the Health Security Act (House Bill 214). Thank you for making these very important calls!

House Judiciary Committee

  • Rep. Al Park, Chair (District 26 - Albuquerque), 505-986-4411
  • Rep. Joseph Cervantes, Vice Chair (District 52 - Don Ana County), 505-986-4249
  • Rep. Elias Barela (District 7 - Valencia County), 505-986-4243
  • Rep. Gail Chasey (District 18 - Albuquerque), 505-986-4844
  • Rep. Daniel R. Foley (District 57 - Chaves, Lincoln & Otero counties), 505-986-4758
  • Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas (District 16 - Albuquerque), 505-986-4464
  • Rep. W. Ken Martinez (District 69 - Cibola, McKinley & San Juan counties), 505-986-4776
  • Rep. William "Bill" R. Rehm (District 31 - Albuquerque), 505-986-4453
  • Rep. Mimi Stewart (District 21 - Albuquerque), 505-986-4840
  • Rep. Thomas E. Swisstack (District 60 - Rio Rancho), 505-986-4254
  • Rep. Gloria C. Vaughn (District 51 - Otero County), 505-986-4453
  • Rep. Eric A. Youngberg (District 23 - Bernalillo and Sandoval counties), 505-986-4226
  • Rep. Teresa A. Zanetti (District 15 - Albuquerque), 505-986-4451

If you are not sure who your legislators are, please call your county clerk. You can also use the legislature's "find your legislator" feature (http://legis.state.nm.us/lcs/legislatorsearch.asp), but do double-check the district maps to make sure the result is correct.

If you have any questions or would like more information, contact Josette at 505-771-8763 or [email protected]. Or visit our website at www.nmhealthsecurity.org.

February 4, 2008 at 09:31 AM in Healthcare, NM Legislature 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Monday 2/4: Equality New Mexico Lobby Day at NM Legislature

From EQNM:
On Monday, February 4th, 2008 join hundreds of New Mexicans to rally in support of House Bill 9, the Domestic Partnership Rights and Responsibilities Act. Every person counts in what could be the final push in protecting ALL New Mexico Families.

Lobby Day Schedule
8:00 AM Early Bird Training
9:00 AM Second Training
10:00 AM Final Training
9:00-10:30 AM Lobby visit(s) time
10:30 AM Senate Gallery *
12:00 Host Lunch at First Christian Church
1:00-2:00 PM Round 2 Lobby Visits
2:00 PM Press Conference in the Rotunda
3:00- ??? Reception (Location TBA)
All trainings will be held at:
First Christian Church, 645 Webber St., Santa Fe MAP

*There is a possibility that the bill will be heard on the Senate floor. We cannot be certain but lobby day schedule could change slightly.

Trainings
Lobby day trainings will include a discussion of domestic partnership talking points, best practice tips for lobbying and an action plan to make the most of our time at the capital. All lobby day participants are encouraged to attend training before making lobby visits. This year we are able to offer three trainings:

Early Bird Training: This training will provide for a great chance to have a face to face conversation with your Senator before they head to morning committee hearings. It is highly recommended that you attend this hearing if you are concerned about your Senators vote (Plus you get the first pick on breakfast) to Get the worm click here

Transportation: The first 50 Early Bird Sign ups can catch the New Mexico Park and Ride at 6:35 AM on us! We are doing our best to encourage as much participation as possible. Please take this opportunity to sign up and click here. The Bus will be leaving from District 3 Station -- click here to view a map.

Second Training: The coffee will still be hot and the training is guaranteed to be on fire. This is the training to attend if you have a supportive Senator and have come to the capital delivering a thank you message, and for those of you, who need some extra sleep. To join us at our second training of the day click here.

Final Training: The Last Training of the day is for those supporters that are traveling from further distances and need a little later start. Click here to sign up

Lobby Day Press Conference
Join HB 9 Sponsor, Mimi Stewart and other Legislative Leaders to display the support behind HB9. This will be an excellent opportunity to gather with other New Mexicans fighting for fairness in our state capitol building.

House Bill 9 passed the New Mexico House by a margin of 33-31. It also received a do pass from the NM Senate Public Affairs Committee and is currently awaiting action in the Senate Judiciary Committee. If it passes there, it goes to the Senate floor.

You can read our previous coverage of the 2008 New Mexico Legislative Session in our archive.

February 3, 2008 at 01:35 PM in Civil Liberties, GLBT Rights, NM Legislature 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 01, 2008

Tonight on NM In Focus: Ethics Reform

KNME-TV Channel 5's New Mexico In Focus, which airs tonight at 7:00 PM, will feature a discussion about ethics reform with Common Cause New Mexico's Executive Director Steven Robert Allen, State Rep. and Minority Whip Dan Foley and former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron. The recommendations made by Gov. Bill Richardson's Ethics Reform Task Force have not gotten much traction at the Roundhouse this Session despite Richardson ranking them among his top priorities. Learn the ins and outs of the proposed bills and what the chances are for passage. Read more about tonight's show and who's on The Line segment's panel.

New Mexico In Focus repeats on KNME-TV at 6:30 AM on Sundays. You can also watch videos of the programs on the show's web page that are uploaded a day or so after each show.

February 1, 2008 at 12:02 AM in Ethics & Campaign Reform, NM Legislature 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Update On NM Health Care Reform Bills

From Health Security for New Mexicans:
The Health House and Government Affairs Committee voted to pass the Health Security Act out of committee this morning. The vote was unanimous, with two members (Rep. Bandy and Rep. Fox-Young) not present. Rep. Heaton joined other committee members in voting for the Health Security Act -- thank you so much for all your phone calls to him and to other members of this committee.

The Health Security Act now goes on to the House Judiciary Committee and will probably be heard next week. We'll let you know when a hearing is scheduled. The Health Security Act on the Senate side has not yet been scheduled in the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee, but we expect it will be heard next week as well.

The Governor and Health Solutions
The governor is extremely upset about what happened to his bill, Health Solutions, in the House Health and Government Affairs Committee yesterday. (The committee heavily amended the bill, removing the requirement that people buy insurance, removing the requirement that businesses pay into an insurance fund, and stripping the Health Coverage Authority of regulatory power.)

During the governor's press conference yesterday, he said he was going to "turn up the heat" on legislators. He had some harsh words for the House Health and Government Affairs Committee, as well as for the House Appropriations Committee, which is still going through the budget process and has not had a chance to act on most of the bills before it. We thought you might like to read his remarks in full, so here they are.

Governor Richardson's Remarks at Wednesday's Press Conference

I said before the session started that the focus would be on health care, health care, health care.

Up until today, we saw very little action on an issue that New Mexicans want resolved.

And now, after months and months of work and compromise, a single committee in the House unraveled our best chance at a comprehensive health care plan for all New Mexicans. The misguided amendments adopted by the House Health and Governmental Affairs Committee effectively kill the concept of universal health care. And if the members of that committee think this is over, they are sorely mistaken.

I now call on the Appropriations Committee to restore the bill to its original form, and send it to the full House for an up-or-down vote.

Do you think the 400,000 uninsured New Mexicans care that legislators think this issue is too difficult to handle in a short, 30-day session? No, they don't.

Do you think New Mexicans care about the political makeup of the authority that oversees this new system? No they don't.

Do you think New Mexicans care if their legislators have an election this year and would rather not make any big decisions? No, they don't.

They care -- and I care -- that they don't have access to affordable health care, period. That's what this debate is about. Frankly, that's what this session is about. Or it should be.

After carefully studying different options for universal health care, we crafted a fiscally responsible and comprehensive plan during the past year that removes barriers against those with pre-existing conditions and provides for participation by all New Mexicans.

We worked with everyone involved during that time to improve the bill and be ready for a robust debate during the legislative session. We also made the first move toward reaching a compromise last week -- in an effort to get the bill moving.

The people of New Mexico won't stand for us to complete this session without passing comprehensive health care coverage bill. They don't want excuses. And they don't want more studies. We need to act.

Unfunded Healthcare Initiatives:

Another critical concern we have heard from providers and others is the lack of appropriate funding to attract physicians, especially to rural areas of the state.

Yet, the Appropriations Committee failed to fund several important programs that help us recruit and retain physicians, as well as cover more people, including children, under Medicaid.

The Appropriations Committee failed to fund:

  • $10.7 million for the base Medicaid budget
  • $8.8 million to enroll additional children in Medicaid
  • $3.5 million for the healthcare workforce
  • $220,000 for Telehealth
  • $830,000 for PTSD funding for our veterans returning from war
  • $750,000 for Native American health care services
  • $1.3 million for the Health Care Authority

We have two short weeks to get this right. I am not giving up on this issue. In fact, I am ready to turn up the heat on those legislators who think they can get away with doing nothing for the people who elected them.

January 31, 2008 at 03:27 PM in Healthcare, NM Legislature 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

(Updated) HB9-Domestic Partner Bill Passes NM Senate Public Affairs

Crowd1
Packed Senate Public Affairs committee room

UPDATE 1/31/08: Note new time for hearing Friday 2/1/08 in Senate Judiciary Committee - 2:00 PM.

From EQNM:
The Domestic Partnership Rights and Responsibilities Act (HB9) passed the NM Senate Public Affairs Committee by a party line vote of 5-4. The opposition has mobilized and is showing up in large numbers. Today's committee hearing was the first where opposition attempted to pack the hearing room. Today five State Senators kept the fight for fairness alive. Senator Mary Jane Garcia explained her vote as a matter of respecting all people, values that were bestowed upon her by her religious parents.

Voting for Equality

  • Senator Mary Jane Garcia (D-Dona Ana 36)
  • Senator Dede Feldman (D-Albuquerque 13)
  • Senator David Ulibarri (D-Grants 30)
  • Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D-Albuquerque 12)
  • Senator Howie Morales (D-Silver City 28)

Voting Against Equality

  • Senator Steve Komadina (R-Corrales 9)
  • Senator Kernan (R-Hobbs 42)
  • Senator Stuart Ingle (R-Portales 27)
  • Senator Steven Neville (R-Aztec 2)

Senate Judiciary on Friday
It is likely that HB9 will be heard in Senate Judiciary on Friday at 2:00 PM evening. We need supporters to turn up in large numbers to demonstrate the support behind this fight for fairness. More details to come.

Pray1
The opposition prays against fairness for all families

Bradley_2Espinoza_2Led by Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell 59 (right), and Former Lt. Governor Walter Bradley (left), another Republican, the opposition is determined to block fairness for all New Mexican families at this hearing. As the opposition continues to spread their language of hate, emotions will flare up. It is important to remain respectful of the process at all times.

We must be able to count on you for Friday’s hearing. Please contact Equality New Mexico at 505.224.2766 to sign-up. If you are able to take supporters in your vehicle please inform us of that fact. It is extremely important that we pack this hearing with support.

HB9 has already gained passage in the New Mexico House Commerce & Public Affairs Committee and the House Judiciary Committee, and was approved on the House Floor by a margin of 33-31. Having now passed the NM Senate Public Affairs Committee, the bill has one hurdle left in the Senate Judiciary Committee. If it passes there, it will move to the Senate Floor for a vote by the entire Senate. Last year a similar measure was killed on the Senate side by 1 vote after having passed the House.

Gov. Bill Richardson is a strong backer of the bill, having indicated it's one of the most important bills on his call this year. If it passes the Senate, he will sign it.

To read our previous coverage of the 2008 New Mexico Legislative Session, visit our archive.

January 29, 2008 at 11:14 PM in Civil Liberties, GLBT Rights, NM Legislature 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ask Your Legislators to Sign the Voters First Pledge

As you probably know by now, many of our New Mexico legislators haven't exactly rushed to jump on the clean elections bandwagon. Like last year, there's an abundance of foot dragging and a pile of excuses on the part of lawmakers in Santa Fe regarding expanding voluntary public campaign financing beyond appellate judge and PRC contests.

I guess too many of our state reps and senators like the thrill of collecting big sums of money from the vested special interests that bring their business onto the House and Senate floors for passage. What fun would it be to serve the people's interests and have to forego all those cash advances for legislation to please the donors? I know that a great many of our lawmakers are honest, but it's time to make it easier for good candidates to run against the bad eggs who are beholden to all the wrong people for all the wrong reasons.

Common Cause New Mexico has come up with way to try and prod the lawmakers who are supposed to represent us into taking a public stand on public financing. By clicking here you can ask your state legislators to take the Voters First Pledge (pdf). It asks them to pledge to put voters first and work to pass and enforce legislation for full voluntary public campaign financing for statewide offices, extending the legislation already in place for New Mexico appellate court judge races and the Public Regulation Commission.

Shortly after the legislative session, Common Cause New Mexico will release a 2008 Ethics Reform Report Card to let voters know the degree to which their legislators support much-needed ethics reform in New Mexico. The Report Card will be partially based on their Voters First Pledge. Now's the time to hold them accountable. Ask your legislators to take the Voters First Pledge.

January 29, 2008 at 09:48 AM in Corporatism, Ethics & Campaign Reform, NM Legislature 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 28, 2008

NM Heath Care Reform: Tuesday House Committee Hearing

From Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign: The NM House Health and Government Affairs Committee is meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, at 8:00 AM in Room 309 to make decisions and take action on the three health bills the committee heard last week: Rep. Picraux's Health Care Authority bill (HB147), the Health Security Act (HB214) and the Governor's Health Solutions bill (HB62). Amendments are expected on the Health Solutions bill.

There will not be public testimony on these bills, since the committee heard from the public last week. However, please come to listen to the committee's debate on these three very different proposals. It's always good to have a lot of people at the committee hearings!

Quick Update on Sunday's Hearing
The Health Security Act was heard yesterday by the NM Senate Public Affairs Committee. There was very good turnout and strong testimony in support of the Health Security Act (although the committee limited public input to eight speakers for and eight speakers against each bill). Opposition to the Health Security Act continues to come mainly from the insurance industry.

There weren't enough committee members present to constitute a quorum, but those who were there voted unanimously (as a subcommittee) to pass the Health Security Act. The subcommittee's vote serves as a recommendation to the full committee to pass the Health Security Act. When the committee meets again, another vote will have to be taken. The other bills heard yesterday, including the Health Care Authority Act (sponsored by Sen. Dede Feldman) and two insurance reform bills (SB 226 and SB 377), are in the same situation, having passed the subcommittee as well.

So good news, but it's not yet over in this committee!

Quote of the Day: "If we want to address affordability, we need to go with the cooperative model [the Health Security Act]." -- Sen. Ortiz y Pino, while discussing insurance reform in committee yesterday

If you have any questions or would like more information, contact Josette at 505-771-8763 or [email protected]. Or visit our website at www.nmhealthsecurity.org.

January 28, 2008 at 05:29 PM in Healthcare, NM Legislature 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)