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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

SB 12 Domestic Partnership Bill Passes Senate Public Affairs Committee

SB 12, Sen. Cisco McSorley's Domestic Partnership Rights and Responsibilities Act received a Do Pass today by the NM Senate Public Affairs Committee, after hours of testimony pro and con. The bill passed by a margin of 5-4. Voting Yes were Senators Mary Jane Garcia (D, 36-Dona Ana), Eric Griego (D, 14-Albuquerque), Cynthia Nava (D, 31-Las Cruces), Tim Eichenberg (D, 15-Albuquerque) and Dede Feldman (D, 13-Albuquerque) -- all Dems. Voting No were Senators Mark Boitano (R, 18-Albuquerque), Gay Kernan (R, 42-Hobbs), George Munoz (D, 4-Gallup) and Vernon Asbill (R, 34-Carlbad) -- all Repubs EXCEPT for Munoz, who is a Democrat from Gallup who also voted with Repubs to reelect Sen. Tim Jennings as Pro-Tem.

The bill was heard in a joint committee meeting with the Senate Judiciary Committee, but the SJC will not vote on it until its next meeting. The bill will go to the Senate Floor to have the committee report entered, and then it will move to SJC.

Sen. William Sharer's alternate bill, SB 144, was tabled in the SPAC by a vote of 6-3, pretty much killing it in the Senate this year. Voting to table were Democratic Senators Mary Jane Garcia, Eric Griego, Cynthia Nava, Tim Eichenberg, George Munoz and Dede Feldman. Voting against tabling the bill were Republican Senators Mark Boitano, Gay Kernan and Vernon Asbill.

January 28, 2009 at 05:59 PM in Civil Liberties, GLBT Rights, NM Legislature 2009 | Permalink | Comments (6)

NM Rep. Joe Cervantes Introduces Same Day Voter Registration Bill

HCERVToday Rep. Joe Cervantes introduced HB 395, a Same Day Voter Registration bill (SDR) which will allow New Mexico residents to register to vote on Election Day. With over 1.8 million residents in the state, there are currently 1,185,079 New Mexicans registered to vote. This bill would provide statewide voter registration on Election Day at polling locations with photo id.

“Unfortunately, the history of voter registration in the United States, is a history of exclusion,” Cervantes stated. “We have made great strides in providing access to all Americans to vote and this bill is another step in ensuring that New Mexicans have every opportunity to participate in the electoral process. This legislation will also help eliminate the political games and misconduct which have infected the process of voter registration.”

According to research conducted by Demos, a Network for Ideas & Action, adoption of same day registration would provide the following:

  • Voter participation is projected to be 5.6 percent higher in New Mexico;
  • Citizens who have recently moved or are younger find it easier to register and vote;
  • Election administration, when SDR is thoughtfully implemented, can be improved and SDR does not undermine the Election Day experience of poll workers or voters;
  • And there is no evidence that the prospects for election fraud are increased.

Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Wyoming have passed SDR or similar procedures. Organizations statewide such as League of Women Voters, Common Cause, and AFSCME are supporting Rep. Cervantes’ bill to increase voter participation.

“County Clerks know better than anyone the challenges in running elections and increasing voter participation,” stated Maggie Toulouse-Oliver, Bernalillo County Clerk. “I believe the successful passage of this bill is critical to improving access to the ballot and to putting voter registration back in the hands of County Clerks and their staff.”

January 28, 2009 at 05:34 PM in Election Reform & Voting, NM Legislature 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1)

U.S. House Approves Economic Recovery Package and Teague Amendment

Today, Congressman Harry Teague joined a majority in the House of Representatives in support of critical legislation to cut taxes and spur job growth in New Mexico. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was approved by a vote of 244-188. (Note: Not one Republican voted for the bill.)

“Today the House took a first step to putting these tough times behind us,” said Congressman Harry Teague. “The legislation we passed today cuts taxes for 684,000 New Mexicans, creates an estimated 16,000 jobs in our state, and lays a foundation for long-term growth through clean energy, innovation and education, with strict accountability measures to ensure that taxpayers’ dollars are spent wisely and effectively.”

Two bills sponsored by Congressman Harry Teague were incorporated in the package. One of the provisions extends the renewable energy production tax credit for two years, making it easier for businesses to invest in renewable energy projects. The other would make the Child Tax Credit refundable for the next two years. An estimated 144,000 children of New Mexico families would benefit from the change in tax code, providing immediate and effective stimulus to our economy.

“I am proud to have the legislation I crafted included in this package. Investing in a new generation energy economy and providing stimulus to hard working families will bolster the economy of, not only Southern New Mexico, but the nation as a whole” said Congressman Harry Teague.

An amendment submitted by Congressman Harry Teague was also adopted into the package today. One of only 11 amendments allowed by the House Rules Committee, the Teague amendment enhances the Recovery.gov website created by the Recovery package to include information about and links to the state and local agencies that are getting the infrastructure money, and the same information about and links to the private firms that are contracted to hire the workers and do the jobs.

“What we’re going to do with the Recovery.gov site is make it easier for people looking for work to find the jobs created with this piece of legislation,” said congressman Harry Teague.

The Recovery.gov public website is one of several unprecedented accountability measures built-in to the stimulus package to provide additional oversight and increased public transparency.

The bill is expected to be heard in the Senate the next week and will then be sent to President Obama.

January 28, 2009 at 04:48 PM in Economy, Populism, Green Economy, NM Congressional Delegation, Rep. Harry Teague (NM-02) | |

Watch Rep. Harry Teague Speak During U.S. House Stimulus Debate

He's speaking about his amendment -- the first of his after getting elected this Fall. Go, Harry!

January 28, 2009 at 03:00 PM in Economy, Populism, NM Congressional Delegation, Rep. Harry Teague (NM-02) | |

Al Gore Urges Bold Action on Climate Change at Senate Foreign Relations Committee Today

Clip of Gore at today's hearing

At today's Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting, Al Gore urged lawmakers not to let the current economic situation get in the way of addressing global warming. Committee Chairman John Kerry asked Gore to testify, signaling that he intends to put the energy-global warming-security issue front and center as preparations begin for the United Nations' climate talks, scheduled for December in Copenhagen, Denmark.

You can watch a video of the entire Committee meeting at CSPAN.com. And here's the prepared text (pdf) of Gore's testimony.

Gore told lawmakers they should pass the Obama Administration's economic stimulus package as a first step in curbing global warming. He said the stimulus money would provide “unprecedented and critical investments” in energy efficiency, renewable energy, an improved electricity grid and cleaner cars, according to the New York Times.

Gore also urged Congress to pass legislation to create a federal cap-and-trade system to limit carbon dioxide emissions, and laid out steps for the United States to take in preparation for international climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December. Gore's involvement can help emphasize the importance of legislation supported by Dems to decrease C02 emissions and rejoin international efforts to fight climate change.

My favorite quote: "We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that’s got to change."

January 28, 2009 at 01:02 PM in Energy, Environment, Green Economy, International Relations, Science | |

(Updated) Today: KUNM to Live Stream Audio of Today's Domestic Partnership Hearing

Update: Folks from the NMI and SF Reporter are live blogging from the hearing. Catch it here.
McSorleyMeetup2The Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act (SB 12), sponsored by Sen. Cisco McSorley (right), will be heard in a joint hearing of the Senate's Judiciary Committee and Public Affairs Committee today. The joint committee meeting will take place on the Senate Floor at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe at 2:30 PM, or whenever the NM Senate finishes its Floor session.

KUNM will webcast live audio of the joint hearing here.

Supporters of SB 12 are encouraged either to attend the hearing or call the lawmakers on the two committees to urge passage of the bill. Click on legislator names for contact info:


SenatorCisco McSorley - (D)Chair
SenatorRichard C. Martinez - (D)Vice Chair
SenatorTim Eichenberg - (D)Member
SenatorClinton D. Harden - (R)Member
SenatorLinda M. Lopez - (D)Member
SenatorSander Rue - (R)Member
SenatorJohn C. Ryan - (R)Member
SenatorBernadette M. Sanchez - (D)Member
SenatorMichael S. Sanchez - (D)Member
SenatorPeter Wirth - (D)Member
SenatorWilliam H. Payne - (R)Ranking Member

Public Affairs

SenatorDede Feldman - (D)Chair
SenatorTim Eichenberg - (D)Vice Chair
SenatorMark Boitano - (R)Member
SenatorMary Jane M. Garcia - (D)Member
SenatorEric G. Griego - (D)Member
SenatorGay G. Kernan - (R)Member
SenatorGeorge K. Munoz - (D)Member
SenatorCynthia Nava - (D)Member
SenatorVernon D. Asbill - (R)Ranking Member

The joint committee is also scheduled to hear GOP Sen. William Sharer's bogus partnership bill (SB 144), the so-called Contractual Common Household Act. The bill would allow the establishment of an odd sort of partnership for any two adults in a home, regardless of whether they constitute a couple. Oh, and they can't be having an incestuous relationship. The measure lacks the meaningful protections for families and other equal rights under civil law included in the Domestic Partnership bill, and is primarily designed to muddle the debate on McSorley's bill.

Photo of Sen. McSorley at this month's DFA-DFNM Meetup by M.E. Broderick.

January 28, 2009 at 11:57 AM in Civil Liberties, GLBT Rights, NM Legislature 2009 | |

Bingaman & Udall Report on Senate Version of Stimulus Bill

U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall reported that the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a $325 billion spending bill (S.1) aimed at stimulating the nation’s economy. Although most specific funding levels for New Mexico are not yet known, the Senators confirmed a significant amount will be directed to the state.

“With the nation’s unemployment rates rising, we can’t waste time getting a stimulus bill to President Obama’s desk. This measure will help bolster the economy by fixing roads, constructing schools and health clinics, and making a variety of other infrastructure improvements that have been ignored for too long,” Bingaman said.

“I am committed to working with President Obama to effectively stabilize our economy," said Udall. "This recovery package is carefully targeted to create jobs with the critical long-term investments important to New Mexicans in areas like energy, education, transportation and healthcare.”

The vast majority of dollars directed to New Mexico will be determined by each federal department’s funding formula for each state. Because the Senate bill has just been written, most funding levels for New Mexico have not yet been determined.

But a few New Mexico-specific funding levels are known. Highlights of funding in the Senate bill provided by Senators Bingaman and Udall can be found (pdf).

For example, the Senate stimulus bill contains $72 million to improve levees in Dona Ana County. It also contains roughly $19 million for ready-to-go wastewater projects and another $19 million for ready-to-go drinking water projects. About $28 million would be sent to New Mexico tribes and pueblos for road construction. The Senators also estimate that, under the Senate version of the bill, New Mexico would receive $245 million for highway projects -- about $32 million of which would go to the Albuquerque metropolitan region.

The Senate bill will be debated on the floor next week, and must be finalized with the House of Representatives before it can be sent to the president. The House will debate its version of the stimulus package today, including 11 proposed amendments. See my post on H.R. 1.

January 28, 2009 at 03:55 AM in Economy, Populism, NM Congressional Delegation, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | |

Val Kilmer Donated to Nader for President, Even After Obama Clinched Nomination

Update: Also see Matt Reichbach's post at NMI for more on Kilmer's Naderista tendencies.
Val1By now we've all heard about the periodic noises coming from actor Val Kilmer -- who resides on a 6,000-acre ranch near Pecos, New Mexico at least part of the time -- about the possibility of his entering the gubernatorial race here next year. It's not entirely clear whether he'd run as a Democrat or a third-party candidate.

The latest word on Kilmer's political ambitions came in a January 20th article in The Hill. Kilmer agreed with a reporter that "he was giving a 'strong maybe' for a run for governor" and said, “Actually, they’ve asked me to run for governor. People seem to want me to.” He didn't specify who “they” are. The article notes that, Gov. Bill Richardson "publicly declared his support for a potential Kilmer candidacy last year."

Nobody really knows how serious the Doors-Batman actor is about jumping into the race to challenge current Lt. Gov. Diane Denish as Gov. Bill Richardson ends his second, and last, term. What we do know is that Kilmer has been registered to vote as an independent (unaffilated) in Santa Fe since 1992, but that he's never voted in New Mexico. You might say his bona fides in terms of New Mexico politics are questionable, at best.

$4,000+ to Nader: Now we also know that Val Kilmer donated more thant $4,000 during the 2008 presidental cycle to none other than Ralph Nader, the perennial green and/or independent candidate for president. Even worse -- if you're planning to win the hearts and minds of New Mexico's Democratic voters -- Kilmer made contributions to Nader even after Barack Obama had clinched the Dem nomination.

Yesterday, I was noodling around at www.newsmeat.com, which includes a federal campaign contribution search engine, and happened to punch in Kilmer's name. Turns out Val donated last August to both the primary and general election campaign funds of Nader for President:

Kilmer, Val
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Self Employed/Actor Ralph Nader (IND)
general 08/15/08

Kilmer, Val
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Self Employed/Actor Ralph Nader (IND)
general 08/11/08

Kilmer, Val
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Self Employed/Actor Ralph Nader (IND)
- $-1,700
primary 08/11/08

Kilmer, Val
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Self Employed/Actor Ralph Nader (IND)
primary 08/11/08

When the $1,700 refund is figured in, it looks like Kilmer's donations to Nader totaled $4,600, at least $600 of which went to his general election account.

Think about it. In a year when Democrats were fighting so hard to take back the White House, someone who says he'd like to be our governor was busy writing checks to support a candidate running against Obama. In the general election cycle. Inexcusable, isn't it? At least to me it is.

To see Kilmer's donations for yourself, just go to www.newsmeat.com and plug his name into the search. I checked the info at Open Secrets and came up with the same results.

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January 28, 2009 at 02:31 AM in 2008 General Presidential Election, 2010 NM Governor's Race, Democratic Party | Permalink | Comments (6)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Thursday: Stop in at Coffee Kids Open House in Santa Fe


From Mona Blaber: I'm on the board of Coffee Kids, a great Santa Fe nonprofit that helps the impoverished coffee farmers who grow our coffee. They're having an open house Thursday in their new offices on Old Pecos Trail:

You're Invited to Our Open House on January 29
Join us at our new offices on Thursday, Jan. 29, from 4:30-7 PM. We'll have coffee and beverages from Java Joe's in Santa Fe, and cookies by Kyle and Carolyn. We will also hold a drawing for a beautiful black and white print from Dorie Hagler's photo essay, "Behind Every Cup."

Please drop by, have some refreshments, check out the new place and find out a little more about the great work Coffee Kids does and the people it helps. Our new location is 1751 Calle Medico, Suite K, Santa Fe, NM 87505 (map). For more information or to RSVP, call 505-820-1443 or e-mail nancy@coffeekids.org.

The mission of Coffee Kids is to help coffee-farming families improve the quality of their lives. To this end, the staff works with local organizations in Latin America to create education, health care, micro-credit, and community-based programs for coffee farmers and their families. These efforts allow coffee farmers to reduce their dependence on the volatile coffee market and to confront the most pressing community needs.

January 27, 2009 at 06:08 PM in Economy, Populism, Education, Events, Healthcare, Poverty | |

Rep. Ben Ray Luján Speaks to U.S. House on NM Water Issues

Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D, NM-03) speaks on the floor of the U.S. House yesterday about water availability and allocation issues important to his district and New Mexico. Rep. Luján explains that "New Mexico is known as the Land of Enchantment because of our people, beautiful landscapes, clear skies and fresh air."

Among other things, Rep. Luján mentions his experience in tending to the acequia on his family's small farm saying, "I know the importance of water to rural economies across America. Land, water and sustainability are not only fundamental to life in my state they are fundamental to rich cultures ad traditions that make New Mexico great like acequias and land grants which are an essential part of the rural economies in my district. Let us work together in protecting New Mexico's rich culture and traditions."

Rep. Lujan's statement relates to the fact that the U.S. House will soon take up the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, which was recently passed by the U.S. Senate. Elements in the massive bill that pertain to New Mexico include the establishment of the Sabinoso Wilderness in New Mexico, settlement of a water dispute that began in 1975 between the state of New Mexico and the Navajo Nation over the resources in the San Juan River and financial assistance to the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority for the planning, design, and construction of the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System. A summary of the major provisions of the omnibus bill is provided by the Democratic Policy Committee.

January 27, 2009 at 01:12 PM in Environment, NM Congressional Delegation, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)