New Mexico News Plus
NM bill would block border wall -- Albuquerque Journal
President Donald Trump’s plan to build a border wall could run into a roadblock in New Mexico, in the form of more than 22 miles of state-owned land and mineral rights within 600 feet of the border.
A group of Democratic state lawmakers filed legislation [HB 292] this week that would bar state land from being used, sold or transferred to facilitate the construction of the new border wall. If approved, the bill could set up a legal showdown between the state and the federal government. -- 2/2/2017
Dunn pitches border land swap to Trump -- Santa Fe New Mexican
State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn wrote a letter Wednesday to President Donald Trump proposing to swap state land near the U.S.-Mexico border for federal land in anticipation of Trump’s promised construction of a wall on the border. -- 2/2/2017
Gov. Martinez urges repeal of federal methane waste rule -- Santa Fe New Mexican
Gov. Susana Martinez is backing an effort by congressional Republicans to overturn a federal regulation meant to curb air and environmental pollution by limiting methane waste on public lands, saying the rule to reduce emissions of the gas threatens jobs and public funding of schools and roads. -- 2/2/2017
Senate committee approves brine well bills – Las Cruces Sun News
Two State Senate bills aimed at preventing the collapse of the I&W Brine Well, and potentially billions of dollars in damages and casualties in Carlsbad, were passed by the New Mexico Senate Conservation Committee Tuesday. The bills appropriate $25 million for a remediation project, along with creating a government body intended to oversee and manage the repairs. - - 2/1/2017
Republicans move to sell off 3.3m acres of national land -- The Guardian
The new piece of legislation would direct the interior secretary to immediately sell off an area of public land the size of Connecticut. In a press release for House Bill 621, Chaffetz, a Tea Party Republican, claimed that the 3.3m acres of national land, maintained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), served “no purpose for taxpayers”.
The 10 states affected are Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. Residents can see how much acreage is earmarked for “disposal” in their counties by checking a PDF on Chaffetz’s website. 1/31/2017
Four ethics bills clear first House committee– Las Cruces Sun News
Four bills aimed at improving governmental ethics cleared their first House committee Thursday. House Bill 10 would create a public accountability board to consider complaints against members of state and local government. House Joint Resolution 8 would ask voters in 2018 to approve a constitutional amendment. House Bill 73 would prohibit lawmakers and other former elected officials from serving as paid lobbyists for two years after they leave office. House Bill 93 would prohibit cabinet secretaries from receiving payment from sources outside state government. - - 1/30/2017
Lawmakers stick with concealed gun regulations– Las Cruces Sun News
A proposal that would allow people to carry a concealed handgun in New Mexico without a special license has stalled in its first legislative hearing. The SRJ5 proposal in New Mexico from Republican Sen. Steven Neville also has been filed as a constitutional amendment that would require approval by a majority of all lawmakers and a statewide vote. - - 1/20/2017
Oil, gas drilling rights near Chaco Canyon sold for $3M -- Santa Fe New Mexican
Despite protests from Native Americans, environmentalists and others, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Wednesday auctioned oil and gas drilling rights to 843 acres in the Chaco Canyon region of northwest New Mexico.
The rights sold for $3 million, according to the BLM. -- 1/26/2017
Trump moves to build border wall, cut sanctuary city funds -- Santa Fe New Mexican
President Donald Trump moved aggressively to tighten the nation's immigration policies Wednesday, signing executive actions to jumpstart construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall and block federal grants from immigrant-protecting "sanctuary cities." 1/25/2017
Bills to reinstate NM’s solar tax credit move ahead – Las Cruces Sun News
Bipartisan efforts are making headway in the New Mexico House and Senate to reinstate a tax credit that spurred nearly a quarter-billion dollars of investment in roof-top solar and related jobs in the nation's second sunniest state before expiring last year. A Senate panel on Tuesday endorsed a HB 61 that calls for renewing the credit for an additional eight years. - - 1/25/2017
Law Professor Outlines Historical Use Of Presidential Executive Orders -- All Things Considered (NPR)
President Trump signed five executive actions Tuesday morning. NPR's Robert Siegel talks with Cristina Rodriguez of Yale University about the historical use of executive orders and their limits. -- 1/24/2017
Trump boosts Keystone XL, Dakota pipelines -- Santa Fe New Mexican/Associated Press
President Donald Trump moved swiftly Tuesday to advance the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, signing executive actions to aggressively overhaul America's energy policy and deal a sharp blow to Barack Obama's legacy on climate change. -- 1/24/2017
LFC budget proposal sets up clash with governor -- Santa Fe New Mexican
Legislative leaders propose a $6.05 billion budget for 2017-18 that would trim the spending of state agencies by an average of 0.4 percent and count on lawmakers to either raise taxes or find additional cuts to balance New Mexico’s books when they gather Tuesday in Santa Fe for a 60-day session.
The chairman of the New Mexico Legislature’s budget-writing committee said Wednesday that, unlike the governor, he will not push to close the state’s current deficit by requiring public employees pay a greater share of their salaries into their pension accounts nor drain about $125 million in cash reserves from local school districts. -- 1/12/2017
Governor Susana Martinez Introduces Fiscal Year 2018 Budget -- News release, State of New Mexico Office of the Governor
Governor Susana Martinez announced her Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal, which closes the current budget deficit caused by the oil and gas crash without raising taxes. At the same time, the proposal protects classroom spending, economic development initiatives, and public safety.
The FY 17 solvency package includes:
• Sweeping $268.5 million in various cash and fund balances from across state government, including a small portion – $12.5 million – of lawmakers’ vastly overfunded personal retirement accounts.
• That also includes $120 million in administration slush funds within our school districts that are not being used in the classrooms. This DOES NOT have an impact on classrooms. With the sweep, the fund will still have $132 million and would allow school districts to keep their reserves at 5 percent as currently directed.
• Reducing the gross receipts tax “hold harmless” distribution to those counties and municipalities that have already raised taxes on their citizens. This will save $9 million.
• Reducing budgets for the Legislature and Higher Education, from 3 percent and 5 percent respectively, to the 5.5 percent the majority of other agencies are having to deal with (total of $4 million recurring).
• To prevent state employee furloughs and salary reductions, the proposal includes a 3.5 percent retirement swap from state employer contribution to state employee contribution.
• The elimination of some credits and assessments paid by Medicaid to the New Mexico Health Exchange and New Mexico Medical Insurance Pool (total of $17 million recurring).
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on Tuesday the U.S. intelligence community's report concluding that Russia orchestrated hacks during the 2016 presidential campaign was based on a mix of human sources, collection of technical data and open-source information.
Clapper, speaking before the Senate Intelligence Committee, said much of the report is classified due to a need to protect sensitive sources and methods. -- 1/10/2017