Legislature: Senator stresses frugality — with kilt

The New Mexican

Legislative roundup

Days remaining in session: 59

Fear of computers: We hope you weren’t looking for a live webcast from the Senate floor Monday or Tuesday. After the Senate voted 27-13 last year to begin streaming live video of floor sessions over the Internet, many people expected them to do just that. And after the state purchased and installed $30,000 worth of video equipment in the Senate Chambers, expectations rose even higher.
Last month, however, a small panel of Senate leaders decided to hold up the webcasts for at least another year. They blamed it on the budget, though it wasn’t hard to notice that the leaders who decided to put a halt to the project had voted against webcasting to begin with.
Sen. Mark Boitano, R-Albuquerque, who has pushed webcasting since 2005, spoke on the Senate floor Tuesday criticizing that decision.
“My constituents want more openness, more transparency,” he said. “By taking down the cameras, we’re making the statement we want to be less open, less transparent.” (Last week Capitol maintenance workers removed the cameras from the chambers.)
Boitano said he’s drafted a rule change to re-start the Webcasting project. He said he’ll introduce it in a couple of days.

Plum assignments: Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, said he’s thrilled about his committee assignments at the Roundhouse, which he learned Tuesday. They are House Appropriations and Finance Committee and the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
“It’s very unusual for freshman to get either committee and to get both, I was really thrilled.”
Egolf said his first day on the job was “way more exciting than I expected.
“I’m kind of speechless, you’re sitting there and realize this is a real serious responsibility, and I’m totally honored and thrilled people have sent me to do this job.”
Egolf said the energy committee assignment in particular meshes well with plans he has for oil and gas related bills.

He’s got legs: We don’t know who wears the pants in Sen. Bill Sharer’s family, but we do know the Farmington Republican wasn’t wearing any when the Senate convened Tuesday.
Sharer wore a tuxedo kilt that he said as a reminder to his fellow legislators to go easy on the spending.
“The Scots are world renown for being frugal,” he said in a news release Tuesday. “In our current economic situation, ‘frugal’ should be the watchword of our session.” He promised to wear the kilt occasionally in the days to come to remind lawmakers of the need for frugality.
Senate Chief Clerk Lenore Naranjo said Sharer’s tuxedo kilt complies with the Senate rule requiring a jacket and tie to enter the Senate Chambers.

Easy pickin’s: Hoping to add to the list of official state stuff — the official state bird, the official state flower, the official state insect, the official state butterfly, the official state necktie, etc. — Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, has introduced a bill that would designate the official state guitar.
Senate Bill 52 would give that honor to the Pimentel rising sun guitar, which is manufactured by longtime Albuquerque company Pimentel & Sons Guitar Maker.
According to the company’s Web site, the New Mexico rising sun is embellished with coral zia symbols and mother-of-pearl inlays. Unlike the state cookie, the bizcochito, which anyone can afford, the proposed state guitar retails for about $8,000.
The Pimentel company was established in 1951 by Lorenzo and Josefina Pimentel. Four of the couple’s sons — Rick, Robert, Victor and Agustin — make guitars for the company.
If there’s any other contender for state guitar, nobody’s got a bill for it yet.

Quote of the day: “With this ambitious an agenda, it’s a good thing the Constitution limits us to 60 days. It’s a darn good thing the Constitution doesn’t allow us to stay longer. That’s a great protection for the taxpayers.”
— House Minority Whip Keith Gardner, R-Roswell, reacting to Gov. Bill Richardson’s State of the State speech

Read Kate Nash’s blog, www.greenchilechatter.com and Steve Terrell’s blog, www.roundhouseroundup.com