Legislature tidbits, Jan. 28

Santa Fe New Mexico staff

Days remaining in session: 51

A swarm of lobbyists

More than 500 lobbyists have registered with the Secretary of State’s Office this session, with another 500 expected. There also are 600 organizations represented by lobbyists. That’s a ratio of 4.46 lobbyists to each of the 112 lawmakers.

It’s also a decent amount of cash for the state: each lobbyist must pay $25 to register.

You can check out the list of lobbyists at www.sos.state.nm.us.

Webcasting still a possibility

House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Nambe, on Wednesday named the members of subcommittee tasked with looking into webcasting from the Roundhouse. The group met and decided to gather a little more information before making a recommendation to the Rules Committee.

Some ideas tossed out during the meeting include starting a test project to webcast some parts of the session, as well as working with KUNM, 89.9FM, radio on audio feeds, which the station is already streaming on its website, www.kunm.org.

When polled by a reporter, all the members of the subcommittee either said yes or nodded when asked if they support webcasting. The members are Reps. Richard Berry, R-Albuquerque; Larry Larranaga, R-Albuquerque; Kathy McCoy, R-Cedar Crest; Debbie Rodella, D-Espanola; Ken Martinez, D-Grants; and Ray Begaye, D-Shiprock.

McCoy said she hopes the committee — and the Legislature — acts promptly: “We need to do something pretty quickly because otherwise it looks like everybody up here is dragging their feet.”

Wirth carries medical records bill

Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, has introduced a bill (SB278) that would put in place security and privacy protections for electronic medical records.

Supporters say electronic medical records reduce cost and errors, and give all of a patients’ doctors access to the same information.

“Having an electronic medical records system allows providers to spend more time seeing patients and give patients better overall services,” Department of Health Secretary Alfredo Vigil said in a statement. “This new law will help encourage providers to use electronic records knowing that their patients’ information is confidential.”

Panel to study equal pay

Gov. Bill Richardson has appointed a task force to look into pay equity in the state.

“Pay equity has always been a priority of mine and it’s reflected in my appointments to top cabinet, boards and commissions,” Richardson said in a statement. “And while a recent survey found gender pay inequities in state government are less than the national average, we can do better in ensuring that all New Mexicans have a fair shot at equal pay and job opportunities.”

Richardson’s senior advisor on women’s issues, Martha Burk, will chair the task force.

Quote of the day

“Think about each other. It’s time that we meet each other and know each other as a family.”

— Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, during Wednesday’s floor session.