Bill would change infrastructure development authority

The New Mexican

Days remaining in session: 25

Development bill: The House Taxation and Revenue Committee has approved a measure (HB552) that would allow infrastructure development zones to be set up with local government approval.

The bill, sponsored by House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Nambe, would allow newly developed areas to pay for their own infrastructure without burdening areas that wouldn’t benefit.

Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, R-Albuquerque, was the only member of the committee to vote against the bill.

She had questions about why a new layer of government would be needed.

The committee made several amendments, including eliminating provisions to give the new zones the power of eminent domain and to finance oil and gas development.

The measure goes to the House floor for consideration.

Richardson stays put: Gov. Bill Richardson skipped the weekend meeting of the National Governor’s Association in Washington, D.C., so he could tend to state matters, his office said.

Governors from nearly every other state attended the meeting, which included a visit by governors to the White House.

Richardson spokeswoman Alarie Ray-Garcia said, “The governor felt that he needed to be here in New Mexico because of the possibility of a vote on domestic partnerships and because lawmakers were working on budget issues over the weekend.”

Transparency bill fails: A measure axed by the full Senate Monday aimed to lend more transparency to who is giving what to doctors.

The proposal (SB99) would have required pharmaceutical companies to disclose gifts to doctors that are worth more than $100.

Sen. Dede Feldman, an Albuquerque Democrat who sponsored the measure, said before the vote that the vote in the Senate “may be a sign of the Senate’s receptiveness to future bills containing disclosure requirements for state contractors, open conference committee meetings and additional reporting for candidates.”

The bill, defeated 24-16, contains an exception for free samples to doctors.

400th birthday: A measure that would allocate $500,000 for the celebration of Santa Fe’s 400th anniversary has cleared one committee and is now pending in the Senate Finance Committee.

Sen. Phil Griego, D-San Jose, is carrying the bill (SB427).

“Santa Fe is the oldest capital in the United States. It became the capital of New Mexico in 1610. Even though it was settled before that time it has remained the capital for four hundred years,” Griego said in a statement. “And so it is fitting to commemorate Santa Fe’s history, which has been woven from Native American, Spanish, Mexican, American, African-American and other cultures who have contributed to that history.”

Suicide barrier: A proposal to study installing a suicide barrier on the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is headed to the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee.

On Friday, the Senate Rules Committee gave Senate Joint Memorial 18 do-pass approval.

The legislation by Sen. Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa, seeks no funding but asks the state Transportation Department to look at the feasibility of putting up barriers, including considering the project’s cost, looking at construction options and observing the bridge’s historical status.

The bridge crosses the gorge 650 feet above the Rio Grande and accounts for more than half of the Taos County area’s suicides.

Domestic partners: A measure that would give the same rights to domestic partners that married couples have (SB12) could be heard by the Senate as soon as today.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party paid for a poll that shows New Mexicans don’t want same-sex marriage. Although the bill would apply to all unmarried couples — regardless of genders — opponents contend the domestic partner bill is “gay marriage in disguise.”

Of those polled, 75 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of independents and 48 percent of Democrats expressed “solid opposition to same sex marriage.”

“This domestic partnership bill before the Senate is a threat because it is gay marriage in disguise, but not a very good disguise at that,” Sen. Bill Sharer, R-Farmington, said. “The supreme courts in other states have ruled domestic partnership, like the bill being proposed in New Mexico, is same-sex marriage.”

The telephone survey of 500 New Mexico registered voters was taken Feb 17 and 18 by Public Opinion Strategies and has a 4.38 percent margin of error.