Discrepancies in drug laws magnify race

Freedom New Mexico Now that the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat has introduced a bill to end the unjustified and counterproductive 100-1 sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine, there’s a pretty good chance this 23-year mistake finally will be ended. Majority Whip Richard Durbin introduced his bill Thursday. Since a similar bill has already passed [...]

Government only drives up reform costs

Freedom New Mexico Finally ending what has been one of the more excruciating legislative episodes in recent history, the Senate Finance Committee has approved the Baucus bill. It happened after months of debate and negotiation on health care legislation. Now the real battles can begin. The Baucus bill, named for committee chairman Max Baucus of [...]

Energy bill could raise utility rates

By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer Local electricity providers expect customer costs to go up if a proposed federal cap-and-trade climate legislation passes the U.S. Senate without changes. This summer, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, which has a number of provisions to limit carbon emissions [...]

No money to pay survivor benefits

By Tom Philpott: Military update It can be a frustrating time of year for 54,000 military widows who see their Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) payments wiped out or reduced by the monthly amount they receive in Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from the Department of Veterans Affairs. As it has done routinely in recent years, [...]

Senate doesn’t need to stop with F-22 cut

The 58-40 Senate vote last week to stop production of more F-22 fighter planes was a welcome bit of sanity applied to Pentagon spending. Whether it will lead to less wasteful Pentagon procurement policies in the future or go down as simply a symbolic gesture is a more complicated question. The F-22 was developed in [...]

Legislature works on transparency, ethics measures

By Kate Nash: The Santa Fe New Mexican In the basement, the Senate in a late-night session was taking a major step to increase confidence in state government by voting to throw the doors open on some of the last closed meetings in the Capitol.

Senate agrees to open doors on committee meetings

By Kate Nash: The New Mexican After more than 10 years of trying to open conference committees, new members of the Senate may have made the difference. The Senate voted late Thursday night 33-8 to approve a measure to open the committee meetings, some of the last shuttered gatherings at the Roundhouse. House Bill 393 [...]

Long day, night at Roundhouse

By Kate Nash: The New Mexican In any other year, three days out from the Legislature’s adjournment, the Roundhouse hallways by 9:30 a.m. can be frenetic with lawmakers and lobbyists pondering the fate of their bills. Instead, the halls are mostly quiet, and the coffee maker of the Society of Association Executives is just rumbling [...]

March 19, 2009 Legislative tidbits

Days remaining in session: two Media literacy: Under a bill approved by both the House and Senate, public schools could offer media literacy as an elective class. The measure (HB342) calls for the electives to be offered to 6th through 12th graders starting in the 2010-2011 school year. Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, is carrying [...]

Open conference question comes to state senate

By Kate Nash: The Santa Fe New Mexican To open conference committees to the public or not? That seems to be a key question before the state Senate this session, one that’s nearing a vote on the chamber’s floor. The Senate is considering two measures to allow the public and the media into conference committees, [...]