KRWG

Local Viewpoints

KRWG welcomes you to join our community discussion.  E-mail your comments to:  feedback @ nmsu.edu  Comments included here represent the views of the individual writers and do not necessarily represent the views of KRWG or New Mexico State University.  Submissions must adhere to these guidelines.

House Democrats Stop Republican Measures to Harm Workers

Feb 12, 2019

Commentary: Today, House Democrats stood with New Mexico workers and families as House Republicans attempted to push anti-worker legislation through the House Labor, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee. House Bill 377 would repeal all of the provisions of the Public Works Minimum Wage Act, without proposing a replacement, and House Bill 378 would strip worker protections,stopping workers from collectively negotiating for fair wages, leave policies, and benefits, respectively.

“I am disappointed in my Republican colleagues for attempting to pass bills that are meant to blatantly hurt New Mexico workers. These bills have been proven, time and time again, to lower wages and negatively impact hard working New Mexicans,” said Chairman of the House Labor, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee Eliseo Alcon (D-Milan). “Instead of pushing laws that hurt New Mexico workers and their families, we should be supporting initiatives to invest in small businesses, make college more affordable, expand job training opportunities, and improve education in our state.”

Commentary:  New Mexico voters overwhelmingly support raising taxes on corporations and those with the highest incomes and using the revenue raised to invest in early childhood and K-12 education, as well as college scholarships, according to a new poll commissioned by New Mexico Voices for Children. Greater funding for mental health services, infrastructure, public safety, and clean energy also all received strong support.

“Clearly New Mexicans are ready for their state to change direction and make the investments that our families, communities, and economy all depend upon in order to thrive,” said James Jimenez, executive director of NM Voices for Children. “They’ve rejected years of failed trickle-down tax cuts and austerity, and are ready to see their state move forward by building the human capital and infrastructure that will lead to a strong economy.”

Commentary: New Mexico Wild joined a broad coalition today in celebrating the passage of a public lands package in the U.S. Senate by voice vote that, in part, calls for the creation of thirteen new wilderness areas in New Mexico, including ten within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and two within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. The roughly 270,000-plus acres of potential New Mexico wilderness that are included in the Natural Resources Management Act would mark the most acreage of wilderness designated in New Mexico in a single year since 1980 if the legislation passes the U.S. House of Representatives and is signed into law by President Donald Trump.

Las Cruces Area Delegation Statement on Anti-Gay Student Attack

Feb 12, 2019

  Commentary: Today, The Doña Ana County Democratic Delegation of the House of Representativesreleased the following statement regarding Friday’s anti-gay student attack that occurred at Zia Middle School:

“The anti-gay attack that unfolded Friday at Zia Middle School runs contrary to our values as New Mexicans. LGBTQ students like Savannah deserve a safe and welcoming place where they can learn in peace and live as their authentic selves. We honor Savannah’s courage and bravery. As your Representatives, we stand against bigotry and violence in all forms. We stand with Savannah.”  

 

Governor, Senator Stewart announce Solar Tax Credit legislation

Feb 12, 2019

Commentary: Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced on Tuesday the introduction of Senate Bill 518 to reinstate a solar tax credit and more easily allow for home and business owners to take advantage of New Mexico’s solar energy potential.

 Sponsored by Senator Mimi Stewart, SB 518 creates the new solar market development income tax credit for ten percent of solar installation costs in a residence, business or agricultural enterprise. New Mexico’s number of sunny days and higher elevation creates a unique environment for solar energy that will be more easily accessed by New Mexicans with this legislation. A previous solar tax credit that was allowed to expire in 2016 was associated with a 2,000 percent increase in residential solar installations alone between 2009 and 2014. SB 518 allows for a credit to be claimed beginning January 1, 2019, through January 1, 2029.

Commentary – New Mexico’s Senior Citizens deserve a tax break and they would receive one under a new measure proposed by Rep. Gail Armstrong (R-Magdalena). House Bill 477 (HB 477) would allow senior citizens to claim up to $24,000 in Social Security Income without being forced to pay state taxes. If passed, HB 477 could mean a tax break of hundreds of dollars every year for senior citizens on a fixed income.

“Our senior citizens deserve a break,” said Rep. Armstrong “they are so important to our communities and state that we should do all we can to support them. So many of our senior citizens make the choice to live in New Mexico and volunteer in our communities and we shouldn’t be over-taxing their limited income.”

Currently, New Mexico is one of only 13 states that tax senior citizen’s social security. To date, House Democrats have not scheduled HB 477 for a hearing.

More Fuel Needed for the Education Moonshot to be Successful

Feb 11, 2019

  Commentary: The Rockets [proposed budgets] Built for the “Education Moonshot” Need Fuel [sufficient, diverse and sustainable revenue] to Power the Flight All the Way to the Moon [Student Success]!  

We commend both the legislative Finance Committee and the Governor’s office for proposing statewide budgets to significantly increase supports for student success.  Though the budgets fall far short of what is needed for the platform of Yazzie/Martinez plaintiffs, legislators and the administration claim this year’s increases are only the first steps toward future years of additional support to finally sufficiently fund our public schools.  

 

New Mexico Democrats Release Statement In Response To Trump Visit To El Paso

Feb 11, 2019
donaldjtrump.com

Commentary: In response to Donald Trump’s visit to El Paso, TX, which is adjacent to New Mexico’s border communities, Marg Elliston, Chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico, released this statement:

“Like the forcible family separation policy and his extreme restrictions on immigration and asylum, Donald Trump’s visit is just one part of his plan to intentionally destabilize the Borderlands and sow chaos, something he thinks he can exploit for his reelection.

“But if Trump thinks he is going to tear apart our communities, he is as wrong as his immigration policy is immoral. New Mexicans (and Texans) are stronger than Trump’s words of hate. The U.S.-Mexico border is vibrant, diverse, and one of the most important economic centers in North America, and it will continue to thrive long after Donald Trump is out of office.

Goodman: Remembering A Very Different Las Cruces

Feb 10, 2019
Peter Goodman

Commentary: Forty-four years ago this week I started work as the Las Cruces Bureau Chief for The El Paso Times

 

It was a different town in a different time. Cruces was much smaller then, though it had added a second high school. Telshor Boulevard was quite new, and there was nothing but desert between it and the Cox ranch house up in the Organ foothills. I-10 met up with I-25, but didn't continue through town. Folks used University Avenue, Valley Drive (“Truck Bypass”), and Picacho to get back on I-10 toward Deming. One of the town's biggest businesses was the Palms Motel on Picacho. The county commission was three people, and met in a tiny room in the courthouse. Tommy Graham was mayor. Bob Munson and Albert Johnson were on the city commission, each to become mayor within a few years. 

 

Trump's Omission of Yemen from SOTU is Telling

Feb 6, 2019

Commentary: According to the Government Accountability Office, President Trump’s early trips to Mar-a-Lago cost 13.8 million dollars. The Defense Department and Homeland Security incurred a majority of those costs, approximately 8.5 and 5.1 million respectfully.

Senator Martin Heinrich (D) and Senator Tom Udall (D)

Commentary:  U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, along with 40 other Democratic senators, introduced legislation to keep immigrant families together and prevent the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from taking children from their parents at the border. The Keep Families Together Act would prohibit the separation of children from their parents or legal guardians at or near ports of entry or within 100 miles of the border, unless they are being trafficked or abused by their parents. The legislation was developed in consultation with child welfare experts to ensure the federal government is acting in the best interest of children and is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), Children’s Law Center, Young Center for Immigrant Rights, and the Women's Refugee Commission. 

 

Commentary: With the first hearing for The Medicaid Buy-in Act scheduled for Friday, families from across the state came to the Capitol on Wednesday to tell their personal healthcare stories and to explain their support for Medicaid Buy-in.

“My family didn’t have health insurance,” said Richard Ranger from McKinley County. “Then we started getting medical bills and I knew we needed it. But when I applied for Medicaid, I found out we were making too much money to qualify. Medicaid Buy-in would really help people like me who are stuck in the middle without insurance.”

Udall: Trump Sows "Hatred, Fear, Division"

Feb 5, 2019
U.S. Senator Tom Udall D-NM

Commentary: U.S. Senator Tom Udall issued the following statement on President Trump’s State of the Union Address:

“After he dragged our country through the longest government shutdown in American history, President Trump had an opportunity tonight to show people in New Mexico that he would change course. Unfortunately, the president seems committed to the same destructive tactics that caused 35 days of hardship, pain, and fear for families across our state and the country.

Steve Pearce

Commentary: Today, Democrat state Senators Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and Benny Shendo introduced legislation to place a four-year moratorium on new fracking permits in New Mexico.

Chairman Pearce today issued the following statement in response:

“I agree with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham when she famously said last year that left-wing progressive activists have ‘​lost their minds​’in their hostility to the oil and gas industry. The mere discussion in Santa Fe of the concepts presented in this bill will cause future investors to reconsider investing hundreds of billions of dollars in New Mexico when the state is considering eliminating their ability to recoup their investment.“

House Republicans Blast Democratic Legislation

Feb 4, 2019

Commentary: Denying textbooks to all students, disenfranchising voters and prohibiting pro-life New Mexicans from testifying were all part of a barrage of actions from House Democrats on Friday.  Taking votes late into the evening, House Democrats are hoping New Mexicans will forget their efforts to push unpopular laws upon the state with little public input.

“House Democrats may be forcing these bills on New Mexicans so quickly because they hope a few years down the road, we’ll forget,” said Rep. Jim Townsend (R-Artesia) “they couldn’t be more wrong.”

Gov. Lujan Grisham, Legislators, Celebrate 'Rocket Docket' Signing

Feb 4, 2019

Commentary: Capping a brisk and diligent first few weeks of the legislative session, and signaling the launch of a new era of productive, collaborative work processes at the Capitol, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and legislative representatives on Monday celebrated the passage of the ‘rocket docket,’ a package of common-sense, bipartisan legislation that was summarily blocked under the prior administration.

The governor signed 42 bills Monday brought to her expeditiously by the Legislature. In a public event at the Cabinet Room, she signed one bill from each chamber, Senate Bill 9 and House Bill 44.

  Commentary: Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), along with U.S. Senators Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) introduced the Restrictions Against Illegitimate Declarations for Emergency Re-appropriations (RAIDER) Act of 2019. The legislation prevents the president from utilizing the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to raid critical military construction and disaster response funds to construct his wall along the southern border.

 

 

Before, during, and after the Trump shutdown, President Trump has repeatedly threatened to declare a national emergency to bypass Congress and finance construction of his border wall, and recent press reports indicate a declaration is being drafted in the White House. Under the National Emergencies Act, the funds most at risk of being misdirected to build the president’s wall are U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) civil works funds and Military Construction (Milcon) funding. President Trump is threatening to take funds from critical disaster recovery, flood protection, and military base construction projects in states across the country.

 

Commentary: Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01) has invited Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) Mara Keisling (she) to be her guest to the State of the Union on Tuesday, February 5th. The invitation came after the Haaland’s original State of the Union guest Bunnie Benton Cruse (she), Chair of the New Mexico Transgender Resource Center Board of Directors celebrated the Congresswoman’s new role on the Equality Caucus in her Washington Office last week.

A Chance For New Mexico To Lead On Climate Policy

Feb 3, 2019

Commentary: In an exciting stroke of the pen, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that New Mexico will join the U.S. Climate Alliance, adding New Mexico to the growing list of states pledging to embrace the necessary and ambitious goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. Surrounded by environmental advocates, young people from the Global Warming Express, and heads of state agencies, we were honored to stand near the Governor as she specifically named methane capture as a focal point in the state’s effort to combat climate change.

Commentary: New Mexicans have recently seen a slew of articles about the chance for New Mexico to have a “moonshot” in education. Clearly, the energy of the new Governor and her commitment to education presents us with opportunities we have not had in years.   At the forefront of those opportunities is the chance to give our kids the very best start in life – the lift off!   

SB 22, which I introduced on the first day of early filing period creates a Department of Early Education and Care.  This gives NM a chance to focus on our commitment to kids from the very beginning. It is an idea years in the making and was first introduced two years ago by me and now Lt. Governor Howie Morales. We worked hand in hand with the Early Childhood Development Partnership, early childhood educators, advocates, caregivers and communities throughout NM to determine the best way to put the focus on Early Learning that our kids deserve.   This bill does exactly that.

Goodman: Remembering Deputy John Duffy

Feb 3, 2019
Peter Goodman

Commentary: Some people you know immediately, even if you don't know them.

One such person was a grey-bearded, long-haired gentleman who testified frequently when I was a grand jury foreman. He worked for the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department.  He frequently risked his life, but seemed kind and gentle.  

I think we were both amused that the guy administering the oath looked almost as scruffy as the witness. We always shared a smile. Sometimes made each other laugh. He always testified clearly and concisely. I never had to ask a follow-up question to make sure he covered some required detail. I think everyone liked him.

Commentary: New Mexico has a lot to offer, and we all share in the benefits of the state’s beautiful land and clean water, roads and bridges, and public services like education, health care, and public safety. We should all share in the responsibility of paying for them, too, but we don’t. Corporations get a big pass here in the Land of Enchantment. Not only did federal reform give a huge tax break to big businesses this past year, but here in New Mexico, we’ve given away more and more of our tax revenue over time in the form of corporate handouts. We’ve also allowed multi-state corporations to play shell games with the profits they earn here. The result? Our state has less money to invest in the things that corporations really care about – modern and robust infrastructure, a well-trained workforce, a market for their goods, and a quality of life that makes people want to live here. So, hard-working New Mexicans are shouldering more of the responsibility for paying for the services that people and corporations alike depend upon in order to thrive.

Allies Move to Block High-Level Radioactive Waste Targeted for New Mexico

Jan 29, 2019

  Commentary: Ten organizations* and two industry groups** blasted Holtec International's application*** to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a license to build and operate the world's largest nuclear waste dump in New Mexico. The waste, from commercial nuclear power is currently at the reactor sites where it was produced. Opening a high-level waste dump, if licensed, would lead to tens of thousands of ongoing high level radioactive waste shipments on rail, truck and boat for decades. Deadly containers would pass through nearly 90% of U.S. Congressional districts including neighborhoods, cities, farmlands, lakes, rivers and ocean-fronts. The waste is the hottest, most concentrated atomic waste from the nuclear fuel chain, misleadingly dubbed "spent" fuel.  This radioactive waste can cause death in minutes if unshielded, and remains radioactive for literally millions of years; it is one of the most deadly materials on Earth.

New Mexico Must Focus On Boosting Our Outdoor Economy

Jan 29, 2019

Commentary: Outdoor recreation activities and associated expenditures by people engaging in leisure time activities remains a mostly untapped reservoir of economic potential for a New Mexico economy. We are continuously challenged to find new revenue streams to pay for education, infrastructure, health care, and the myriad demands on state funds. As concerns emerge that protect and preserve our fragile natural resources of air, soil and water while creating a sustainable valued sector of the New Mexico economy, this initiative can very possibly be a major part of the state’s economic development strategy. While a detailed accounting of all private and community wide benefits and costs associated with expansion of this outdoor recreation sector, which provides more jobs than the oil and gas industry nation-wide, is still to be fully developed. By focusing on the outdoor sector by the state’s leaders can provide a sustainable addition and even a mode of transition from reliance on the energy extraction industry.    

Republican Legislators Call on District Judge to Resign

Jan 28, 2019

Commentary: Republican Legislators are calling on state district judge Louis McDonald to resign after sentencing a drunken driver to only three years in jail for a crash that killed two innocent New Mexicans. Last Friday, Judge McDonald handed down the sentence to Christie Noriega after she plead guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide by vehicle and aggravated driving under the influence.

Addressing Corruption In Mexico

Jan 28, 2019

Commentary: I watched with horror the video coverage of the January 18 gasoline line explosion that took place in Tlahuelilpan, Mexico, which is in the state of Hidalgo, north of Mexico City. At the time of this writing, 85 people have been confirmed dead. The Mexican government has reported that the lines were breached by people stealing gasoline. Mexico has long struggled with thieves who steal gasoline from these lines and sell the product on the black market. This has been a common practice in Mexico. It has been reported that from January through October 2018, fuel lines have been illegally broken into 12,581 times or more than 40 times per day by gasoline thieves. 

Goodman: Trump's Pointless And Devastating Shutdown

Jan 27, 2019
Peter Goodman

Commentary: For weeks, Donald Trump has behaved like a sulking rich kid who'll take his football home if he doesn't like how the game was going. 

 

Before he suddenly blinked Friday, Trump's pointless and devastating shutdown did us deep and lasting damage. I hope he got sufficiently burned that he'll approve whatever compromise his Republican pals and the Democrats reach in these three weeks; but there's no guarantee!

 

Trump owned this shutdown. He welcomed it, and admitted to owning it, before walking out on Democratic Congressfolk one day. He's refused to budge from “$5.7 billion for a border wall” even though experts and most border residents find that simplistic, even counterproductive. 

KUNM

  Commentary: On Monday, January 28th, hundreds of workers, immigrant families and their allies from across New Mexico will gather in Santa Fe, NM for Immigrant & Workers' Day of Action 2019. NM Comunidades en Acción y De Fe (CAFe) will join partner organizations like Somos Un Pueblo Unido, the ACLU-NM, and the NM Dream Team at the state capital for a day of marching and legislative visits.

Another New Mexico dog injured in leghold trap

Jan 25, 2019

Commentary: SANTA FE—Fibel was brought into the Santa Fe Animal Shelter “cut, bruised, and swollen” after having been found in a leghold trap on January 6. According to a Santa Fe County Sheriff report, Fibel “had been causing problems” for an Edgewood man “and had been going onto his property.” The report states that the man “had set the foot trap up for Coyotes that has [sic] been giving him problems.” Fibel was trapped off of the man’s property.

Fibel is at least the fifth dog to be caught in a trap in New Mexico during the current trapping season, though there is no official reporting mechanism. Several of these incidents have raised the profile of trapping on public lands across the state. Kekoa was caught in Valencia County and ended up losing his leg. Ranger had to be euthanized after horrific injuries to his leg, paw, and hind quarters. Roxy died in a snare while her owner struggled to save her. Legislators are introducing a bill to ban recreational and commercial trapping on public land. The legislation is being called “Roxy’s Law.”

U.S. Senator Tom Udall D-NM

Commentary: Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, along with U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.)Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.)Tina Smith (D-Minn.)Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.)Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), andBrian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced the Indian Programs Advance Appropriations Act (IPAAA) to protect essential federal and tribal programs from the detrimental impacts of budgetary uncertainty caused by government shutdowns and short-term funding packages.

 

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