Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Clock Ticking Down On Santa Fe Session; "All Or Nothing" Politics Still Issue With Licenses, Plus: More Last Minute Roundhouse Action 

The clock is ticking louder in Santa Fe as the 2012 session enters its penultimate day. Here's what's catching our eye in these final hours....

You mean this is the measure cracking down on driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants that the Guv and the conservative press say is a waste of time? From Senate Dem leader Tim Jennings:

The stricter residency requirements would require foreign nationals to present an individual tax identification number, proof of identity in the form of a passport or a consular ID, two proofs of residency in New Mexico for at least six months, fingerprint cards, and notarization on all documents. The bill would also require foreign nationals to renew their licenses every year--not every four or eight like the current law. There are also additional 3rd and 4th degree felonies created for falsifying or accepting fake documents. These additions to the law will allow for the removal of fraudulently obtained licenses and help deter fraud in the future.

The bill passed the Senate but the Guv, the conservative press and fearful Dems in the State House, joining with the R's, are demanding a complete repeal of the driver's license law. They are not going to get it--for the third time--yet they are leaving on the table this bill that would make these licenses much tougher to get. When you have government divided between the two parties you (and the citizenry) get nothing when politics becomes "all or nothing." And that's the disease afflicting both Santa Fe and Washington. DC where we are spending our time this week.

And leave it to the venerable Senator Jennings--the president pro tem and in the power game since '79--to tell it like it is as the panic button is pushed in Santa Fe. He comes with this as a noon Thursday deadline for adjournment of this 30 day session looms:

This is a budget session. That's all that's supposed to happen here and when you open it up really broad, and add a huge number of subject matter into the process, then that tends to ball things up.

In other words, you need to cut your deals on legislation apart from the state budget before the session starts. Why does the Fourth Floor have such a difficult time getting that? Or is the point not to get anything, but only to kick up dust?

And the job Jennings pointed out is paramount--getting a state budget--is complete. The $5.6 billion document is on the way to the Guv. It is basically a status quo budget, allowing for a $200 million or so increase in state spending.


From Fred Nathan of Think New Mexico:

Joe, I wanted to respond to the political Alligator who suggested that somehow the constitutional amendment to increase qualifications for Public Regulation Commissioners is being opposed as a "farewell gift" to NM House Speaker Ben Lujan. I am familiar with this bill and can tell you first-hand that the Speaker could not be more supportive. First, he assigned all three constitutional PRC constitutional amendments to the appropriate committees where he insured that they received a prompt and full hearing and in each case they were voted out unanimously. Then he voted on the floor for all three PRC constitutional amendments. In addition, several members of the Speaker's staff have been extremely helpful working with Think New Mexico from the start. If this is "opposition," we could use more of it.


Reader Joe Barela in Rio Rancho writes:

I think that the readers of your blog might find this survey of New Mexico school superintendents interesting and insightful. They grade the performance of Sec. of Education-designate Hanna Skandera. I hope that you can make it available to them through this link.

Suffice it to say that the controversial Hanna did not get many passing grades from the supers.

Susana says Hanna is here to stay, even if she is her only cabinet secretary not to be confirmed by the state Senate. Skandera has done nothing if not been a lightning rod for the Guv, drawing scorn that may have been directed at the Guv. That's worth some Guv love.


What happened to the daily dispatch from the ABQ Chamber of Commerce during this 30 day session? Insiders liked the updates with a pro-biz slant, but they've disappeared. The Chamber had rocky relations in the early going of Governor Martinez's term, with our sources reporting there was pressure placed on longtime Chamber director Terri Cole to get right with the Guv. So what about the newsletter? A business Alligator tells us:

It is my understanding that prior to this year's legislative session the ABQ Chamber vetted their issues positions through the Governor's office in order to be in lock step with Susana. As for the newsletter, they are sending out updates, but only to a select group of people.

Our sources earlier informed that the Chamber board felt heat when Cole parted company with the Guv's team on raising the state unemployment tax. She was for it and the Guv was against. Now the Chamber and Guv are always on the same page so who needs a newsletter that might send the ship into stormy weather again? But might not the membership of the state's largest biz group appreciate the Chamber's traditionally candid updates on Santa Fe happenings? They might.


No one can be more worried that President Obama will coast to victory in New Mexico than the managers of the major TV stations here. Not that they're against him. It's just that a boring contest could mean the loss of millions of dollars in advertising revenue:

Well-financed super-PACs are expected to spend heavily in battleground states this year, and while viewers may get tired of the onslaught of negative ads, the spending could be a boon for local television stations. Total spending on federal elections topped $5 billion in 2008, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Well, even if the Prez race here doesn't pan out and Obama doesn't have a tough time here, there is still the US Senate race which should attract plenty of PAC money. One other factor--a lot of PAC's like to throw money at the TV stations here in an election year because the cost is much lower to reach an entire state than other regions. To that ABQ TV bosses say, "throw away."


State Dems say the party's national chair--Florida Rep.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz--will soon be here:

Democratic National Chair Wasserman Schultz will be in New Mexico Tuesday, Feb. 21 at Jazzbah ABQ from 4-5 pm. For more information please call Matt at (505) 830-3650


We ran into Bernalillo County Democratic Party Chair Ana Canales on the campaign trail recently. She's busy preparing for the February 25 convention of county Dems that will select delegates to the big statewide pre-primary convention to be held in mid-March. Ana is pictured with Marilyn Hill owner of Hill2 Consulting. Said Canales:

We used to ride the train to work in Santa Fe together until Susana booted us out.

Well, no one is going to accuse the chairwoman of being shy.

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