Thursday, March 19, 2015

Daylight Saving Fun Conceals NM Dark Side, Heinrich Enters Session's Final Hours Fray, BernCo DA Race Heats Up Early And A Lawmaker's Catnip 

The disconnect in Santa Fe is not going unnoticed by readers. The hype over the proposal to take the state off of daylight saving time prompted this comment:

Given the state is losing population, ranks among the worst in poverty, worst in child welfare, has tent cities of homeless springing up in the state's largest city, the burning issue of the legislative session is whether New Mexico stays on daylight savings time. Good for you, Merry Roundhouse.

The daylight savings bill has no chance of being approved by the full Legislature or the Feds but, hey, it's a lot more fun to talk about than those other downer topics. . .

Dem US Sen. Martin Heinrich joins the legislative fray in the final days. He comes with this:

Look at the legislation that Governor Martinez and the GOP-controlled State House are pushing –Lower wages for hard-working New Mexicans; Extreme restrictions on a woman’s personal health care decisions; Taxpayer-funded giveaways to out of state corporations. . . Our Democratic leaders in Santa Fe are fighting every day to bring jobs to New Mexico, improve our children’s access to high-quality education and ensure a more secure future for all New Mexicans. . .Will you to chip in $5 right now to help strengthen our Democratic Party?

Like the Senate Democrats who seemed to have awakened to the threat of the Guv's political machine to them in 2016, Heinrich is perhaps also seeing that if the machine is not slowed now, someday he'll find himself in the middle of its path.


The behavioral health shake-up engineered by the Martinez administration continues to reverberate. This report explains the political relationship between health giant United Healthcare and the Governor and what role it may have played in the controversy. It's another case of follow the money. The Santa Fe Reporter piece is a long and complicated read. We go to reader Pete Evans for synthesis and analysis:

A relationship with a giant out-of-state insurance company, not a fight against “waste and fraud,” was what drove Susana Martinez’s plans for the destruction of local behavioral health providers and the change over of our Medicaid system to an old, expensive, and complicated version of managed care that did not work when first introduced to New Mexico back in 1997. 

Learning that Martinez received $25,000 in campaign contributions from United Healthcare, which then profited from her shut down of local providers, is a disturbing new angle on what is already a sad story of cronyism at the expense of the health and mental health of New Mexicans. The shutdown has cost the taxpayers millions of dollars, put hard-working New Mexicans out of jobs, and—in a state that leads the nation in its death toll due to alcohol, drugs, and suicide—rendered thousands of our most vulnerable citizens without care. As the Arizona companies that Martinez rewarded with contracts pull out, leaving the Southern part of the state without behavioral health services, it seems like it’s past time to shift the focus of the “waste and fraud” investigation to the administration.


If Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg decides to seek an unprecedented fifth, four year term next year, she's going to have her hands full. Fellow Democrat and ABQ native Raúl Torrez is already on the campaign trail raising money and prepared to challenge Brandenburg in a Dem primary, if that's what it takes.

Torrez, a trial attorney and former assistant U.S Attorney who also has worked for the state attorney general's office, has scheduled his campaign kick-off for next Wednesday. He is picking up early support form former US Senator Fred Harris and ex-Lt. Governor Diane Denish.

It could be an interesting battle. Brandenburg was criticized for years for not being tougher over the many fatal ABQ police shootings, but more recently has won much praise--and the wrath of APD--for filing murder charges against two officers for the fatal 2014 shooting of camper James Boyd. Also, Brandenburg has in the past used personal assets to make sure her campaigns are well-financed. No GOP contenders have yet announced for DA.


They just can't help it. Tax cuts to state House Republicans is catnip. Even House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Harper of Rio Rancho can't help himself. And that's getting him tied up in knots.

First, Harper grabs the state's attention by proposing the elimination of nearly 400 tax exemptions so the job-thwarting gross receipts tax can be lowered to 2 percent. But now in the final hours of the session, the catnip is getting to him. So what's he doing? He's proposing more business tax incentives and extending an exemption.

Even conservative Four Corners GOP Senator Bill Sharer calls the bevy of exemptions, incentives and tax credits "rattlesnakes" that in the future are going to drain the state.

Jason Harper, for failing to keep your tongue untied and your catnip habit under control, you've just been bitten by a serious-sized Alligator.

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