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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Governing By The Polls, The Obamacare Boon, Big Student PARCC Protests But No Susana Comment And Back In The Lobbyists Payday Loan Lair 

Republicans are calling state Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez an obstructionist for not giving controversial measures like third grade retention and repealing driver's license for undocumented immigrants a fast path to the full Senate Floor. They cite as a main reason public opinion polls that show a large majority of the public supports the bills. But hold on. The public also by a wide margin supports a sizable increase in the minimum wage and also a constitutional amendment that would tap the state's vast Permanent Fund for very early childhood programs. We don't see the R's agreeing with the polls on those two items and urging immediate passage. . .

If we want to run the government via public opinion poll why not just disband the Legislature and have a mass gathering at the Pit where the public could give thumbs up or thumbs down to bills posted on the scoreboard?. . .

Thousands of students across the state cut class and march in protest of the new PARCC exam--making national news--and Gov. Martinez is not interviewed for a reaction by the press or TV media? Gosh, back in the day we would have camped out at the Mansion until we got our direct quote. Well, maybe like KOB-TV's Tom Joles we just don't fit into the "modern newsroom.". . .

A reader writes of the news broken here this week that Beverlee McClure, head of the NM Association of Commerce and Industry, is looking to leave the state and become chancellor for the Saint Louis Community College:

She is leaving because of the economy? Really? You don't think the ACI board may have been embarrassed by her publishing an online, soft porn novel has anything to do with this being an opportune time for her to leave?

You mean Obamacare has been a boon for our state?

The Affordable Care Act has not only resulted in lower rates of uninsured people in New Mexico, but has also boosted the state's health care industry. According to a new Gallup report, New Mexico's rate of uninsured people dropped by 4.9 percent last year — to 15.3 percent from 20.2 percent in 2013.

PRIMARY GATOR

From the Roundhouse, we get this from a Senior Alligator on the GOP proposal to move the state's primary election from June to March:

Joe, In discussing the desire to change the date of the primary election so the Governor can be more relevant in the national scene, your column reveals an interesting trend among the modern Republican leadership. When the Democrats wanted to raise Gov.  Richardson’s star, they created a process where the party could opt out of the publicly-financed primary and hold their own, privately-funded presidential caucus system. When the modern Republican leadership of this state wants to raise Susana Martinez’s star, they put forward a proposal for the public coffers to pay for it, and worry not about the chaos they hoist on the rest of the political process.

Chances of the Legislature approving a new primary date? You've heard this one: slim to none, and slim just left town.

LOBBYIST LAIR

We wondered yesterday about all those high-powered lobbyists (over a dozen) hired to defend the payday loan industry and whether their work was all done for this session now that bills to rein in the interest rates the industry charges have been left for dead. Well, it seems their work is not quote done. Reader Karen Meyers has this eye-opener on what the lobbying corp now has its eyes on:

Joe: While the 3 bills to limit interest rates at 36% for consumer loans have all been killed in committee, there are 2 industry bills that would allow interest rates up to 330% for installment loans and over 1200% for refund anticipation loans. These bills are still making their way through the Legislature. The refund anticipation loan bill would make it legal to charge over 1200% interest on a short term loan secured by a borrower’s tax refund. Both bills are intended to undermine the New Mexico Supreme Court’s decision in the State of New Mexico v. B& B Investment Group ruling that excessive interest rates and loan origination practices violate New Mexico public policy. In that case, the Supreme Court struck down loan interest rates of 1100% to 1500% and applied a default rate of 15% and ordered restitution for consumers. As a result, the industry has mounted a well-funded effort to enact laws that will protect them against legal challenges in the future.

1200 percent on a loan! If that gets through, the lobbyists responsible will be hired by the Mob.

NO MICROPHONE

Mikey Weinstein--who has often been in the news for his national group--the Military Religious Freedom Foundation--says he's having a hard time getting on conservative radio talker KKOB-AM to promote a speaking engagement. He and his PR firm say a talk show host has dubbed Republican Weinstein "anti-Christian." The PR firm says:

Mikey Weinstein is not "anti-Christian.” Indeed, half of his own family are practicing Christians. . . Weinstein's presentation at the Jewish Community Center of ABQ on Thursday, March 12 will cover the dangers. . . of religious extremism and anti-semitism in the US Military. Mikey will be speaking on the role of Dominionists in the Armed Forces. Dominionists are fundamentalist Christians whose beliefs and practices threaten the separation of church and state embedded in the Constitution. Moreover, their beliefs and practices present a threat to U.S. foreign policy objectives in regions where service members operate.

Former NM Gov. Gary Johnson is listed by Weinstein's foundation as a member of its advisory board.

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