KUNM

2016 Legislature

Capital Outlay Reform Fails

Feb 13, 2016
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Lawmakers sidelined a proposal Friday to change the way New Mexico pays for public works projects.  

A broad coalition of business, labor and good government groups supported the proposal, which would have created a commission to evaluate and prioritize infrastructure projects.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

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The state’s attorney general cleared just about all of the providers accused of Medicaid fraud a couple of years ago—but the news didn’t come soon enough to keep many of their doors open.

Gwyneth Doland

The state auditor released a report Friday showing about $4 billion is sitting around across the state unspent—but it’s unclear whether that money could help with the current budget shortfall vexing lawmakers in Santa Fe.

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People, Power and Democracy is a project focusing on state government ethics and transparency.  Gwyneth Doland spoke with KUNM's Chris Boros.

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UPDATE: The Associated Press is reporting that New Mexico House Republicans and Senate Democrats say they have reached a compromise on a bail reform proposal.

Both sides spoke Friday at a press conference, with Republican Rep. David Adkins saying the bill crafted by Sen. Peter Wirth, a Santa Fe Democrat, is the "right piece of legislation to support."

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The state House voted Tuesday to create a statewide ethics commission. But will the proposal have time to get through the Senate? There are only eight days left in the session.

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Ride-booking companies like Uber and Lyft exist in a legal grey area in New Mexico. But a bill that would make them official passed the House this week.

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A new survey of New Mexico business leaders shows most think there is a real problem with money in politics in the state. And some business groups are getting serious about plans to clean up state government.

Commentary: When Will We Get An Ethics Commission?

Feb 5, 2016
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New Mexico is one of only 8 states that doesn’t have an ethics commission and lawmakers are considering a proposal to create one during the legislative session this year.

Viki Harrison of Common Cause New Mexico wants to know how big the scandal has to be before our state has one here? She asks, "What are we waiting for?"

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You can read Harrison's full length op-ed published by New Mexico In Depth here

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Many people complain that big public works projects aren’t getting done in New Mexico because the system we use to fund them is dominated by politics. But that could change as two proposed reforms of the capital outlay system gain momentum this legislative session.

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There are less two weeks left in the 30-day legislative session. People, Power and Democracy's Gwyneth Doland has been up in Santa Fe covering state government. She spoke with KUNM's Chris Boros. 

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The issue of transportation and capital outlay reform has been “front and center” during this year's 30-day legislative session in Santa Fe. Many say New Mexico’s capital outlay process is broken.

But as Paul Gessing of the Rio Grande Foundation says, it’s not just that. If New Mexicans are going to get the most ‘bang’ for their infrastructure buck, he says we must reform the way workers are paid on public works projects.   

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Mistrust of government is at an all-time high. As part of our People, Power and Democracy project, Gwyneth Doland is moderating conversations between state lawmakers, policy experts, and New Mexicans to explore questions like: What reforms would increase your trust in government?

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There were 5,406 untested sexual assault evidence kits in the state at the end of last year, according to the state auditor. A pair of bills to tackle the problem cleared their first hurdles on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

New Mexico Legislature

A plan to give individual voters more influence in elections hit a roadblock on Friday but is expected to get a hearing this week. The proposal (HJR 1) introduced by Rep. Carl Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, would amend the state constitution to create an independent citizen group that would be in charge of redistricting.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

The state Legislature is working up a budget, and one proposal on the table would cut more than $8 million from behavioral health services. Residents who’ve been deeply affected by drug use in their communities called on lawmakers Saturday, Jan. 30, not to cut the funding that combats it.

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Lawmakers in Santa Fe are nearing the halfway point of this 30-day session.  Gwyneth Doland of the People, Power and Democracy project spoke to KUNM's Chris Boros to discuss the status of a proposed constitutional amendment that would create an independent redistricting commission. 

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Lawmakers considered proposals Monday that would use a small share of the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund to pay for early childhood education, and the measures ran into familiar roadblocks.

For the past five years, some democratic lawmakers have tried to tap into the state’s $14 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund to pay for early childhood education programs.

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New Mexico’s 30-day legislative session is nearly at the half-way point. It’s a budget session where lawmakers focus on funding state government. Javier Benavidez of the Southwest Organizing Project says they’d like to see lawmakers take a laser focus to issues of poverty, injustice and inequality this year.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

    

The rate of drug overdose deaths—nationally and statewide—is racing up the charts, echoing HIV trends of 30 years ago, according to the CDC. That’s why demonstrators in Santa Fe on Saturday asked legislators not to erode resources that fight substance abuse. 

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New Mexico lawmakers are readying their infrastructure wishlists for this year’s session. But some believe the capital outlay system – that funds our roads, water systems and university buildings - is completely broken. Fred Nathan of Think New Mexico says more transparency and a merit-based system would be the best solution.

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It’s the second week of the 2016 state legislature and lawmakers are considering a range of measures to increase transparency and accountability in  government. Susan Boe of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government says, in a time of growing mistrust of public  officials, transparency is more important than ever.

Ed Williams

Wednesday was Public Health Day in Santa Fe. Two dozen organizations that work on issues of health, poverty and research were at the state capital to press for funding during the legislative budget session. 

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An House bill aimed at bringing New Mexico driver’s licenses into compliance with the federal REAL ID Act is advancing in Santa Fe. It would allow people who are in the U.S. illegally to get driver’s privilege cards instead of a driver's license.

Commentary: New Mexico Needs An Ethics Commission

Jan 26, 2016
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Political science research suggests there’s a link between how much you trust your government and whether you weigh in during elections.

Voter turnout in Albuquerque’s recent city council election was the lowest in decades, and UNM Political Science Professor Gabriel Sanchez says that’s just one example of a dangerously low level of civic engagement in New Mexico. Inspire greater confidence in public officials, he says, and more people will go out and vote. 

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New Mexico’s independent voters could be allowed to participate in primary elections if a proposed constitutional amendment is successful.

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Lawmakers in Santa Fe are considering a number of bills aimed at addressing child welfare this session. We're taking a look at what's going on in the Round​h​ouse, from ​strengthening ​child porn laws ​and ending​ childhood obesity to domestic violence.​

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A bill that uses liquor taxes to fund tuition assistance is set to expire next year. If that happens, students will have to dig even deeper into their pockets to pay for schooling. University of New Mexico students planned to raise the issue at the Roundhouse Monday.

Heath Haussamen / New Mexico In Depth

Governor Susana Martinez delivered her State of the State address to lawmakers on the opening day of the 2016 legislative session Tuesday.

Martinez said cracking down on crime is her top priority. She pointed to fatal shootings of police officers and crimes committed by “boomerang thugs” who’ve been in and out of jail.

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