KUNM

People Power And Democracy

The People, Power and Democracy project examines ethics, transparency and accountability in state government.

We are a collaborative, multi-media partnership between KUNM, New Mexico PBS, New Mexico In Depth and the New Mexico News Port. 

 

Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook.

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The People, Power and Democracy project is funded by the Thornburg Foundation and by contributions from KUNM listeners. 

Ways to Connect

Ed Williams

A national bus tour protesting Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act is passing through New Mexico. The Save My Care campaign held a rally in Albuquerque Wednesday.

BruceBlaus via Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons License

Lawmakers advanced a bill Wednesday that would require health insurance providers to cover birth control. The federal Affordable Care Act already requires this, but the proposal will keep birth control covered in New Mexico, even if Congress repeals the ACA.

Clever Cupcakes via Flickr / Creative Commons

 

KUNM Callin Show 2/16 8a: New Mexico expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and the number of people covered by the program will grow to more than 900,000 by the end of June. That's about 44 percent of the state's population.

Proposals Would Require More Info From Lobbyists

Feb 10, 2017
revisorweb via Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons License

 


Lobbyists would have to provide more information about their activities if several measures pass the state legislature in Santa Fe this year.

Arianna Sena

KUNM Call In Show 2/9 8a: With fresh leadership in the state Legislature has come new enthusiasm for reforms aimed at cracking down on potential corruption and bringing more transparency to government. Lawmakers have already voted to advance some of these proposals. Will they pass? Would a statewide ethics commission make you more confident in the integrity of our political system? 

Joe Gratz via Flickr CC

Public defenders are strapped for cash, and some are saying things are so tight, it’s creating a constitutional crisis for New Mexicans facing charges. The Public Defenders Office made its case for more funding at the Roundhouse on Monday.

Tax Credits via Flickr / Creative Commons

State lawmakers in Santa Fe are wrestling with a fiscal crisis. And the debate is familiar: cut spending or raise taxes in order to balance the budget. How would voters solve this problem?

Lawmakers Consider Automatic Voter Registration Bill

Jan 30, 2017
WyoFile via Flickr / Creative Commons License

The state Motor Vehicle Division would pull info on drivers and register them to vote—if they are eligible—according to a bill that is being considered by lawmakers in Santa Fe during this year’s legislative session.

Illustration by ccPixs.com

 

KUNM Call In Show 1/26 8a: Lawmakers have converged on Santa Fe for a two-month session during which their most pressing problem will be fixing a big hole in the state’s budget. This week we’ll talk about the governor’s proposal to cut already trimmed state funding and ask state employees to pay more into their retirement funds. We'll hear from Democratic lawmakers who say it’s not fair to make workers pay more before eliminating tax breaks for the wealthy and big business. 

JHarrelson

Governor Susana Martinez gave her State of the State address Tuesday in Santa Fe. We'll have details during All Things Considered on KUNM. You can read her prepared remarks below. 

Thanks to New Mexico PBS for partnering with us on this coverage. Find analysis as it continues below, livestreaming from New Mexico PBS.

Arianna Sena

Gov. Susana Martinez stood before the state’s lawmakers to give her sixth State of the State address on Tuesday. She called for transparency and good government. 

Heath Haussamen / New Mexico In Depth

Gov. Susana Martinez delivered this year’s State of the State address on Tuesday, which also marked the start of the legislative session. 

Rusty Blazenhoff / Creative Commons

The state Department of Health has struggled to quickly process applications for the medical cannabis program, and supplies sometimes run short. Lawmakers have proposed a bill that could address those issues and improve access for patients.

Ken Teegardin / Creative Commons via Flickr

Governor Susana Martinez designed a budget plan to close the state's funding shortfall, while sticking by her vow to avoid tax increases. The plan was announced Tuesday. It preserves funding for economic development and public safety, while deepening cuts at the Legislature and state universities. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Thousands of untested sexual assault evidence kits have piled up around the state, most of them in Albuquerque. One measure that’s been filed ahead of next week’s legislative session would pitch in some state funds to get them tested.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

KUNM Call in Show 1/12 8a: State lawmakers return to Santa Fe next week for a 60-day session during which they'll have to make some tough decisions about the budget, education, criminal justice, government accountability and more. 

Priorities For The Special Session

Sep 26, 2016
Gwyneth Doland

KUNM Call In Show 9/29/ 8a: Governor Susana Martinez expected to soon call lawmakers back to Santa Fe for a special session. They must deal with a budget deficit from the last fiscal year and a projected drop in revenue for the current fiscal year. But the governor also wants them to consider her proposal to bring back the death penalty in some cases. New Mexico abolished the death penalty in 2009.

New Mexico’s unique way of paying for public infrastructure projects has been under fire lately. Critics say lawmakers often divert money as political pork, at the expense of statewide construction projects. 

Now some  government officials are taking steps to address the problem at the local level. 

Arianna Sena

Polls show New Mexicans believe their government is corrupt. State lawmakers say that while there may be a few bad apples, the system we have is working.

But the facts show just the opposite: New Mexico has the widest gap in the country between the laws on the books and the way those laws are actually enforced, according to a 2015 report from the Center for Public Integrity.

Arianna Sena

During the 2016 legislative session, the People, Power and Democracy project tracked efforts to address ethics, accountability and money in politics. This year lawmakers met for only 30 days and were charged first and foremost with preparing a state budget. Most of the bills we followed failed, but many sponsors and advocacy groups pledged to return again in the longer 2017 session and try a gain. Here’s a summary of the proposals we watched most closely.

What Passed

House webcasts to be archived

https://www.flickr.com/photos/87913776@N00/460375914

Over the past few years New Mexico has used short-term solutions to balance the budget without raising taxes. But if oil and gas prices stay low, it will become more and more of a challenge to find the money the state needs to pay the bills.

Raising at least some taxes might not be politically popular, but Sen. John Arthur Smith, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, argues it’s the fiscally conservative thing to do. And he wants to start with the gas tax.

TaxRebate.org.uk via Flickr / Creative Commons License

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas on Monday brought felony charges against a former state senator accused of using his office to make money on a land deal.

Zack McCarthy via CC

In front of a group of commercial real estate developers, Gov. Susana Martinez signed a bill she said will make the campaign finance system more accurate and transparent, and make it easier for the public to access the information.

Gwyneth Doland

KUNM Call In Show Thu. 2/25 8a:  

State legislators passed a budget, created a REAL-ID driver's license fix, cracked down on DWI and child porn and advanced bail reform. But did they do anything to reverse the tide of indicators that New Mexicans have lost faith in state government? We look at what lawmakers did, or didn't do, to restore the public trust. 

Chris Goldberg via Flickr, Creative Commons

The NM Legislature wrapped up another session. KUNM's Chris Boros speaks with Gwyneth Doland about what happened and what didn’t happen.

Arianna Sena

Lawmakers are wrapping up a 30-day session in Santa Fe Thursday. They’ve hammered out a budget, moved forward on some crime-fighting bills and spent time debating anti-corruption proposals. 

tomwsulcer / Creative Commons License

A state House panel on Tuesday approved a bill that would give political candidates and elected officials clearer guidelines on how they can spend money from their campaign accounts. It's been an embarrassing problem for the state.

Lobbyist Reform Proposal Fails

Feb 17, 2016
Marissa Higdon

A senate committee killed a proposal Tuesday that would have required lobbyists to disclose more about how they influence lawmakers in Santa Fe.

Arianna Sena

The state Senate halted an attempt to create an ethics commission on Tuesday that would have overseen the legislative and executive branches.

revisorweb via Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons License

The People, Power and Democracy project is focusing on state government ethics and transparency in the 2016 legislative session. Correspondent Gwyneth Doland spoke with KUNM's Chris Boros.

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