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People Power And Democracy

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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

Internet Archives Book Images / Creative Commons via Flickr

State lawmakers proposed 32 changes to the New Mexico Constitution during this year’s 60-day legislative session. Only two passed – they’ll likely be approved by voters in 2018. But the state constitution is already 4.5 times longer than the federal one. So, what does it mean when a constitution looks more like a user’s manual than a clear, concise list of fundamental rights?

Hannah Colton

Education Secretary Hanna Skandera has been a champion of charter schools, but some lawmakers aren’t so sure. This session they proposed several reforms to New Mexico’s charter school system, which continues to be plagued by a lack of clarity and transparency at the state level.

Ethics And Transparency In The 2017 Legislature

Mar 22, 2017
Richie Diesterheft via Flickr / CREATIVE COMMONS

These are some of the major ethics and transparency measures that flew or floundered during this year's 60-day legislative session.

Arianna Sena/KUNM

KUNM Call In Show 3/23 8a: Call now toll-free 1-877-899-5866.  This year's 60-day legislative session wrapped up last weekend, but lawmakers may soon be called back by Governor Susana Martinez to continue debate on the state budget. We'll look at the latest news from the Roundhouse and we ask you to share what you think would make state government more accessible and accountable to everyday New Mexicans.

NMPBS

Interactive Event Tuesday 4/4 6p: Join the People, Power and Democracy project to share your thoughts on how to improve state government.

Arianna Sena/KUNM

A proposal that would prevent state and local police from detaining or arresting people who are in the U.S. illegally was scheduled to be heard on the Senate floor in Santa Fe this week. 

Openthreads via Flickr / Creative Commons

Gov. Susana Martinez lobbied top Democrats to approve a bill that would have created an exception to regulations about leases for state offices. Now some Democrats are calling for an investigation of what they call pay-to-play.  

Arianna Sena / Creative Commons

Who should investigate or prosecute controversial police use of force and shootings? That’s a problem that comes up in law enforcement departments everywhere. A bill introduced during this legislative session tries to address it, but the measure’s being hamstrung by this year’s budget crunch. 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ze_valdi/7556549414/

KUNM Call In Show 3/9 8a: Violent crimes have stolen headlines over the last year, while property crimes remain a persistently unpleasant part of life all over New Mexico. Lawmakers in Santa Fe are debating how to reduce crime—but with little money available to do it. Which ideas could reduce crime and save money? Which sound good but cost a lot and have no guarantee? And which proposals have more to do with politics than anything else? 

Measure Would Take Redistricting From Lawmakers

Mar 3, 2017
New Mexico Legislature mapping tool

The 2020 census is fast approaching and some lawmakers in Santa Fe are pushing for voting districts to be redrawn by an independent commission.

Hannah Colton

 

The Public Education Department has been unwavering in its focus on using standardized tests to “raise the bar” for education in New Mexico.

State Senators recently approved a resolution that proposes a new paradigm of student assessment.

Evaluating Teacher Evals In New Mexico

Feb 21, 2017
Hannah Colton/KUNM

New Mexico’s teacher evaluation system has seen fierce pushback from teachers unions since it was created by Governor Susana Martinez’ administration back in 2012. It uses student testing for 50 percent of a teacher’s rating; the other half is based on classroom observations, attendance and other measures.

The usefulness of accountability systems like New Mexico’s is in doubt from multiple sides of the education reform debate.

Night Owl City via Flickr / Creative Commons License

KUNM Call In Show 2/23 8a: Public education is one of the largest expenses for the state.  We'll compare out our state’s funding model to other states across the country and debate legislation introduced this year to address school funding. Where do you think the state should invest in education? How would you measure quality in public education? We'd like to hear from you, email callinshow@kunm.org or call in live during the show. 

Budget Crisis Hits New Mexico Classrooms

Feb 20, 2017
Hannah Colton/KUNM

In January, Governor Susana Martinez signed off on a plan to use $46 million from public schools' cash reserves to fill part of this year’s budget gap.

Education spending in New Mexico still hasn’t recovered from the 2008 recession, and as oil and gas revenues continue to stagnate, schools are bracing for more cuts. 

Bill To Create State Ethics Commission Moves Forward

Feb 17, 2017
ANNAfoxlover via Wikimedia Commons / public domain


A House committee in Santa Fe unanimously passed a measure Thursday that would create an independent state ethics commission.

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

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.

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