Rep. Ben Ray Lujan to travel district & highlight STEM education

Representative Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) embarked today on a tour of his Third Congressional district to highlight the importance of STEM education in New Mexico. “STEM” stands for “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics” and has become a major focus of education in the 21st-Century.

NM GOP Copy-Pastes from Koch Playbook. Literally.

The latest RPNM email blast is a straight copy-paste of Koch’s opinion piece, illustrating how closely aligned the Republican Party (both national and state) is with the Koch Brothers’ ideals of unimpeded government de-regulation, the promotion of pseudo-science to justify continued dependence on dirty energy, and a maniacal obsession on gutting health care reforms (using lies and half-truths).

Taxpayers have paid Gov $27,000+ in salary to attend out-of-state political fundraisers & events

Santa Fe –  Governor Susana Martinez is on track to be one of New Mexico’s most traveled governors, a new report from ProgressNow New Mexico finds. Though the governor’s administration has notoriously refused to provide travel records  (stories here, here, here, here and here) the chief executive or her security detail, a review of news reports, campaign event notices, and meeting announcements from across the country provide a look at the busy flying schedule for Martinez and the cost to taxpayers for that travel. Earlier this week, Governor Martinez’s administration went to court to say she is exempt from public records requests for her taxpayer-funded travel, including her contentious national fundraising trips. According to Steve Terrell of the Santa Fe New Mexican:
The Martinez administration contends court enforcement of the state Inspection of Public Records Act to make the governor and state agencies turn over travel records would violate the U.S. Constitution. Legal documents filed Monday in state District Court by lawyers representing Gov. Susana Martinez and some state agencies say the public records law is “pre-empted” by the Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution — and that the records being sought by The Associated Press would require a warrant under federal law.

Sen. Udall Touts NM’s Renewable Energy Potential in All-Night Climate Change Session

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) participated in an all-night session — last night and into early this morning — with his colleagues from the Senate Climate Action Task Force to raise awareness about climate change and urge Congress to act on this critical issue. Senator Udall noted that New Mexico and the Southwest are “at the bull’s-eye when it comes to climate change” but also pointed to the fact that New Mexico is already focusing on solutions and is poised to be a major player in renewable energy development.

Valentine’s Event to Benefit NM AIDS Services a Great Success

Last Friday night PROGRESSNOWNM & ArtBar teamed up for a different kind of Valentine’s Day event. We organized an art and singles auction at ArtBar’s downtown Albuquerque space and donated the proceeds to New Mexico AIDS Services, a wonderful organization that provides education and support services for people and communities affected by HIV/AIDS. A dozen singles — each paired with a piece of art from a local artist — were auctioned off over the course of the evening. We had a great turnout at the event and were able to raise over $2,700 for NM AIDS Services. PNNM’s own Nate and Rachael brought in $250 of that total all by themselves!

Dirty Downs Deal Gets A Hearing

 

PROGRESSNOWNM was in the committee room yesterday as the Senate Rules committee held a informational briefing session about the now-infamous Downs Deal and the improper handling of that deal by Governor Susana Martinez and her inner circle. It seems that by now most of the news outlets in the state, and even some outside the state, have run recaps of the process that granted a 25-year, multi-million dollar lease to the Downs at Albuquerque, but if you need a refresher take a look at these articles: Downs Doings (SF Reporter), Perception, reality, and the Downs deal (ABQ Journal), The Man Who Discovered Susana Martinez Could Also Be Her Downfall (National Journal — mostly about Jay McCleskey but still a great insight into the inner workings of the Martinez inner-circle). We recorded the entirety of Monday’s hearing and you can visit our YouTube page to watch all the action for yourself. Using the awesome power of Twitter, we compiled some of the highlights of what happened during the committee hearing yesterday and turned them into a play-by-play below:

Governor Susana Martinez & her consultant Jay McCleskey were both invited to testify at the hearing, neither showed. No Republicans were present in the committee when it began so Senate Rules was operating as a sub-committee. (Dan Mourning, the State Fair Manager, and Hector Balderas, the State Auditor, were also invited but did not attend.)
Senate Rules Committee starting hearing on NM State Fair troubles.

ICYMI: Highlights from Monday in the NM House

In case you weren’t glued to the nmlegis.gov webcasts or prowling the committee rooms in the Roundhouse yesterday, here are some highlights from the New Mexico House of Representatives for Monday, February 3, 2014:

House Highlights
Monday, February 3, 2014
On the Floor

House Bill 31 Affordable Housing Act Violations and Penalties, sponsored by Rep. Roberto “Bobby” Gonzales (D-Taos-42) has passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 61-0.  HB 31 amends the Affordable Housing Act to allow the timely sale of foreclosed or failed affordable housing projects without retaining the long-term affordability restrictions.  HB31 also allows the recovery of Mortgage Finance Authority investments in foreclosed or failed projects.  In addition to allowing the Attorney General to investigate alleged violations of the Act, HB31 provides and enables the AG to pursue civil and/or criminal penalties.  HB 31 now heads to the Senate. House Bill 57 Tax Refunds for Senior Services, sponsored by Rep. Jim Trujillo (D-Santa Fe-45) has passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 62-0.  HB 57 provides for an optional designation for tax refund contributions and is directed to provide the supplemental funding to enhance or expand senior services throughout the state.  The refunds will be paid to the North Central Economic Development District which will disburse the proceeds to various senior services programs. HB 57 now heads to the Senate. In Committee

House Bill 19 Update School Finance At-Risk Index as amended; sponsored by Rep. Luciano “Lucky” Varela (D-Santa Fe-48) received a unanimous Do Pass in the House Education Committee. HB 19 amends the Public School Finance Act to appropriate $12 million from the General Fund [GF] to the State Equalization Guarantee [SEG] for expenditure in FY15 to provide services to improve educational outcomes for “at-risk” students.  Changes will take place to the funding formula in the 2015-16 school years.  The bill also implements increased reporting requirements for school districts and charter schools on how they use the increased at-risk funding to close the achievement gap and improve student outcomes.