The most significant expansion of national parks in decades includes a new park and greater protection for one of New Mexico’s most unique wild places. In one of its final votes of 2014, Congress approved the creation of new public lands for New Mexico. the Valles Caldera preserve will be transferred from its current quasi-public management model as a national preserve to the National Park Service and New Mexico will join Washington and Tennessee in creating the tri-state Manhattan Project National Park to tell the story of the birth of the atomic age. From the Los Alamos Monitor:
With today’s Senate passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, Congress has approved the most significant expansion of the National Park System in nearly three decades. The legislation includes the approval of Valles Caldera National Preserve and the Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Las Alamos as well as Hanford, Wash., and Oak Ridge, Tenn.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a move most political watchers didn’t see coming, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi today chose New Mexico’s own Rep. Ben Ray Luján as the new chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).
This is a big deal. The DCCC fundraises, recruits candidates, and organizes races seen as crucial to Democrats increasing their numbers in the House. This move substantially raises Rep. Luján’s political profile — who was just elected to his fourth term in the U.S. House from NM’s 3rd Congressional District — especially going into 2016 when Democrats are hoping a more favorable electorate will see them increase their caucus numbers. Democratic Representatives Donna Edwards (Maryland), Jim Himes (Connecticut), Jared Polis (Colorado), and Joaquin Castro (Texas) were previously thought to be in line for the position.
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.
NEWS FROM U.S. SENATOR TOM UDALL
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE BEN RAY LUJÁN
Udall, Luján Announce Over $5.1 Million for Wireless Service for Navajo Nation and Picuris Pueblo
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 4, 2014
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall and U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján announced that the Federal Communications Commission will award over $5.1 million to support mobile broadband service in areas of the Navajo Nation and Picuris Pueblo lacking wireless coverage. Through a reverse auction bidding process designed to maximize the expansion of wireless coverage, the FCC allocated a total of $5,149,628 to Smith Bagley, Inc. and Commnet Wireless, LLC for mobile broadband service at Picuris Pueblo in Taos County and on the Navajo Nation, which spans New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Of the total award, more than $2 million will support wireless deployment over the next three years to 2,096 people living in New Mexico.
The FCC created the Tribal Mobility Fund as part of its reform of the Universal Service Fund. Through the initial phase of the fund, the FCC awarded a total of $49.8 million in one-time support to companies across five states that agreed to build 3G or 4G mobile broadband networks for currently underserved Tribal lands.
Both Udall and Luján have strongly supported the expansion of broadband and wireless technology to Tribal and rural communities to help spur the growth of businesses and increase educational opportunities.
“Wireless coverage not only keeps us connected but can truly save lives during an emergency, ” Udall said. “Wireless service in Tribal communities is vital for safety and security and to connect people and businesses around the world.
AFT NEW MEXICO ANNOUNCES 2014 STATEWIDE ENDORSEMENT
AFT New Mexico, which represents over 23,000 educators and is one of the largest unions in the state, has announced statewide endorsements, including its endorsement of Howie Morales for Governor. “Howie Morales is an educator and a strong advocate for our students. He understands New Mexico’s unique history, challenges and potential and has expertise in education policy. Under the current administration, we have seen an all-out assault on our students, schools and educators. It is time for a governor who will put our students and our state first,” says AFT New Mexico President Stephanie Ly.
ABORTION COVERAGE IN HEALTH LAW: Voting 227 for and 188 against, the House on Jan. 28 passed a Republican bill (HR 7) that would ban subsidized insurance policies that cover abortion from the Affordable Care Act’s state and federal marketplaces. The bill would prohibit any use of federal funds, including tax credits, to subsidize premiums for such policies. Critics call this an overreach because the ACA already requires policyholders to pay the premium share that applies to reproductive services. But backers said the “separate payment” requirement is being widely disregarded.