New Mexico Democrats Elect New Leadership Team

The Democratic Party of New Mexico has elected its’ leadership team for 2015-2017. Debra Haaland was elected Democratic Party of New Mexico State Chair. Juan Sanchez was elected State Vice Chair. Haaland was elected by a strong majority at the DPNM State Central Committee (SCC) meeting held in Albuquerque on Saturday, April 25. Also elected […]

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Doña Ana County Democrats Elect Their 2015-2017 Leadership Team

The Democratic Party of Doña Ana County has elected its’ leadership team for 2015-2017 Liz Rodriguez-Johnson has been elected Doña Ana County Democratic Party Chair Julian Alexander has been elected Doña Ana County Democratic Party Vice Chair District 33 Director – Mary Helen Ratje District 34 Director – Virginia Gomez District 35 Director – Eugene Alvarez District […]

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DPNM Legislative Wrap-Up

Dems held line on Governor’s extreme partisan agenda New Mexico Democrats began the 60 day session doing what Democrats always do: drafting and proposing common sense legislation that would help and benefit New Mexican families. Governor Martinez and state Republicans had other ideas that revolved around divisive wedge issues, like right to work for less […]

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Weekly Address: Pass the USA Freedom Act

In this week’s address, the President addressed critical pieces of national security business that remained unfinished when the Senate left town. This Sunday at midnight, key tools used to protect against terrorist threats are set to expire. The USA Freedom Act strikes a balance between security and privacy, reauthorizing important measures that give our national security professionals the authorities they use to keep us safe, while also implementing reforms that enhance the privacy and civil liberties of our citizens. But currently, a small group of senators is standing in its way.

The President asked Americans to speak with one voice to the Senate to put politics aside, put the safety of the American people first, and pass the USA Freedom Act now.

Watch and share President Obama’s weekly address.

Senators Udall, Heinrich Introduce Bill to Preserve and Expand Native American Languages

U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced yesterday they have introduced a bill to preserve endangered Native languages.

The Native Language Immersion Student Achievement Act creates a new grant initiative to establish or expand Native language immersion programs. The grants will support the revitalization and maintenance of Tribal languages while increasing educational opportunities for Native American students.

“Native language education fosters pride and a feeling of interconnectedness between generations and has been linked to higher academic achievement among Native youth. I’m proud to support funding for Native language immersion programs that are so important in New Mexico and across the country,” Udall said.

“Preserving Native languages are integral to maintaining cultural identity,” Heinrich said. “Instruction in these languages promotes creativity, boosts high school graduation rates and college enrollment, and yields long-term benefits outside the classroom. Fostering an environment where Native students are connected to their language makes them leaders in their community, and ensures their rich culture and traditions are handed down to future generations.”

The bill was led by Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.). Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) also cosponsored the measure.

The Native Language Immersion Student Achievement Act establishes a grant program under the Department of Education. The bill seeks to limit overhead costs and reduce the resource demands on Tribal and school administrators seeking language immersion funding.

Individual grant levels and lengths are flexible. The grant program totals $5 million per year for five years. The grants can be awarded to Tribes, Tribal organizations, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and public or private schools to establish or expand existing immersion classes for students ranging from Pre-K through post-secondary education levels.

All of the approximately 148 remaining Native languages that are still spoken in the United States are at the risk of extinction within 50-100 years unless preservation actions are taken.

Udall and Heinrich are longtime supporters of improving opportunities for students to study Native languages. They also have introduced the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act to provide grants to Native American language educational organizations to preserve disappearing Native languages in Indian Country. The bill reauthorizes the Native American Languages Program until 2020, and includes improvements to expand the program’s eligibility to smaller-sized classes and allow for longer grant periods.

Attorney General Balderas Announces $103K Settlement & Major Reforms with Credit Reporting Agencies

Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion Agree to Significant Changes

Attorney General Hector Balderas and 30 other state attorneys general today announced a major settlement with the three national credit reporting agencies — Equifax Information Services LLC, Experian Information Solutions Inc., and TransUnion LLC. Under the settlement, the credit reporting agencies have agreed to pay New Mexico $103,000 and to make a number of changes to their business practices to benefit consumers.

“This settlement is an important step that provides significant protections for consumers in New
Mexico,” Attorney General Balderas said. “We negotiated for years to achieve these changes,
and the results of our efforts will put greater control in the hands of New Mexico consumers over
this important piece of their financial lives.”

The settlement is the result of a multi-state investigation initiated in 2012 that focused on
consumer disputes about credit report errors; monitoring and disciplining of “data furnishers”
(providers of credit reporting information); accuracy of credit reports; and marketing of credit
monitoring products to consumers who call the credit reporting agencies to dispute information
on their credit report.

Under the settlement, the credit reporting agencies have agreed to increase monitoring of data
furnishers, to require additional information from furnishers of certain types of data, to limit
direct-to-consumer marketing, to provide greater protections for consumers who dispute
information on their credit reports, to limit certain information that can be added to a credit
report, to provide additional consumer education, and to comply with state and federal laws,
including the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Key provisions of the settlement include:

Higher standards for data furnishers:

  • The credit reporting agencies must maintain information about problem data furnishers
    and provide a list of those furnishers to the states upon request.
  • The credit reporting agencies and data furnishers must use a better, more detailed system
    to share data.

Limits to direct-to-consumer marketing:

  • The credit reporting agencies cannot market credit monitoring services to a consumer
    during a dispute phone call until the dispute portion of the call has ended.
  • The credit reporting agencies must tell consumers that purchasing a product is not a
    requirement for disputing information on their credits reports.

Added protections for consumers who dispute credit reporting information:

  • The credit reporting agencies must implement an escalated process for handling
    complicated disputes, such as those involving identity theft, fraud, or mixed files —
    where one consumer’s information is mixed with another’s.
  • Each credit reporting agency must notify the other agencies if it finds that one
    consumer’s information has been mixed with another’s.
  • The credit reporting agencies must send a consumer’s supporting documents to the data
    furnisher. (The credit reporting agencies implemented this change after the attorneys
    general initiated their investigation and raised the concern that the pertinent complaint
    documents were not being sent to the furnishers.)
  • Consumers may obtain one additional free credit report in a 12-month period if they
    dispute information on their credit report and a change is made as a result of the dispute.

Limits to certain information that can be added to a consumer’s credit report:

  • The credit reporting agencies are generally prohibited from adding information about
    fines and tickets to credit reports.
  • The credit reporting agencies cannot place medical debt on a credit report until 180 days
    after the account is reported to the credit reporting agency, which gives consumers time
    to work out issues with their insurance companies.
  • The credit reporting agencies must require debt collectors to provide the original
    creditor’s name and information about the debt before the debt information can be added
    to a credit report.

Additional consumer education:

  • The credit reporting agencies must tell consumers how they can further dispute the
    outcome of an investigation into a dispute, such as by filing a complaint with other
    agencies.
  • Each credit reporting agency must provide a link to its online dispute website on the
    website http://www.annualcreditreport.com, and the credit reporting agency’s dispute website
    must be free of ads and any marketing offers.

The changes required under the settlement will be implemented in three phases to allow the
credit reporting agencies to update their IT systems and procedures with data furnishers. All
changes must be completed by three years and 90 days following the settlement’s effective date.
Participating with New Mexico in the settlement are the attorneys general from the states of:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa,
Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada,
North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas,
Vermont, and Wisconsin.

District Attorney Mark D’Antonio & Office of the Attorney General to Seek Indictment of Former LCPD Officers for Holding Cell Incident

Today, the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General announced the completion of their review of the investigation conducted by the New Mexico State Police in reference to an incident which occurred on December 23rd, 2014, involving former Las Cruces Police Officers Richard Garcia and Danny Salcido. As a result of the review, District Attorney Mark D’Antonio and Attorney General Hector Balderas announced their offices will jointly prosecute Garcia and Salcido.

The Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General will go before the Grand Jury in June with evidence from the investigation.

Doña Ana County Democrats Commemorate Memorial Day

052809Frontsa1_1Today, Memorial Day, the Democratic Party of Doña Ana County joins our fellow Americans in commemorating the lives of those who have served in the cause of preserving the nation’s freedom. We pay honor to the fallen heros of every American conflict, from the fields of Lexington and Concord in 1775 to the mountain sides of Afghanistan. We honor the 2,800,000 Americans who gave their lives in service to their nation, and thank the forty-eight million Americans who have served in the United States Armed Forces since 1775 until today.

On this day we join, as we should on every day, in honoring the sacrifices of those, in the words of President Lincoln, who have borne the battle, and for their families, for the cause of freedom for all of us. In that spirit we call on all Americans to come together to remember the men and women who gave their lives, in every conflict, so that we might continue to live free, and to strive for a just and lasting peace in our world.

Originally known as Decoration Day for the practice of leaving memorials at the grave sites of fallen soldiers, today’s national holiday was first observed by freed African Americans in the south at the end of spring, beginning in 1865, as a remembrance of the lives of the fallen liberators of the Civil War, both black and white, who had fought for and won emancipation. Newspaper accounts of those early annual events led General John Murray of Waterloo, New York to propose a national celebration of the lives of all fallen soldiers.

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, as leader of the Grand Army of the Republic, the organization of Union Civil War veterans, issued G. A. R. General Order No. 11, establishing Decoration Day for the members, families and friends of the veterans organization. May 30, 1868 was chosen by General Logan because it was not the anniversary of a Civil War battle. By 1891 each of the northern states had established Memorial Day as a state holiday. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an Act of Congress, honoring the service of every soldier in every American military conflict.

 

Weekly Address: Honoring Our Fallen Heroes this Memorial Day

In this week’s address, the President commemorated Memorial Day by paying tribute to the men and women in uniform who have given their lives in service to our country.

The President will spend the first Memorial Day since the end of the war in Afghanistan at Arlington Cemetery, remembering the more than 2,200 American patriots who gave their lives in that conflict, as well as all of our fallen soldiers. The President asked that all Americans spend Monday honoring the memory and sacrifice of those heroes, and remain committed to the cause of freedom and the country for which they fought.

Watch and share President Obama’s weekly address.

Senators Udall and Heinrich Vote Against TPA

Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, voted against Trade Promotion Authority, which would give the administration fast-track authority for six years to move trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, through Congress with limited debate and no amendments. The Senate passed the measure by a vote of 62-37.

Senator Udall, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement after voting against Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) today:

“This legislation gives the administration the ability to speed up trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the largest free trade agreement ever negotiated, without adequate congressional oversight. Trade deals between nations have a direct impact on New Mexico families — affecting wages, and protections for labor, safety, environment and health for which workers have fought over decades. I voted no because I cannot support giving up my ability to represent New Mexicans’ interests in wide-ranging trade deals that will change the playing field on everything from worker safety to privacy to the open Internet.”

“This legislation gives the administration the ability to speed up trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the largest free trade agreement ever negotiated, without adequate congressional oversight. Trade deals between nations have a direct impact on New Mexico families — affecting wages, and protections for labor, safety, environment and health for which workers have fought over decades. I voted no because I cannot support giving up my ability to represent New Mexicans’ interests in wide-ranging trade deals that will change the playing field on everything from worker safety to privacy to the open Internet.”

Senator Heinrich released the following statement after voting against Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) today:

“Trade Promotion Authority is really just rebranded ‘fast-track’ legislation designed to allow trade deals to be pushed through without proper congressional oversight or scrutiny.

“TPA makes it difficult to ensure our competitors cannot manipulate their currency value to the detriment of American workers and small businesses, or to guarantee basic workplace protections like fair labor practices, safe work environments, and clean water for American workers.

“Like many hard-working New Mexicans, I strongly oppose TPA. You can count on the fact that I won’t give up the right to fight for American workers.”

Senators Udall, Heinrich Announce Funding to Support Health-Tech Expansion at Arrowhead Park

Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced that New Mexico State University will receive $488,000 in grant funding from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) for a study on the creation of a health care delivery and medical technology development cluster at Arrowhead Park in Doña Ana County. The funding will help New Mexico State University expand activities at the multi-disciplinary Arrowhead Park to better support the creation of startup companies focused on improving health care for New Mexicans and diversify New Mexico’s economy.

“Arrowhead Park is a great example of how bringing together researchers and entrepreneurs helps new businesses to take off and thrive,” Udall said. “This important investment in Arrowhead Park will help New Mexico businesses to innovate and diversify, creating new jobs for New Mexicans while improving health care services in the region.”

“This investment will spur innovation, diversify southern New Mexico’s economy, and lay a foundation to address and improve the health care needs of our families – including those in our rural, Hispanic, and tribal communities who are some of our most medically underserved populations,” Heinrich said. “Great things happen when businesses and researchers come together. I will continue to support opportunities like these to ensure our economy and communities thrive.”

The funding was awarded based on a competitive process through EDA’s Science and Research Park Development Grant program, which helps regions plan the creation or expansion of innovation centers. Arrowhead Park, located on roughly 115 acres at the southern end of New Mexico State University, is a public-private partnership that connects researchers and entrepreneurs to boost development in New Mexico and the Southwest. The park provides an entrepreneurial environment that offers space, facilities and services for technology-based businesses to innovate.

NM Congressional Delegation Introduces Bill to Expand Research on Rare Genetic Disease Affecting Hispanics

U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján, and Michelle Lujan Grisham announced they have introduced a bill to increase research, education and treatment for Cavernous Cerebral Malformations (CCM), an uncommon genetic blood vessel disease that impacts the brain and spinal cord, and affects people of Spanish descent, including many Hispanic New Mexicans. The lawmakers’ bill, the Cerebral Cavernous Malformations Clinical Awareness, Research and Education Act (CCM-CARE) would expand National Institutes of Health (NIH) research related to CCM through grants and programs to increase awareness, treatment and prevention of CCM.

The disease, also called Cavernous Angioma, was common among Spanish settlers in the Southwest, and the hereditary mutation that continues to cause it today has passed through 17 or more generations. CCM is characterized by vascular lesions that develop and grow within the brain and spinal cord. Individuals often are not aware they have the disease until they experience the onset of symptoms, which may include neurological deficits, seizures, stroke, or sudden death. An estimated 1.5 million people in the United States suffer from the disease, which is more prevalent among New Mexicans than any other population in the world, though other Southwestern states also have high rates of CCM. Due to limited research, there is currently little treatment for CCM besides surgery, which is an option only for some patients.

“Sadly Cerebral Cavernous Malformations is difficult to diagnose and has few treatment options, but this bill is an important step along the path toward developing a cure for the New Mexicans and their families who suffer from this disease,” said Udall, who has worked to raise awareness about CCM since he was a member of the House. “Boosting CCM research through expanded efforts and interagency collaboration will help to prevent, treat and ultimately cure this devastating disease.”

“Hispanics are disproportionately affected by Cavernous Angioma,” said Heinrich. “Expanding research and treatment centers across the country to identify, monitor, and treat individuals afflicted with this illness is an important step in improving the livelihoods of many New Mexicans and developing a cure.”

“This legislation takes critical steps to bolster research, education, and treatment of Cerebral Cavernous Malformations,” said Luján. “This devastating blood vessel disease is often inherited unknowingly, and New Mexico has the highest population density in the world. It’s time that we invest in research and programs to better understand this rare disease that continues to impact New Mexico families.”

“I’m proud to stand with the delegation to invest in research and raise awareness about the devastating impact CCM has, particularly among native New Mexicans,” Lujan Grisham said. “I will continue to work with my colleagues to support efforts to find a cure for this disease.”

Specifically, CCM-CARE would direct the heads of NIH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implement the following measures to further CCM research:

– Conduct basic, clinical and translational research on CCM; identify and support three national research centers’ collaboration on multi-site clinical drug trials; and integrate CCM within relevant existing clinical research networks to expand access to clinical drug trials to CCM patients.

– Establish a CCM education and information program under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to expand training for clinicians and scientists; establish a CCM Coordinating Committee at HHS to coordinate all federal CCM health efforts, facilitating the exchange of information and the effectiveness of research efforts; and award grants for CCM surveillance and epidemiology.

– Support appropriate investigational new drug applications and streamline the process from clinical drug trials to review for CCM treatment; and review appropriate request for designations for orphan drugs for CCM.

The proposed legislation is supported by the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, the Angioma Alliance Board of Directors, the Angioma Alliance Scientific Advisory Board, and Cure HHT.

Senator Udall Voices Concern about Funding Levels for NM Priorities in GOP Appropriations Bills

Votes to advance funding bills for NM labs, bases, water projects, veterans, but says sequestration cuts must be reversed

U.S. Senator Tom Udall joined the Senate Appropriations Committee to advance critical Fiscal Year 2016 bills that fund New Mexico priorities, including the national laboratories, military base construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs. But although he voted to advance the Energy and Water and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bills to the Senate floor, Udall warned that he has very serious concerns about the funding levels, which revert to sequestration levels.

Udall has opposed the across-the-board sequestration budget cuts, which were implemented in 2011. The cuts have hurt New Mexicans and held back our national security and economic growth. While Democrats worked to restore funding to appropriate levels, this year’s proposed Republican budget again slashes funding. President Obama has said he will veto any appropriations bills that keep sequestration levels, and Udall and other Democrats are urging Republicans to work on a bipartisan basis to roll back sequestration cuts as they did in FY 2014 and 2015.

“Thousands of New Mexico workers and communities across our state – not to mention our national security and economy – would be hurt by funding at the level in these bills. Sequestration budget cuts have hurt our labs, bases, vital rural water projects, and veterans’ services, and I have deep reservations about supporting these bills without significant improvements,” Udall said. “For example, the funding levels to ensure cleanup can continue at Los Alamos National Lab and the safe reopening of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant are below the president’s budget request and far below my request. The bills also underfund veterans’ services at a time when VA hospitals in New Mexico and across the country are struggling to provide care – and even as the VA anticipates the need to treat millions more veterans in coming years.”

“I supported an amendment in the committee today that would end sequestration. We need to be responsible and disciplined about our debt and deficits, but we can do that without putting our national security and economy at risk,” Udall continued. “I will continue to fight sequestration as these bills move to the full Senate for a vote.”

Additionally, Udall expressed concern and unsuccessfully offered an amendment to cut a provision in the Energy and Water bill that would allow the U.S. Department of Energy to take title to private nuclear waste. The provision in the bill would change current law and make taxpayers liable for the waste from power plants across the country if it is stored temporarily at private facilities, such as proposed sites in West Texas and New Mexico.

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