Senator Udall Encourages Participation in Saturday’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

As New Mexico continues to battle alarming prescription drug abuse rates, U.S. Senator Tom Udall is encouraging citizens to participate in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day this Saturday, April 26, and turn in unused or expired medication to locations in their communities.

The event, sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), provides free, anonymous drop-off sites throughout the state for safe medication disposal. Residents can search online by county, city or zip code for the collection site nearest them by clicking here or calling 1-800-882-9539 for more information. Sites are added daily.

“New Mexico has taken strong steps in fighting the prescription drug abuse epidemic, but we must keep it up,” Udall said. “We know that addiction to painkillers, particularly among teens, often begins with taking unused medications found at home. But we also know that events like Take-Back Day are helping New Mexico families protect their loved ones from the threat of abuse. I encourage the public to take advantage of this free and anonymous opportunity, and help us keep unused or expired prescriptions out of our medicine cabinets, out of our water systems, and most importantly, off the streets and out of the hands of our children.” 

According to the DEA, more than 10,000 pounds of prescription drugs were collected throughout New Mexico on National Take-Back Day during the last two years alone. Nationwide, state, local, and tribal law-enforcement and community partners have removed over 3.4 million pounds (1,733 tons) of medication from circulation in the last seven events combined.

For years, New Mexico has had one of the highest drug overdose rates in the nation, and substance abuse is still among the top five leading causes of death statewide. Drug overdoses in New Mexico decreased slightly in 2012, but still average about 500 a year, according to the New Mexico Department of Health. A report by the Department in 2011 showed that during the previous five years, the overdose rate for prescription drugs, such as oxycodone, morphine and methadone, exceeded the death rate from drugs like heroin and cocaine.

While the state faces alarming rates of addiction, New Mexico’s efforts to fight prescription drug abuse have been cited as examples for other states with similar challenges. In a policy report card issued by the Trust for America’s Health, New Mexico scored 10 out of 10 – one of only two states nationwide to receive the distinction – with promising strategies to help curb abuse. Those strategies included enhancing prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) and using the drug Narcan/naloxone to help treat patients addicted to opioids – two major components of a bill Udall has introduced at the federal level to ensure patients receive prescriptions safely and legally. 

Udall’s Increasing the Safety of Prescription Drug Use Act would also help make it easier for residents to dispose of prescription drugs in their communities as often and as safely as possible, especially in rural areas.

As a member of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, Udall continues to work with medical professionals, community organizations and local enforcement to combat prescription drug abuse in New Mexico and across the nation. He recently urged Attorney General Eric Holder to focus federal resources and attention on fighting addiction to prescription opioids and heroin, and he has traveled around the state holding discussions with community leaders on how to address the problem. In Valencia County, he met with First Choice Community Health clinic staff to discuss their innovative approaches. He later met with counselors, administrators and students at Ruidoso High School to discuss the impact of prescription drug abuse on teens.

“We need all hands on deck when it comes to beating back prescription drug abuse, and I am thankful to all our partners on the ground who are making strides,” Udall added. “I will continue doing all I can at the federal level, including finding more ways to support the work of advocates and law enforcement in our communities, who know the problem best and who work hard to keep drugs off our streets every day.” 

For more information about National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, visithttp://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html

Same Old GOP. Same Governor Martinez

Listen to Governor Martinez’s team bash the NM Commission on Women, making fun of its work and mission to help women:

Doña Ana County Democrats Commemorate Earth Day

View of the Organ and Robledo Mountains from the west, proposed Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Photo: Stephen Jones

View of the Organ and Robledo Mountains from the west, proposed Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Photo: Stephen Jones

Today, April 22, is Earth Day. The Democratic Party of Doña Ana County joins in celebrating the natural environment that we all share. We also celebrate the great vistas of our county, our state, and our region, which are a constant reminder for us of the rich environmental trust that we, and our fellow New Mexicans, and all American citizens share.

On this 44th commemoration of Earth Day, the environmental movement will mark Earth Day on Monday with events locally and elsewhere highlighting responses to climate change and other challenges facing the planet. We join in their concern. Nowhere is it more evident that climate change has real consequences for real people and real places that here in southern New Mexico.

Our close proximity to those natural treasures, bequeathed to us by those who loved here before us, reminds us of our shared responsibility for the health of our natural lands. Devastating wildfires, and severe drought, from which our region has suffered greatly over the past several years, both alarms us, and concerns us that our environment is not an infinite natural resource. These natural disasters serve to remind us that none of us has done enough to care for our natural lands. We call on all of our fellow Americans to practice earth day, and work to protect our fragile environment, each and every day of the year.

Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970. Nelson, a Democrat, was a lifelong leader on environmental issues, also founded the Widerness Society. While the original proclamation of April 22 as Earth Day was focused on the United States, Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations.

NM Land Commissioner Ray Powell Announces State Land Office Earned $69 Million in March for Public Schools, Universities and Hospitals

In the month of March, the New Mexico State Land Office earned $69 million for the beneficiaries of the state land trust.

“This $69 million is critically important in supporting New Mexico’s public schools, universities, and hospitals,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Ray Powell. “We are working collaboratively with the private sector, our sovereign tribes, our local, state, and federal agencies, and our local communities to create jobs for New Mexicans while taking care of the health of our working trust lands.”

The New Mexico State Land Office is responsible for managing state trust lands to generate income for 22 beneficiaries and for taking care of the lands so they are healthy and productive for the future.

The revenue in March was distributed to beneficiaries as follows:

  • More than $61 million went to support public schools in New Mexico.
  • More than $1.7 million went to state colleges and universities.
  • More than $1.5 million went to special schools, such as the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, in Alamogordo, and the School for the Deaf, in Santa Fe.
  • More than $945,000 went to hospitals, including Miner’s Colfax Hospital in Raton, and special hospitals like Carrie Tingley Hospital in Albuquerque.
  • The remaining $2.2 million went to other institutions, including the State Penitentiary and public buildings, water reservoirs, Rio Grande Improvements, and other beneficiaries.

Revenues from nonrenewable use of the trust lands, such as the royalties from oil and natural gas extraction, are deposited into the Land Grant Permanent Fund. They are invested and a percentage of the fund is paid to the beneficiaries.

Revenues from the renewable resources uses, such as grazing, rights of way, interest on earnings and bonuses paid to acquire oil and gas leases, are distributed directly to the beneficiaries, minus the StateLand Office’s operating budget and other administrative expenses.

Ray Powell, the New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands is an elected state official responsible for administering the state’s land grant trust. Thirteen million acres of land were granted to New Mexico in 1898 and 1910. Each tract is held in trust for the public schools, universities, as well as special schools and hospitals that serve children withphysical, visual, and auditory disabilities. During the last three years, the trust lands produced more than $1.7 billion in income for the beneficiaries, saving the average household about $800 a year in taxes.

Senators Udall, Heinrich Encourage Organizations Supporting Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers to Apply for Grant Funding

U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have announced that grant funding is available for New Mexico organizations conducting programs to support the next generation of farmers and ranchers. Through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), which Udall and Heinrich championed in the 2014 Farm Bill, more than $19 million was reauthorized to assist non-governmental, community-based and school-based organizations that conduct programs to help educate and train beginning farmers and ranchers. Grant applications are due June 12. In recent years, New Mexico has had one of the highest percentages of principal farm operators over age 65 in the country, highlighting the need to support the upcoming generation of farmers.

“The continued strength of our agriculture industry is vitally important to the economy of many rural New Mexico communities,” Udall said. “This program provides valuable funding for education and training initiatives to help the next generation of farmers and ranchers establish themselves, and start their ranching and farming operations on a sturdy foundation that will prepare them for future growth and economic well-being. I encourage qualifying New Mexico organizations to apply for these grants.”

“Ensuring the next generation of farmers and ranchers have access to training and education opportunities is important to continuing New Mexico’s long tradition in agriculture,” Heinrich said. “These investments will help strengthen our state’s economy, cultivate business partnerships, and promote innovative techniques that adapt to our changing climate. I encourage our agricultural community and school-based organizations to seize this opportunity and apply for these grants.”

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture within the U.S. Department of Agriculture will award grants on a competitive basis to organizations coordinating programs to educate and train those aiming to start farming, and those who have been farming or ranching for 10 years or fewer. All applicants are required to provide funds or in-kind support from non-federal sources equal to at least 25 percent of the federal funds requested. Five percent of the available funding will be allocated to programs and services for limited-resource and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, while an additional 5 percent will be allocated for programming and services for military veteran farmers and ranchers.

District Attorney Mark D’Antonio’s Office Wins Statewide Awards

Third Judicial District Attorney, Mark D’Antonio, has always been pleased with his staff but ever since it was announced at the New Mexico District Attorney’s Conference that 5 members of his office received 4 of the 8 possible statewide awards & 2 District awards, he is extremely proud.  They are as follows:

District Attorney Mark D'Antonio

District Attorney Mark D’Antonio

Prosecutor of the Year: Roxanne Esquibel, Chief Deputy.  Ms. Esquibel has been practicing for 23 years and handles one of the largest caseloads. She has an excellent knowledge of the law and is a dedicated trial attorney. She’s always willing to cover cases and assist her colleagues in any way possible.

Special Programs Employee of the Year: Suzanne Sandoval. Ms. Sandoval serves as our Victim Advocate Coordinator. It takes a gentle, loving and special person to work with victims of horrific crimes, especially children, and Ms. Sandoval does a wonderful job.

Support Staff of the Year: Alejandro Hernandez.  Mr. Hernandez has been employed with the Third District Attorney’s Office for over 19 years. He is the point of contact for all domestic violence cases and handles all intakes. He is very knowledgeable of the legal system and is the go-to person for all things related to domestic violence. He is often the first employee to arrive and remains till the work is done.

Employee of the Year (state & local): Jessica Patterson. Ms. Patterson is one of the most knowledgeable employees in this office as well as in the state. She has been with the Third District Attorney’s office for 16 years and has excelled in every task assigned. Ms. Patterson is the state’s expert on judgments and sentences (J&S) often providing training to other NM districts.

Third District Prosecutor of the Year: Steve Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong was nominated not only by Mr. D’Antonio but also the office staff.  Mr. Armstrong is currently the Magistrate Court supervisor, supervising 4 attorneys while handling his own caseload. In addition to working fulltime with the District Attorney’s office he is also a pilot with the U.S. Navy Reserve. He goes above and beyond the call of duty.

Weekly Address: President Obama Offers Easter and Passover Greetings

In this week’s address, the President offers his warmest greetings as millions of Americans celebrate Easter this Sunday and recounts the Passover Seder he hosted at the White House earlier this week, joining Jewish families around the world in their celebration. The President looks forward to taking part with his family in the hope and joy of the Easter season and reminds all Americans, no matter their faith, of the common thread that binds us.

Video Mensaje de la Casa Blanca: Celebración de Pascua y Pésaj

En el mensaje de esta semana, Asistente Especial del Presidente y Directora de Comunicaciones a la Primera Dama María Cristina González Noguera conmemora la celebración de la Pascua y Pésaj.

 

English/Inglís: Watch and share President Obama’s weekly address.

En Español: Mensaje De La Casa Blanca

Why Does Governor Martinez Hate Teachers?

Listen to Martinez slam teacher salaries:

http://bit.ly/1kIhyey

FACT SHEET: Affordable Care Act by the Numbers

The Affordable Care Act is working.  It is giving millions of middle class Americans the health care security they deserve, it is slowing the growth of health care costs and it has brought transparency and competition to the Health Insurance Marketplace.

HEALTH CARE BY THE NUMBERS

  • 8 million people signed up for private insurance in the Health Insurance Marketplace. For states that have Federally-Facilitated Marketplaces, 35 percent of those who signed up are under 35 years old and 28 percent are between 18 and 34 years old, virtually the same youth percentage that signed up in Massachusetts in their first year of health reform.
  • 3 million young adults gained coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act by being able to stay on their parents plan.
  • 3 million more people were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP as of February, compared to before the Marketplaces opened. Medicaid and CHIP enrollment continues year-round.
  • 5 million people are enrolled in plans that meet ACA standards outside the Marketplace, according to a CBO estimate. When insurers set premiums for next year, they are required to look at everyone who enrolled in plans that meet ACA standards, both on and off the Marketplace.
  • 5.7 million people will be uninsured in 2016 because 24 States have not expanded Medicaid.

HEALTH CARE COST GROWTH IS LOWEST IN DECADES

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  • Health care costs are growing at the slowest level on recordSince the law passed, real per capita health care spending is estimated to have grown at the lowest rate on record for any three-year period and less than one-third the long-term historical average stretching back to 1960. This slower growth in spending is reflected in Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance.
  • CBO projects the deficit will shrink more and premiums will be lower than expected: CBO previously estimated that the ACA will reduce the deficit by $1.7 trillion over two decades, and, just this week, CBO concluded that lower-than-expected Marketplace premiums and other recent developments will cut $104 billion from our deficit over the next ten years. The CBO report also projects that lower-than-expected premiums will help to save $5 billion this year, and that lower premiums will persist in the years ahead, remaining 15 percent below projections by 2016 (the only year in which CBO provides a precise estimate).
  • Medicare spending growth is down: Medicare per capita spending is growing at historically low rates.  This week, for the fifth straight year, the CBO reduced its projections for Medicare spending over the next 10 years – this time by $106 billion.  CBO projects that Medicare and Medicaid costs in 2020 will be $180 billion below its 2010 estimates.  Recent economic research suggests that the ACA’s reforms to Medicare may have “spillover effects” that reduce costs and improve quality across the health care system, not just in Medicare.

THE SECURITY OF HEALTH INSURANCE FOR MILLIONS OF MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES

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  • Up to 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions – including up to 17 million children – no longer have to worry about being denied health coverage or charged higher premiums because of their health status.
  • 71 million Americans with private insurance have gained coverage for at least one free preventive health care service such as mammograms, birth control, or immunizations in 2011 and 2012.
  • In 2013, 37 million people with Medicare received at least one preventive service at no out of pocket cost.
  • Approximately 60 million Americans have gained expanded mental health and substance use disorder benefits and/or federal parity protections.
  • Since the health care law was enacted, almost 8 million seniors have saved nearly $10 billion on prescription drugs as the health care law closes Medicare’s “donut hole.”
  • 105 million Americans no longer have to worry about having their health benefits cut off after they reach a lifetime limit.

Think Progress: ‘I Unequivocally Believe In Equal Pay,’ Says Congressman Who Consistently Votes Against Equal Pay

By Mike Rivera

Reposted from ThinkProgressApril 8, 2014

Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) released a press release Tuesday in recognition of Equal Pay Day asserting that he “unequivocally believe[s] in equal pay for equal work.”

The statement continued:

The United States is the land of opportunity—opportunity for ALL. Race, gender, age, or religious beliefs should never impact or infringe upon one’s chance at the American Dream. When my wife and I owned our business, we practiced this concept. We must ensure that our children and grandchildren are able to live in a free society where individuals are rewarded based on their merit.

Despite his sudden commitment to “equal pay for equal work,” Pearce’s voting record doesn’t appear to match his narrative. In 2007, the congressman voted against the Equal Pay Bill, the early version of the Lilly Ledbetter Act, to make it easier for women to discover salary discrepancies and sue employers. He also voted against the relatively uncontroversial Employment Discrimination Law Amendments in 2008 that would have prohibited employers from retaliating against workers who filed complaints about pay discrepancy and created training programs on wage discrimination and negotiation for women. More recently, Pearce voted against even considering the 2013 Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have strengthened penalties for discrimination and promoted salary transparency, among other measures.

Pearce’s reputation with female voters suffered earlier this year when he argued in his book that a wife’s role in a marriage was to “voluntarily submit” to her husband. He also came under fire recently for hiring a racist blogger as his press secretary.

Pearce may be trying to change his tune now as he runs for re-election in a diversifying district. Republican candidates and strategists are struggling to combat the party’s “war on women” image after losing female voters by devastating margins in 2012. Even three quarters of Republicans support equal pay. ThinkProgress reached out to Pearce’s office to ask if he would support equal pay initiatives in the future, but did not receive a response.

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