The Democratic Party of Doña Ana County Dr. Liz Rodriguez-Johnson, County Chair presents: The Doña Ana County Democrats Annual Dinner Friday, February 26, 2016 at 6 PM Columbus Conference Center 901 Avenida de Mesilla Las Cruces, New Mexico Keynote Speaker: Maggie Toulouse Oliver Bernalillo County Clerk & Secretary of State Candidate Please RSVP by February 22, […]Continue reading
Doña Ana County Precinct Meetings & County Convention NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN BY THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF DONA ANA COUNTY There will be Precinct Meetings held by District, on Thursday, February 18, 2016, doors open at 5:30 p.m., meetings start at 6:00 p.m., to elect delegates to the County Pre-Primary Convention: District 33, Precincts 18, 39, 40, […]Continue reading
NM Dems applaud defeat of so-called Right to Work bill, will continue to oppose attacks on prevailing wage
New Mexico Democratic Party Chair Debra Haaland issued the following statement following this week’s Senate Public Affairs Committee vote to table SB269:
“New Mexico Democrats are proud to stand with working families in opposing so-called right to work and other anti-worker legislation. Corporate CEOs and out-of-state interests who are pushing these types of bills across the country don’t know New Mexico like we do. Everyday heroes like teachers, nurses and firefighters have families who count on them, but right to work laws lower their wages. Right to work just creates government overreach into important conversations between working people and their employers that keep workplaces safe and running soundly. SB269 is just wrong for New Mexico.”
That same evening, New Mexico’s Republican-controlled House voted to approve HB200, a bill to amend the state’s prevailing wage law. The vote, carried along party lines, would do away with a system of paying construction workers and other skilled craftsmen according to mutually negotiated collective bargaining agreements.
New Mexico’s current prevailing wage law has been on the books since 2009. Governor Martinez challenged the law in the court, attempting to prevent its implementation, in the first years of her administration. This past summer, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the law would stand, and that the state must immediately begin enforcing the law which pay workers on state projects over $60,000 a prevailing wage determined through collective bargaining.
Writing for the court, Justice Petra Jimenez Maes said that the director of the state labor relations division’s “delay in setting new rates and his failure to comply with the act is inexcusable.”
Haaland condemned House Republicans for their votes:
“It’s no secret that New Mexico is last in line when it comes to recovery from the recession. Lowering wages for those who are already working doesn’t get us any further ahead. The economic consequences for weakening prevailing wage would be devastating for working families. We will continue to fight HB200 as it moves over to the Senate.”
Governor Failed to Invest Billions in Available State Funds to Create Jobs
The Democratic Party of New Mexico on Friday said that Gov. Susana Martinez has been too focused on her highly political agenda and too distracted by her administration’s string of scandals to do her job as governor, which DPNM says, are the reasons that the governor failed to invest the more than $4.4 billion dollars at her disposal for job creation.
“From greenlighting road construction projects to setting up job training programs, Gov. Susana Martinez could have—simply by doing her job—stimulated New Mexico’s economy,” said Joe Kabourek, Democratic Party of New Mexico Executive Director. “Instead, she’s spent the last year ducking questions about a federal investigation into abuse of power charges against her, trying to distance herself from convicted former Secretary of State Dianna Duran, and making politics more important than the livelihoods of working families.”
Kabourek’s comments were in response to the annual Fund Balance Report released Friday by the Office of the State Auditor. The auditor and his staff combed through 398 funds in 86 state agencies and the State General Fund to identify untapped resources. According the report, $4.4 billion in allocated state funds have been sitting—untouched—in accounts controlled by the governor and her administration.
“Governor Susana Martinez has failed the people of New Mexico,” Kabourek said. “That’s all there is to it. For the past two years, while New Mexicans have searched for jobs and worried about how to pay their bills, this governor has been sitting on billions of dollars that could have put those people to work, provided quality early childhood education for their kids and put food on their tables. This is an outrage.”
With less than a week left in the 2016 legislative session, tensions have been running high as legislators work to craft a state budget for the coming year amid dismal state income projections. Martinez has further fueled budget fears with a law-and-order political agenda that demands that the limited pool of state funds be used on prisons instead of education, Kabourek said.
“This governor has been using scare tactics to advance her narrow political agenda,” Kabourek said. “In reality, the biggest financial crisis facing our state isn’t the collapse of the oil and gas industry, it’s the fact that the governor is too distracted by scandals to manage state money.”
The auditor’s full report, which details the accounts and funds that comprise the $4.4 billion in unspent moneys, can be found online at http://osanm.org/government_accountability_office.
GOP Stands By Repeat Criminal Offender Nate Gentry, But Tries to Slam Sanchez for Defending Citizens?
DPNM: Republicans Need to Restore Public Trust in Leaders, Not Support More Criminals
The Republican Party on Wednesday tried to slam Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez for doing his job and defending his clients in a court of law, even as the Party continues to allow criminals within its own ranks, including repeat criminal offender, House Majority Whip Nate Gentry.
“If the Republican Party is really concerned about the problem of repeat criminal offenders, why are they standing by Nate Gentry, who has been arrested multiple times and was on court-ordered probation as recently as 2013?” said Joe Kabourek, Executive Director of the Democratic Party of New Mexico.
Public records indicate that Gentry was arrested in 2002 for aggravated DWI [Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court, Case f#: DW80802, Filed 2/ 22/02, Dismissed 9/12/2002], charged with assault in Washington, D.C., 2000 [DC Superior Court, Case Number 2000 CMD 007521, 6/30/2000], and most recently charged with poaching in 2012.
“Nate Gentry is by definition a repeat offender,” Kabourek said. “The Republican Party would be better served by keeping repeat offenders out of their own ranks rather than attacking Leader Sanchez for helping citizens navigate the court system.”
Kabourek said, however, that the Republican Party’s support for a repeat criminal offender was not surprising given the recent string of criminal convictions and investigations involving Republican leaders.
“From former Secretary of State Dianna Duran’s conviction on corruption charges to the federal investigation of alleged abuses of power by the governor, New Mexicans are tired of crime and corruption in government,” Kabourek said. “Unfortunately criminal activity, like that of repeat criminal offender Nate Gentry, is accepted by the Republican establishment. It’s a disservice to our state.”
Further, Kabourek emphasized the hypocrisy of the Republican attack on Sanchez.
“Every New Mexican has the right to legal representation in a courtroom, but there is no right and nothing righteous about the Republican Party’s hypocrisy,” Kabourek said.
HWMC Nixes Aid Poor Families, While Chair Says He’s Used Section 8, WIC, Medicaid
The Democratic Party of New Mexico on Thursday called House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Harper out-of-touch and hypocritical in response to comments he made at a recent committee hearing (clip begins at 1:26:15) on HB 79, The Working Families Tax Credit.
Harper, during the hearing on February 5, said that New Mexicans “have no clue what real poverty is like,” just before the committee acted to kill the bill that would have provided relief to working families.
“Rep. Harper—like his colleagues in the Republican Party—is out of touch with the realities of everyday New Mexicans’ lives,” said Joe Kabourek, Democratic Party of New Mexico Executive Director. “Too many New Mexicans have more than ‘a clue’ of what poverty is. From Colonias to failing urban communities, New Mexico children go to bed hungry and wake up cold. This state knows poverty all too well.”
Earlier in his commentary, Harper, who sponsored legislation this session to slash wages and block family leave and sick leave programs for workers, noted that he and his wife didn’t “pay a penny” for housing while he was in college and earning his master’s degree because they took advantage of a Section 8 housing program that paid all of their housing costs for five years. Harper also added that Medicaid provided health care for the birth of his first child and his family used WIC programs for food.
“New Mexicans know what poverty looks like,” Kabourek said, “and they deserve leaders who will fight to make their lives better, not hypocrites who simply use government programs for their own benefit and then look the other way as others go hungry.”
Harper also told the bill’s sponsor that the governor would never sign the bill to help working families anyway, showing that out-of-touch ideas can be found on the Fourth Floor as well as in committee rooms.
“House leaders and the governor are denying poverty and refusing to take a stand for the poor and working poor in New Mexico,” Kabourek said. “That is a slap in the face to families who don’t have running water or reliable heating,” Kabourek said. “The Republicans are out of touch and, sadly, under their leadership poverty in New Mexico has only increased.”
HB 74, sponsored by Rep. Bill McCamley was tabled in Committee on February 5.
Discussions Will Begin to Consider Future of Park in New Mexico
The New Mexico House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation Wednesday night to launch discussions about the future of a Mount Cristo Rey Dinosaur Tracks park. The discussions could lead to a 200 acre nature park owned by Insights El Paso Science Center at the base of Mount Cristo Rey be transferred to a New Mexico organization. The discussions will be facilitated by the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resource Department’s State Parks Division and include key stakeholders including the Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico State University, New Mexico Museum of Natural History, CARTA, the association for the El Camino Real National Historic Trail, and the Rio Grande Trail Commission.
“I am pleased that the House has passed legislation formally establishing a dialogue with Insights El Paso Science Center about the future of this very special place. I appreciate our State Parks Department for helping to lead the discussions. This park could end up playing a bigger role in providing recreation and tourism opportunities to Doña Ana County,” said Representative Jeff Steinborn.
At a recent meeting of the Rio Grande Trail Commission in Las Cruces in January, Insights El Paso Science Center expressed a desire to convey the science center to a New Mexico organization that could manage it for its natural assets and potential. In response to this outreach, State Representative Jeff Steinborn (Las Cruces) introduced House Memorial 35 encouraging Insights El Paso Science Center to begin discussions with state organizations to explore different ownership and management options for the park.
Ellen Esposito, President of Insights El Paso Science Center signaled that discussions with state officials could be the beginning of the next chapter of preservation of the Mount Cristo Rey site. “We are proud of the rich paleontological resources, cultural heritage, and historical assets in and around this special place and are excited to have conversations with our New Mexico counterparts to see how we can protect it forever.”
The Mount Cristo Rey Property has been discussed as a possible southern ending point for the proposed 500 mile Rio Grande Trail, running from Colorado to Texas.
In the 2015 legislation session, Representative Steinborn passed legislation establishing the Rio Grande Trail Commission. The Commission is tasked with planning the 500 mile trail across New Mexico, from Colorado to the Texas border.
GOP SOS Candidate Misses Ethics Vote Despite Being Present for Votes Before & After
The Democratic Party of New Mexico on Wednesday asked why Rep. Nora Espinoza was not present for Tuesday night’s important ethics commission vote when she had been present and voting for the bill just before and the bill just after the ethics vote.
“While we certainly hope there was no dire emergency that pulled Rep. Espinoza from the House floor last night, we are curious what would cause a Secretary of State candidate to miss a vote on a bill to create an independent ethics commission,” said Joe Kabourek, Democratic Party of New Mexico Executive Director. “Given the record of scandal and corruption in the Martinez Administration and within the Secretary of State’s Office, New Mexicans would expect that any candidate for Secretary of State would go out of their way to support meaningful ethics reform legislation.”
Legislative records show that Espinoza was present for a vote on HB 200 at 8:00 p.m. and was present for a vote on HB 144 at 9:56 p.m., but she is listed as “excused” from the ethics vote at 9:17 p.m.
“New Mexicans deserve to know: What was so important that it forced the Republican candidate for secretary of state to miss out on one of the most critical votes of the Legislative Session?” Kabourek said.
Espinoza filed as a candidate for secretary of state last week. The next day, she introduced three elections-related bills – the first such legislation she’s introduced in her nearly 10 years in the House. In response to questions about possible political motives in introducing those bills at that time, Espinoza told the Albuquerque Journal that she was concerned because it was late in the session and no action was being taken on these issues.
“Given how important Rep. Espinoza now says elections law and ethics reform are to her, why would she miss Tuesday night’s critical vote to establish an independent ethics commission?” Kabourek said.
‘No one is putting a stay on climate change, which will continue to threaten our nation’
U.S. Senator Tom Udall issued the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change:
“I’m extremely disappointed in the Supreme Court’s unprecedented decision to halt the administration’s signature effort to fight global warming. The court may have put a stay on the Clean Power Plan, but no one is putting a stay on climate change, which will continue to threaten our nation. Rather than providing any relief, this decision sows confusion for states, utilities, businesses and the public. We can’t afford to set back efforts to fight global warming or send signals that discourage the market from investing in the American clean energy economy.
“New Mexico and the Southwest are in the bull’s-eye when it comes to the impacts of global warming. Rising temperatures and increasingly severe drought and wildfires are putting our communities, water supply and agricultural producers at risk. New Mexicans are well aware of the threat, and that’s why we have taken positive steps to balance our energy use and fight climate change. Not only is New Mexico reducing emissions, the emphasis on developing wind, solar and other alternative energy sources is creating good jobs. New Mexico is well on our way to complying with the EPA’s plan based on decisions and commitments that have already been made, and I believe we should continue on that path.
“Ultimately, I believe the EPA will prevail in the courts, and market forces are already driving a transition to clean energy. I encourage the EPA to keep working with states that choose to continue to develop their Clean Power Plans and prepare the tools those states will need. I also urge the administration to continue to take aggressive steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the country so we can ensure our children and grandchildren can live in healthier and safer communities.”
Senators Udall, Heinrich Announce Technology Transfer Funding to Help NMSU Student Entrepreneurs Move Innovations to Marketplace
$368,760 investment in Next Gen program will support new business development, job creation in rural NM communities
Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) will invest $368,760 in New Mexico State University’s Next Generation Entrepreneurship (Next Gen) project. The funding will allow NMSU to enhance entrepreneurship programming at its main campus and extend it to the four NMSU community college campuses in Alamogordo, Carlsbad, Grants and Las Cruces. The program provides students who have developed technologies ripe for commercialization with technical assistance and mentoring to help them turn their innovations into marketable products.
“This EDA investment will help the next generation of innovators in communities throughout New Mexico learn how to move the research and technology they developed at our universities to the marketplace, and start successful businesses,” Udall said. “Encouraging entrepreneurship at our universities and community colleges helps build New Mexico’s high-tech sector, create jobs and strengthen our economy. Technology transfer is more than just a program to help researchers at our state’s national labs. And as a member of the Senate Appropriations and Commerce committees, I’ll continue to support investments in technology transfer and programs to inspire New Mexico researchers and students to help our state reach its full potential to lead the nation in high-tech innovation.”
“I witnessed the success of linking students to technology and the tools needed for commercialization when I visited Arrowhead on NMSU’s main campus last year,” Heinrich said. “This funding will allow the Next Gen program to reach more students throughout New Mexico and empower them to become our state’s new business leaders.”
The Next Gen program received the grant through the competitive i6 Challenge, a national competition launched in 2010 as part of the Startup America Initiative. The competition makes small, targeted, high-impact investments that support startup creation, innovation and commercialization. The Next Gen project will expand current student entrepreneurship programming supported by the Arrowhead Innovation Network (AIN), a 2012 i6 Challenge project. The project will leverage NMSU’s existing student and alumni business incubator, the large pool of potential student entrepreneurs enrolled in NMSU community college courses, and AIN resources and partnerships to help build a robust pipeline of next-generation entrepreneurs prepared to grow a regional high-tech economy.
Americans for Responsible Solutions Co-Founder Capt. Mark Kelly Applauds the New Mexico Senate Public Affairs Committee for Advancing Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen the Background Check System for Gun Sales
Bill Closes Loopholes in Current Law By Requiring New Mexico Courts to Report Mental Health Records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System
Currently, New Mexico Has No Law Requiring the State to Report Mental Health Information to the Background Check System
In 2013, New Mexico Had 9th Highest Number of Gun Deaths Per Capita Among States
Retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, the Co-Founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions, applauded the New Mexico Senate Public Affairs Committee’s bipartisan vote today to advance Senate Bill 331, which closes loopholes in New Mexico law by requiring the state’s courts to report relevant mental health records to the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
New Mexico currently has no law requiring the state to report mental health information to NICS, the federal background check system. In 2013, it had the 9th highest number of gun deaths per capita among the states.
“Today, Republicans and Democrats came together to strengthen our background checks system, keep guns out of the wrong hands, and make New Mexico’s families safer. We thank Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, and Committee Chair Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pinto for their leadership in helping move this commonsense, responsible proposal forward.
This legislation recognizes the reality that our background check system is only as good as the records of the dangerous individuals that it contains, and this bill will help ensure that more of those records are in the system and fewer guns fall into the wrong hands,” said Captain Kelly, a Navy combat veteran and former NASA astronaut. “We look forward to seeing this bill passed in a strong, bipartisan vote for common sense and sent to the Governor’s desk.”
OVERVIEW OF THE NATIONAL INSTANT CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK SYSTEM & REPORTING OF MENTAL HEALTH RECORDS
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was established in 1993 by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. Since taking effect, over 196 million background checks have been conducted and NICS has blocked more than 2.4 million gun purchases. States provide the majority of records information to NICS, which contains criminal history, mental health history and other relevant records. While states have made significant gains in submitting mental health records to NICS, tripling these submissions from 2011 to 2014, millions of records remain incomplete or simply do not make their way into NICS .
Founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS) is committed to advancing commonsense change that makes communities safer from gun violence.
Connect with Gabby Giffords, Mark Kelly, and ARS:
Instagram: @GabbyGiffords, @ShuttleCDRKelly
Martinez Shut Down Behavioral Health System on False Pretenses, Gave Contracts to Donors
The Democratic Party of New Mexico welcomed news on Monday that the Attorney General Hector Balderas had cleared the last of the behavioral health providers charged by the state with fraud, but the party also called for an investigation into Gov. Susana Martinez and her role in effectively shutting down more than a dozen behavioral health providers and then giving lucrative contracts to one of her largest campaign donors to take on the work.
“The Attorney General’s decision, while welcomed, doesn’t begin to bring justice for the providers who lost their livelihoods, the patients who lost their care and the students who went without critical support services,” said Joe Kabourek, Democratic Party of New Mexico Executive Director. “These providers and their patients did nothing wrong, but Susana Martinez did. She shut down these community-based businesses with no evidence so that she could throw millions of dollars in contracts to a fat-cat donor. The real investigation that’s needed here is an investigation into Gov. Susana Martinez’s decision to strip care away from thousands of New Mexicans while lining the pockets of her campaign contributors.”
Optum Health, whose Arizona-based behavioral health providers were whisked in to provide services after the governor and her administration shut down local providers, has been a major contributor to the governor’s campaigns, the Republican and even “wined and dined” the governor’s official staff in advance of getting the lucrative contracts, according to local newspaper reports.
“This is cronyism, plain and simple,” Kabourek said. “Susana Martinez shut down hard-working, local behavioral health services providers in order to pay back her high-dollar campaign contributors – and New Mexican families paid the very high price.”
This latest example of the governor’s using her authority to benefit a wealthy few is, unfortunately, nothing new, Kabourek said.
“From the FBI’s investigation of the governor to her own secretary of standing ending up in jail on corruption charges, the Martinez Administration has been plagued by scandal after scandal,” Kabourek said. “The unjustified destruction of our state’s behavioral health system to benefit her wealthy friends is just another example of Gov. Susana Martinez abusing her power to benefit her wealthy friends. New Mexicans deserve better and they deserve answers.”