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new mexico tourism chief says there are no funds to grow ad paign


heath haussamen / nmpolitics.neta statue outside the roundhouse in santa fe.the “new mexico true” paign that has won raves for its advertisements spotlighting the state’s culture, people and natural resources cannot expand into new markets because of the same budget woes afflicting government agencies across the board, tourism secretary rebecca latham told lawmakers thursday.latham said her agency is continuing to spend more than ever to promote the state, but that has come by reducing employees and consolidating services.new mexico true promotes the state on airport billboards, print and social media in dallas, houston, phoenix, denver, san diego, chicago and most recently austin. the next logical market is san francisco, but latham said the state does not have to money to grow into that






opposing legislation, as written, to create a state public accountability board


heath haussamen / nmpolitics.neta statue outside the roundhouse in santa fe.editor’s note: laura paskus, president of the board of directors of the society of professional journalists rio grande chapter, spoke on behalf of the board thursday morning in opposition to legislation, as it’s currently written, to create a state public accountability board. the legislation is sponsored by sen. daniel ivey-soto, d-albuquerque, and rep. damon ely, d-corrales. afterward, members of the house state government, indian and veterans affairs committee a nced the bill on a vote of 6-3. here’s paskus’ statement to the committee:commentary: the rio grande chapter of the society of professional journalists always appreciates when legislators take an interest in issues related to transparency and public acco






new mexicans want ethics reforms to prevent corruption, report finds


heath haussamen / nmpolitics.neta statue outside the roundhouse in santa fe.the vast majority of new mexicans reject the notion that political corruption in state government cannot be reversed through legislative action, according to the results of a new university of new mexico poll.but many of the people surveyed said they don’t feel they have the power to influence government decision-making, according to the report, released this week as lawmakers are considering proposals to create a statewide ethics commission.the robert wood johnson foundation’s center for health policy at unm published the report, which says 72 percent of the 1,505 adult state residents surveyed believe “the state’s political leaders should implement reforms such as an independent ethics commission.” roughly half o






senate committee kills bill to end permit requirement for concealed guns


kcdstm / flickr“there’s no reason to do anything like this,” said sen. mimi stewart, d-albuquerque. (p o cc info)people who want to legally carry concealed weapons in new mexico will still have to go through a 15-hour firearms training course, p a background check and get a permit.a state senate committee on friday effectively killed a bill that would have allowed people 18 or older to carry a loaded concealed handgun without a license, provided that the person is not prohibited by law or court order from possessing or carrying a firearm.in a party-line vote, the senate public affairs committee tabled the bill by sen. steve neville, r-aztec. democrats on the committee didn’t like the idea of junking the training requirements or the background check for applicants. others objected to the bi






trump executive order could block 500,000 legal u.s. residents from returning to


gage skidmore / creative commonspresident donald trump (p o cc info)when details leaked earlier this week about a spate of immigration-related executive orders from president donald trump, much public discussion focused on a 30-day ban on new visas for citizens from seven “terror-prone” countries.but the order signed this afternoon by trump is actually more severe, increasing the ban to 90 days. and its effects could extend well beyond preventing newcomers from iran, iraq, libya, somalia, sudan and yemen, from entering the u.s., lawyers consulted by propublica said.it’s also expected to have substantial effects on hundreds of thousands of people from these countries who already live in the u.s. under green cards or on temporary student or employee visas.since the order’s travel ban applies






transparent ethics commission bill, controversial ‘public accountability board’


heath haussamen / nmpolitics.neta statue outside the roundhouse in santa fe.with the state wracked by successive corruption scandals involving top officials, several lawmakers seem to agree that this is the year for ethics reform in new mexico.a committee of the state house of representatives gave a boost to those hopes thursday by a ncing a bipartisan proposal to establish an independent ethics commission through a constitutional amendment. the commission would have the power to investigate complaints of misconduct by public officials, candidates, lobbyists and contractors. the complaints would be public, and the commission’s opinions could be appealed to the state courts. paign finance reform advocates and good government groups have fought for years to create such a body. but similar me






texas not enthused about possible import tax to pay for border wall


bob daemmrich / the texas tribunepresident donald trump, shown here paigning in iowa in january 2016.the trump administration sparked widespread surprise thursday by announcing it intended to implement a 20 percent tax on mexican imports to pay for a coming border wall — followed by extreme confusion when it appeared to walk back the statement later that afternoon.white house press secretary sean spicer made the initial announcement thursday afternoon aboard air force one, as president trump returned from a meeting with house republicans in philadelphia.“right now, our country’s policy is to tax exports and let imports flow freely in, which is ridiculous,” he told reporters. “by [imposing the tax], we can do $10 billion a year and easily pay for the wall just through that mechanism alone.






trump’s immigration orders likely to face legal and fiscal challenges


heath haussamen / nmpolitics.neta scene from the u.s./mexico border in 2016. in the foreground, behind a barbed-wire fence, u.s. border patrol agents speak with each other in el paso, texas. across the rio grande, in the background, is cuidad juárez, mexico.a barrage of legal and fiscal challenges is sure to dog two executive orders president trump signed wednesday that reflect his promises to build a “great wall” and attack cities sympathetic to undocumented residents.on wednesday, trump ordered the department of homeland security to begin planning for a 2,000-mile-long u.s.-mexico wall — as well as the addition of additional border agents, more detention centers and a plan to withhold federal funds from so-called “sanctuary cities.”the president said his executive orders would restore “r






legislative democrats offer a jobs plan that’s short on details


steve terrell / the new mexicanstate sen. clemente sanchez, d-grants, surrounded by fellow house and senate democrats at a thursday news conference talks about the economic package democrats are advocating.democrats in the state legislature on thursday outlined a six-point jobs plan, including a raise in the minimum wage and spending on public works projects, that they said would be their focus for the remaining 50 days of the legislative session.but democrats were unable to project how many jobs would be created by the plan or provide details on how some parts of the plan would work. still, they promised to deliver for a state still trying to find its economic footing more than seven years after the end of the great recession.“today, families and young people in our state are confronted w






focus shifts this week to state’s fiscal year 2018 budget


heath haussamen / nmpolitics.neta statue outside the roundhouse in santa fe.when state human services secretary brent earnest goes before lawmakers to speak about his budget for the medicaid insurance program, many want to run for cover.one year, he needed as much as $100 million from the general fund to fully pay for all the new enrollees under the federal affordable care act and provide the same level of service. last fall, he said he needed another $80 million for the fiscal year that begins july 1.on thursday, he told the house appropriations and finance committee that request had dropped to $42 million. “this is a significantly better picture than you saw in the fall,” earnest said. and that was about the best news lawmakers heard all week.after spending the first two weeks of the 201






small loan swindles grow


commentary: new data from the new mexico department of regulation shows low- and moderate-income borrowers are being swindled out of more money than ever before by high-cost storefront lenders.here are the lowlights. the data is for loans charging over 175 percent annual interest and fees during calendar year 2015.new mexicans signed small loan contracts charging $372 million in annual finance fees.131,000 borrowers took out installment loans. the average customer borrowed $1,000 for one year at 350 percent interest with total loan payments of $3,670.60,000 new mexicans took out one-month, single-payment loans. the average one-month loan was $800 at 253 percent interest. the typical borrower needed to renew their loan twice. these folks wound up repaying $1,320 on what amounted to a three-






doctor ‘racing against trump’ to get back to ohio doesn’t make it


hours after landing in new york on urday, a doctor at the prestigious cleveland clinic was forced to leave the country based on an executive order issued by president donald trump that bans visitors from seven predominantly muslim countries for 90 days.courtesy faris el-khidersuha abushammaher flight to saudi arabia took off minutes before a federal judge in new york put a temporary stay on turning back people in such situations.suha abushamma, 26, is in the first year of an internal medicine residency program at the clinic and held an h-1b visa for workers in “specialty occupations.” born and raised in saudi arabia, she holds a p port from sudan, one of the seven countries from which trump barred visitors.on urday evening, abushamma was forced to make a choice by customs and border protec






in battle over legislature’s spending, governor vetoes ‘feed’ bill


p age of a “feed bill” to cover the costs of the new mexico legislature typically is a slam dunk, unanimously adopted as the first order of business at each annual lawmaking session in santa fe. but in an environment where partisanship can flare up in myriad ways, even that piece of legislation has become a battleground.heath haussamen / nmpolitics.netgov. susana martinezgov. susana martinez on friday night vetoed funding for the legislature, taking on democratic lawmakers less than two weeks into a 60-day session so far dominated by debate over the state’s budget crisis.in a veto message, martinez denounced democrats for rejecting a proposal from republicans in the state house of representatives to reduce spending by the legislative branch at a time when other branches of state government