Legislative roundup — Jan. 28

By Steve Terrell

The New Mexican

Days remaining in session: 23

A Lion he was not: It’s Super Bowl week, and that meant the state Senate was especially excited about the man they confirmed Monday for the Military Base Planning Commission.

Senators voted 37-0 for John D. Bledsoe, a retired brigadier general and former combat pilot who once headed the New Mexico Air National Guard.

Bledsoe, 61, has a long resume, but the very last line grabbed the attention of the Senate. It said: “Detroit Lions football team member, 1975.”

Sen. Bill Payne, R-Albuquerque, spoke publicly on behalf of Bledsoe, who was nominated for the commission by Gov. Susana Martinez. Payne, R-Albuquerque, said some people might even want Bledsoe’s autograph because he played pro football.

But a review of the Detroit Lions’ all-time roster contained no mention of Bledsoe. We asked him about the discrepancy. Bledsoe said his resume probably was misleading. “I didn’t make the team. I didn’t make the final cut,” Bledsoe said. “I probably shouldn’t have put it on there.”

Bledsoe was an offensive lineman at the University of Arizona. He said he tried out for the Lions as a long snapper.

He will serve at the pleasure of the governor on the Military Base Planning Commission. It is an important commission because of New Mexico’s financial dependency on military bases and the possibility of more federal cutbacks.

Overriding vetoes: Last year, the Senate unanimously passed and the House overwhelmingly passed a bill to require annual reports on the fiscal impact of tax breaks and incentives offered by state government, something which is done in other states. But Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed Senate Bill 7, which was sponsored by Sen. Tim Keller, D-Albuquerque, and Rep. Luciano “Lucky” Varela, D-Santa Fe.

Keller on Monday made a motion to override the governor’s veto. “Without this bill creating a tax expenditure budget, meaningful tax reform and business incentives are impossible to evaluate,” Keller said in a news release. “The result of this veto is a preemptive strike against meaningful efforts to bring accountability and transparency to our tax and budget.”

Last year was the second time Martinez vetoed a tax-expenditure bill. Former Gov. Bill Richardson also vetoed a similar bill.

Meanwhile, Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, who is running for governor in the Democratic primary, moved to override Martinez’s veto of last year’s SB 588, which would have created a different evaluation system for teachers and principals. Morales in a statement said the bill was necessary because “educators deserve to be evaluated by those who know that system inside and out.”

An override would require a daunting two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate.

Archived Legislature webcasts: Ever want to watch the Legislature in action, but something like, say, work, interferes with your schedule and you can’t do it?

State Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, plans to introduce a rule change that would require the Legislative Council Service to save all the webcasts so those who don’t spend their days and nights at the Roundhouse can watch at their convenience. Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, will co-sponsor the measure.

“It’s vitally important that the citizens of the state be provided the opportunity to watch our legislative process in action and learn about critical policy issues being discussed,” Steinborn said in a news release Monday. “Technology easily allows us the ability to broadcast and archive these meetings, so folks can watch them at times that fit their schedule.”

The decision not to archive came in the early days of webcasting when some legislative leaders argued that saving the videos could result in political “mischief,” such campaign ads containing clips showing lawmakers sleeping, goofing off or casting controversial votes.

Steinborn also said he will introduce another measure that would require the Legislative Council Service to webcast all interim committee hearings. “During this last summer, there was increased public interest in following interim committee legislative hearings related to Gov. Martinez’ shake up of the state’s mental health system,” the news release said.

Co-sponsoring this will be Senate President Pro-tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces.

Senators salivate: Stomachs rumbled on the Senate floor Monday. Senators voting during lunchtime on the confirmation of board members to the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum heard mouthwatering descriptions of the food the appointees have raised.

Appointee Nick Carson’s wheat has traveled all the way from Rincon to Italy, where it became pasta. Undoubtedly, it would pair nicely with the mozzarella from fellow appointee Beverly Idsinga’s dairy in Portales.

Paying the cost: Gov. Susana Martinez has signed a measure into law to provide more than $5 million for costs of the 30-day legislative session.

The legislation, which is known by lawmakers as the “feed bill,” was signed on Monday.

The measure also provides $16 million for the Legislature’s year-round operations.

The governor used her line-item veto powers to eliminate a provision that would have provided flexibility to the Legislative Council Service and others, such as the Legislative Finance Committee, to make adjustments within their budgets next year.

Lawmakers can still provide that budget transfer authority as a provision in the state’s main budget when it’s considered later in the session.

Looking Ahead:

• What’s being billed as the 1,000 Kid March is coming to the east entrance of the Roundhouse 10:30 a.m. today There will be a marching band and speakers talking about early childhood education. Following the performance, children will participate in “circle-time sit-ups” inside the Capitol.

• Farmers, food businesses and advocates will rally at the Roundhouse at 9 a.m. Wednesday to show support for House Bill 81, sponsored by Rep. Don Tripp, R-Socorro, and Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas. The bill would provide $1.44 million for schools to buy New Mexico-grown fruits and vegetables for school lunches.

• Immigrants and allies from across the state will lobby legislators in opposition to the governor’s latest effort to repeal the state law that allows issuance of driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. Somos Un Pueblo Unido says this year’s “Immigrant Day of Action” will feature a delegation of immigrant workers and their families from the southeastern part of the state who work in agriculture, dairies and the oil and gas industries. Participants will deliver hundreds of personalized milk cartons, hard hats and petitions to legislators to remind them of the contributions they make to the state’s economy.

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