February 12, 2016

Odds and Ends: House says goodbye to Varela, Irwin

Matthew Reichbach

—No three things to look for tomorrow morning, thanks to the late night of hearings. So here the stories you might have missed from Friday are at the bottom of this post. There are a lot of good ones.

Roundhouse at night—The two most popular members of the House on Friday morning? Reps. Lucky Varela, D-Santa Fe, and Dona Irwin, D-Deming. That’s because they House honored both for their long service. Both are not running for reelection.

Varela has been a mainstay on the House Appropriations and Finance Committee and has served since 1987 in the House.

Irwin has been in the House since 1999.

“Lucky’s advice is always advice that should be taken,” House Minority Leader Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, said.

“I didn’t know that he had a regular name,” House Majority Whip Alonzo Baldonado, R-Los Lunas, said, saying he thought his parents named him Lucky.

Rep. Jim Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, credited Irwin with being a key proponent of the small winery industry in the state.

“Now that Kiki’s gone and  you’re going to leave, no one’s left to laugh at my jokes,” Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas said.

—Following the release of the State Auditor’s latest report showing how much unallocated money remains in state accounts, Democratic Senators honed in on the capital outlay funds that remain unspent at a press conference on Friday morning.

“Now more than ever, we are calling on Governor Susana Martinez to put aside her secretive, partisan agenda and work across party lines to address New Mexico’s worst-in-the-nation job growth and stagnant economic policies,” Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, said. “We ask the governor to put our children and their future ahead of her political agenda and begin the process of retooling her public education department, which is devastating communities all over New Mexico.”

In all, Padilla and two other Democrats said that there was over $1 billion in capital outlay funds ready to be spent—and they say they’re Martinez’s projects.

“These are the statewide projects, they’re not the legislative projects,” Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, said.

This week, scientists confirmed that they finally had the first confirmation of gravitational waves, as predicted by Albert Einstein in his Theory of General Relativity. Sen. Bill Soules, D-Las Cruces, honored this by wearing an Albert Einstein tie.

Soules was also at the press conference with Padilla and McSorley.

Also, part of the team that confirmed the existence of waves is based out of Los Alamos National Labs.

—No three things to look for tomorrow morning, thanks to the late night of hearings. So here are the stories you might have missed from Friday.