Until earlier this year, states across the nation, including New Mexico, had been holding public meetings and planning to cut pollution from power plants. Taken as a whole, those plans were the Obama Administration’s most significant attempt, through the Clean Power Plan (CPP), to cut U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases. With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unable to adhere to the original timeline for requiring states to complete their carbon-cutting plans or face implementation of a federal plan, Texas, Utah, and 18 others suspended work. Others like Colorado, California, Oregon, and many northeastern states continued planning.But in February, the Supreme Court stayed implementation of the CPP, pending the outcome of a lawsuit against the plan before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Then, there’s New Mexico.
While former state Rep. Sandra Jeff avoided ballot disqualification after a recent scuffle with the Secretary of State, several questions remain about possible discrepancies in previous campaign reports. The biggest question is the sudden disappearance of more than $27,000 in debt from her failed 2014 campaign for reelection to the state House of Representatives. In July 2014, Jeff reported a loan contribution of $26,720.82 from Gallagher & Kennedy, a law firm with offices in Santa Fe and Phoenix. A note next to the contribution reads, “Campaign Debt for legal fees incurred.”
Jeff continued to report this debt, plus an extra $1,200 that she loaned to herself, for the next six campaign reporting periods, marking a period of nearly two years. But on March 15 of this year, Jeff amended seven old campaign reports from the 2014 election cycle.
Former State Rep. Sandra Jeff is back for another run at the state legislature. This time, she is setting her sights on a Senate seat. She is running in the Democratic primary against Sen. Benny Shendo in Senate District 22. Jeff told NM Political Report that she felt “very confident” after she finished the filing process on Tuesday afternoon. She said Shendo has a bad habit of not returning to his district and talking with his constituents.
Conservation Voters New Mexico released the group’s annual conservation scorecard that rates legislators on how they voted on select conservation bills. While releasing the card, the group noted that it has successfully fought back what it calls anti-conservation legislation for 11 years in a row—but the new House Republican majority made it a more difficult fight. “We knew that we were in for a brutal fight to hold back the anti-conservation legislation,” executive director Demis Foster said on the conference call announcing the results. Foster said that a new trend showed more legislators than ever—37—earned 100 percent scores while more legislators than ever —nine—earned a 0 percent score. Senate scores higher than House
Members of the Senate received higher scores from CVNM than the House.
Gov. Susana Martinez rejected a bill that would extend the Solar Market Development Tax Credit in the state—and supporters aren’t sure why. Martinez pocket vetoed the legislation, which means she did not sign the legislation before the deadline on action for bills passed in the final days of the legislative session. Unlike a regular veto, the 18 pieces of legislation that Martinez pocket vetoed do not come with an executive message that says why Martinez did not agree with the legislation. Groups that supported the solar tax credit extension do not know why the bill was pocket vetoed. “We’ve been asking and we haven’t heard a reason,” Sanders Moore, state director of Environment New Mexico, told New Mexico Political Report.
A bill that could privatize New Mexico’s critical public services, like water, has passed through two committees and passed the House late Wednesday night (HB 299, sponsored by Rep. Larry Larrañaga). Public-private partnerships, or P3s, range from a company designing and constructing a new school, to a government contracting with a company to operate and maintain a road or a water utility. Private companies are pushing hard to expand P3s in our state. HB 299 is one of the broadest, if not the broadest, pieces of P3 legislation in the country in terms of scope of authorized projects, breadth of governmental entities involved, lack of oversight (legislative and executive), lack of public transparency and financial risks. Sadly, it’s not surprising that after the state has handed huge tax breaks to corporations over the years and can no longer afford to keep up with infrastructure needs some lawmakers mistakenly think that we should let private corporations cash in on these needs by building or operating much-needed infrastructure.