Here are the key legislative races to watch

Today is the day that candidates for state House and Senate file to say that they are, indeed, running. As candidates file their intention to run for public office, we decided to take a look forward a few months to what districts the two parties will be focusing on come November and the general elections. The top of the ticket matters. Two years ago, Republicans took the state House of Representatives for the first time in a half-century. That same election saw Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, trounce Democratic opponent Gary King by more than 14 points statewide.

REAL ID/driver’s license liveblog

The discussion in Senate Public Affairs Committee on five pieces of legislation related to REAL ID promises to be one of the more interesting discussions this legislative session and we will be liveblogging the whole thing today. The committee will look at legislation to put New Mexico in line with the federal REAL ID Act and address that the state allows those who are in the country illegally to have driver’s licenses. The bills are:

—SB 174: Driver’s License Issuance & REAL ID by Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque. —SB 216: Driver’s License Issuance & REAL ID by Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho. —SB 231: Driver’s License Issuance & REAL ID by Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas.

Leave driver’s licenses alone; issue an optional REAL ID card

Pete Campos is a Democrat who represents Senate District 8. Lost amid the confusion, frustration and posturing regarding the federal government’s mandates for state driver’s licenses is an obvious solution:  create a REAL ID card for those New Mexicans who want it and who qualify for it and keep the debate over driver’s licenses for immigrants separate. No one is happy with the federal government’s decision to change the requirements to board an airplane just to fly from Albuquerque to Denver.  But, we all want a safe and secure country, and we recognize that the changes are the result of the investigation into how terrorists managed to board airplanes on September 11, 2001. It’s our job now to do what we can to help New Mexicans get the documents they need to travel by air.

This legislative session, the main thing has to be the main thing

Pete Campos is a Democrat from Las Vegas who represents Senate District 8. For the past several years, as the holidays draw near and the legislative session looms just beyond them, I have written an article outlining the challenges facing New Mexico and trying to map out solutions to them. This year feels different. Perhaps it is because I recently retired from my full-time job and now have much more time to devote to my service as a state senator and because I continue to talk with and listen carefully to people from all over the state. Of course, as the years go by, the number of challenges we face as New Mexicans never really gets smaller, and some challenges remain year after year.

Time to work wiser and smarter

State Sen. Pete Campos is a Democrat who represents the 8th Senate District in New Mexico. In early June, the New Mexico Legislature met for a one-day session to pass supplemental appropriations for some state agencies, a tax relief package and, most importantly, a $295 million capital outlay package to inject much-needed infrastructure funding into communities and projects across the state.  While it is true that a special session only became necessary because the legislature could not come to an agreement among a majority of its members and the governor, the negotiation, passage and signing of the special session bills are a prime example of how effective policymakers in New Mexico can be when we all agree on the importance of something and are willing to compromise on a solution to fix it. I am retired now, and so, since July 1, I have spent day after day traveling around New Mexico, beginning in the district I represent.  In each community I visit, and with most of the people I speak with, several recurring themes emerge.  Communities in every corner of the state, many of them small, rural ones, have educational facilities and state and local highways, bridges and roads in dire need of repair or replacement and small businesses just trying to survive.  Community leaders also repeatedly identify a need to improve infrastructure delivery for clean water, wastewater and solid waste systems and good public health care and health care facilities as important. The State of New Mexico can do a lot more to help these people and their communities!  We have a capital outlay system that begs for meaningful reform.  Millions of unspent dollars languish in state coffers that realistically are not sufficient to complete a phase or an entire project, and no other alternative exists but to claw back or revert these funds.  These funds could be put to use improving roads, schools and public water systems.  More could be done to encourage people to take advantage of free or low-cost preventive health care services, which will lead to lower health care costs and healthier lifestyles. These are a few steps we can take, some simple and others more complex, to continue assisting New Mexico with its immediate problems and simultaneously move toward solving issues that hold back our efforts to improve our health, safety and the economy.  This fundamental approach will prepare us for a more robust economy, a skilled, healthy and happy work force gainfully employed and the basis to keep our children living and working in the state.

Pete Campos retiring from Luna Community College

State Senator Pete Campos announced plans to retire from his position as President of Luna Community College. Campos made the announcement through a release on the Luna Community College website. “It has been my pleasure to serve in a role where I have been able to make a definite improvement in the operation of the College and in the education of its students,” Campos said in the statement. “We want to thank Dr. Campos for all his service,” said Luna Community College Board Chairman Dan Romero said in a statement. “Most recently, he guided the college through our national accreditation and has moved our nursing program forward.

Abortion bill more worthy of efforts

RUBE RENDER is the Curry County Republican Chairman and a local columnist with the Clovis News Journal. In a recent edition of the “Journal of Medical Ethics” two Oxford University medical ethicists argue that “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.”

This leads them to the conclusion that parents should be allowed to have their newborn babies killed, as ending their lives is no different than an abortion. Whenever some print media covers the abortion issue, they always put scare quotes around the “so called” partial-birth abortion. One reason they do this is that to call the killing of a fully formed baby in the birth canal what it actually is would be murder. Several states have passed legislation that bans abortion after 20 weeks and the New Mexico Legislature attempted it once again during its just-completed 60-day session.

Campos (mostly) denies presidential ambitions

Senator Pete Campos, a Democrat from Las Vegas, proudly refers to himself as a moderate. He’s also well aware that his votes on some of the state’s most divisive policy measures have fed gossip about possible quid pro quo deals with the governor’s office. Campos, who is also president of Luna County Community College, said he noticed—and hoped to quash—pointed questions circulating on social media after he and four other Democrats helped tipped the scales in favor of the nomination of Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera. Eyebrows were also raised when he was the only Democrat to vote in favor of attorney Matt Chandler during a particularly contentious hearing over his nomination to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents. “I was just waiting for someone to ask me,” Campos told the New Mexico Political Report on Monday.

Senate rejects Chandler’s appointment to UNM Board of Regents

The full Senate voted to stop the appointment of a former District Attorney to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents on Friday. The Senate voted to adopt an adverse committee report from the Senate Rules Committee on the nomination of Matt Chandler. Ahead of the vote, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, the president of the chamber, noted this would be rejecting the appointment. Gov. Susana Martinez appointed Chandler in 2014. The vote was nearly on party-lines, with Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, voting against accepting the committee report.