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Editorial

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 By Senator Pete Campos

The 2019 legislative session will be a session of great change, and the New Mexico education system is a top priority. Parents, guardians and teachers should be able to assure students that an education will lead to success in careers and in life, in general. The strength of our current society is that developed intellect, cultivated skills and earned credentials matter.

Improving New Mexico's educational system will keep our population healthy, attract more high- quality jobs and set New Mexico on the path of long-term success.

The consolidated cases of Yazzie/Martinez v. State of New Mexico highlight some of the problems New Mexico has faced in recent years. We must thoughtfully establish a long-term plan to address our constitutional and statutory obligations to all students. Our diverse state deserves an equally diverse education. Multicultural schooling should be accessible to Spanish, English and indigenous language speakers regardless of the intellectual, socioeconomic or physical aspects of their lives. Teachers should be supported as they implement techniques that inspire independent thinking and prepare students for college and careers.

The ideas are endless, but our goals are attainable. First steps include developing a replacement for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers examinations, know as the PARCC, that can utilize the best parts of the PARCC and remedy the worst; creating standards and continuity to ensure positive outcomes for all school districts; strengthening high school and post-secondary career counseling and placement centers; and addressing the needs of all students, with a focus on at-risk and nontraditional students. New Mexico has many highly qualified education professionals, including assessment developers and teachers, who can assist in our endeavors.

 https://www.whitehouse.gov/articles/president-trump-sends-letter-border-security/

January 4, 2019
This morning, President Donald J. Trump sent a letter to all Members of Congress on the need to secure our borders. He attached a presentation that Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen was planning to deliver during a meeting with Congressional leadership in the White House Situation Room earlier this week.

Some of those present did not want to hear the presentation at the time, and so the President decided to make it available to all Members of Congress.

Below is the full text of the President’s letter, along with a gallery featuring the presentation slides.

Dear Members of Congress:

Congratulations to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and her entire team, on her election to be Speaker of the House. I look forward to working together on our shared priorities for the American People, including rebuilding our infrastructure, reforming unfair trade deals, and reducing the price of prescription drugs. Our recent bipartisan success on numerous legislative accomplishments such as Criminal Justice Reform, opioid legislation, and the Farm Bill, underscores the extraordinary achievements that are possible when we rise above party politics to advance the good of the Nation as a whole.

Hope, Outreach and Service

Op-Ed by Sen. Pete Campos

Today's youth are anxious to complete an educational degree, jump-start their careers and begin earning good wages. As a significant multicultural population, we all have high hopes that our way of life can be successfully and meaningfully passed on to our families. To do this, a deep understanding of our majestic landscapes, life with scarce water sources, foods, art, music, lowrider and motorcycle clubs, life in small communities, farms, ranches and unique personal experiences is essential. Once our way of life is fully integrated and each person is recognized for our purpose — regardless where we choose to live — then the state's collage of talents, products and services will "operate as one", and we will rise to the top of the country's good lists.

By Paul J. Gessing

After eight years of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez in office, what is her legacy? She was the first Latina governor in America soon to be followed by Michelle Lujan-Grisham who will be the 2nd Latina to hold that position. By itself, this is an important legacy for Martinez, but what about her policies and their impact on New Mexico?

At the Rio Grande Foundation we look at issues from an economic perspective and we make no bones about being fiscally-conservative. Unfortunately, the first Martinez legacy is Medicaid expansion. The program which will cost New Mexico taxpayers $1 billion next year was expanded by President Obama as the core element of his “ObamaCare” program. States were given the choice over whether or not to accept this “free” money for what will turn into a costly entitlement expansion for the states as they are called upon to pick up more of the program’s costs.

By New Mexico District 38 Rep. Rebecca Dow

Think back to the time you were in your elementary school lunch room. Do you remember there was always someone who wanted you to trade away your dessert? You didn’t fall for a bad trade back then, we shouldn’t fall for it now.

Anyone who attends a public school or college in New Mexico is the beneficiary of the oil and gas industry. As the 2019 Legislative Session approaches it’s up to all of us to ensure critical education funding keeps flowing to our classrooms without needless regulations on one end and unfunded mandates on the other.

By Richard Aguino, Veteran and Former AARP Staff Member

As a veteran and an advocate for those on tribal lands, as well as an advocate for the elderly, I have seen firsthand the need for public transit across rural New Mexico. Personally, I have relied upon public transit for years, to get me to and from work, to get me to different communities, and to get me to medical appointments at the VA.

During my time advocating for improved transit and utilizing transit, I have been afforded the opportunity to cross paths with many just like myself and to hear their stories. Whether people are riding public transit due to financial need, a lack of a driver’s license, a medical condition, or some other need, people rely on transit because it is affordable, convenient and reliable.

In the veteran community, this is incredibly important. While there are smaller clinics in surrounding communities, specialists and doctors for the VA are in Albuquerque, making it difficult for many veterans to access care without the use of public transit. Public transit not only provides access to medical care, but it also provides veterans the opportunity to get around with freedom and independence. Further, with door-to-door service offered by certain transit systems, veterans have expanded options for accessing the care they need. These transit systems are much more affordable than using a vehicle, and in some cases are free.

This is imperative in rural areas of our state, including tribal land. I have been pleased to see the expanded routes and connections, providing far more options than were formerly available, and it is my hope to see the future of transit expand even more to provide convenient access to public transit for all in tribal and rural areas.

Public transit serves entire communities in many ways; yet, it is easy for some to overlook the benefits of transit, as it may not be a part of their daily routine. However, for the veterans, the elderly population, and those with financial need, transit provides freedom and creates opportunity.

Many in our communities rely upon public transit, and it is not simply an option—it is their only option for transportation.

By: Marlene C. Baca, CEO of New Mexico Health Connections

As we near the end of the year, we naturally begin planning for 2019. When you make resolutions for better financial and physical health at the start of the new year, health insurance may not be at the top of your list. However, adequate health coverage will have a dramatic impact on both your financial and your overall health and well-being.

But the time for you to take action is not January 1 – the time is now. Open Enrollment for individual health coverage began on November 15 and ends at midnight on December 15, 2018 for coverage that begins January 1, 2019.

If you think you cannot afford health insurance, consider what might happen if you don’t have it. Insurance protects your financial and physical health. It offers you peace of mind that if something goes wrong, you and your family will be covered. No one plans to get sick or hurt, but health problems can come up very unexpectedly. Whether it’s a broken bone, appendicitis, a sports injury, a car accident, or a serious health diagnosis, you and your family could be stuck with staggering medical costs if you do not have adequate coverage.

By Cisco McSorley, NM State Senator

The Albuquerque Journal reported on September 17 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warnings to 22 New Mexico businesses and fined one of them this past summer for selling electronic cigarettes to minors. It is of course illegal to sell e-cigarettes and tobacco to people younger than 18. Since the perpetrators include some of the nation’s largest mainstream retailers and convenience stores, including Walmart, Walgreen’s and 7-Eleven, itshould illustrate to policy makers and citizens alike why tough, urgent action is needed at the state and local level.

Earlier the federal FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb stated that e-cigarette use, or ‘vaping’, among teenagers nationally now has reached “an epidemic proportion”. New Mexico’s youth are no exception. He subsequently announced new, sweeping government enforcement to halt sales to minors, targeting both manufacturers and retailers. Commissioner Gottlieb listened to public health advocates, parents and teachers, and is to be commended for his bold decision - but much more help is needed.

E-cigarette devices heat liquid - frequently infused with nicotine - into an inhalable vapor. They are sold in over 7,000 sugary flavors targeted to kids, like mango, cherry, strawberry and cotton candy. New high-tech, high-nicotine vaping products like Juuls and Blu are addicting a whole new generation of young people, putting them at risk for even more dangerous smoking tobacco use that would reverse decades of progress. More than 30 percent of teens who use electronic cigarettes go on to smoke traditional tobacco within six months of beginning the use the electronic versions.

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