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Pay attention, New Mexico residents, your "representatives" may not be representing your will.

I have lived in New Mexico for almost 20 years. Most of the time, although I have not always agreed with decisions made by the New Mexico Legislature, I've realized that with the good usually comes bad.

But this year, in the 2010 legislative session, something has drastically changed.

Although the Legislature has been controlled and dominated by Democrats for most of the past 60 years, with only two years recently having a majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives, the state remains at the bottom of good lists and at the top of bad lists.

By Angela Garcia, owner of The Toy Box, Las Cruces, NM 

Creating universal PreK for all New Mexico children is on objective of the legislature this year. Many legislators and the governor ran on this issue and want to see it become reality. We support universal PreK, and we want everyone to know that. But we are also saying to the governor and legislators, please don’t close down all child care centers in the state as an unintended consequence.

Universal PreK is an amazing goal and we urge everyone to support that goal. The problem is that the legislature is thinking about putting all PreK programs in the state’s Public Education Department. That would have the effect of closing most child care centers in our state.

The reason is that Senator Soules’s bill, SB 298, would take all four-year-olds out of existing PreK programs in childcare centers. We can’t afford to lose so many students. This would be devastating to childcare centers around the state, potentially ending childcare as we know it.

Simply put, if they put all four-year-old PreK programs through PED, we all lose. If childcare centers lose 4-year-old PreK to PED, it will not be financially viable for childcare facilities to stay open. We will all, and I mean all, suffer extreme financial hardship leading to closure.

What does that mean? Well, it means that there will be no childcare centers for infants, toddlers and all age children who attend our facilities. Working parents will have to find other sources for childcare, because there will be no childcare centers left to service their children. It also means that there will not be “wrap-around services,” or services before and after school, for the four-year-olds and school age children.

In short, our children, and our working families, will be much worse off.

NMACI is asking for better employer protections in the bill that would legalize cannabis in NM

New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry (NMACI) today announced that it cannot support the Cannabis Regulation Act (HB356) as it is written due to serious concerns over workplace safety. ACI will testify against the bill’s incomplete language at a House Health and Human Services Committee hearing on Saturday, Feb. 9, in Santa Fe.

The bill, HB356, which is sponsored by five representatives, would legalize cannabis as a recreational drug by eliminating the penalties associated with it. However, the current language does not allow employers to create a safe environment and it restricts their ability to enforce drug-free workplace policies.

Clue: It isn't the Republican Party!

We're Watching HB206, Which Could Kill Jobs

By Rob Black of the New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry

This year ACI is focused on supporting New Mexico’s Jobs Package in Santa Fe, creating more paychecks for New Mexican’s. However, we are also looking at the bills that create pink slips and kill jobs. One such bill was HB247, entitled “Increase Corporate Income Tax Rates”, and it aimed to do exactly that.

 By Etta Pettijohn

Several firearms bills cleared a key House committee this week and are scheduled for debate on the Floor in both chambers of the New Mexico Legislature in coming days.

Two of the most contentious ones would require background checks on private gun sales; and allow family members, ex family members, stepchildren, former spouses (whether they are residing in the same dwelling or not) and a host of others to seek ex-parte court orders to take guns temporarily from someone they believe is an immediate threat to themselves or others. Lawmakers voted along party lines, with democrats voting for and republicans against the measures.

By Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham

Fair pay for honest work. Let’s start there, where I think we can all agree.

Too many New Mexicans, however, are trying to make a life or jumpstart a young working career out of what is effectively spare change.

Workers and students and part-time working parents all across New Mexico are taking home too little, trying to stretch dollars as far as they’ll go to pay for basic necessities.

Op-Ed by Rep. Jim Townsend, House Minority Leader

Our Constituents should not have to read the fine print in order to see how their tax dollars are spent and by whom. Accounting for individual earmarking and capital outlay isn’t always transparent, but it should be.

Historically, Legislators are awarded equal amounts of Capital Outlay to take home to their Districts. Each Legislator has the ability to publicize their use of those funds, which some do and some do not. If we really want transparency, every legislator should publicize every capital outlay project every time. These expenditures are very important to every district and most critical to the smaller and sparsely populated areas. Rural districts don’t have the same ability as the Albuquerque and Bernalillo areas. In those more populated areas, there are many Representatives and Senators to combine capital outlay funds. However, in rural New Mexico each Legislator may represent two to six counties and must divide their capital outlay among many areas.

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