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Richardson talks death penalty, N. Korea with pope

Dan McKaySANTA FE – Former Gov. Bill Richardson visited Pope Francis at the Vatican this week, and he had some advice for the pope about North Korea.

Richardson, a Democrat who served as governor of New Mexico from 2003 to 2011, traveled to see the pope as part of his work with the International Commission Against the Death Penalty.

“I urged Pope Francis to accept the invitation from Kim Jong Un to visit North Korea, because it would reduce tension and promote religious freedom,” Richardson said in a Facebook post. “We also discussed issues related to Nicaragua and the Philippines, as well as the rise of populism in Europe.

Ex-Gov. Bill Richardson

“The pope, who was celebrating his 82nd birthday, looked healthy and was in great spirits. He graciously met with us for over 50 minutes.”

Richardson signed a bill in 2009 repealing New Mexico’s death penalty and replacing it with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Richardson called the pope “a strong and outspoken ally in our mission to end this inhumane and unjust practice across the world.”

Richardson, 71, is a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, energy secretary and congressman.

RICH ON RADIO: Republican Mick Rich will hit the radio waves every week, starting next month.

Mick Rich

He will have his own half-hour segment at 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays, and he will be a regular guest on the weekday drive-time show that starts at 6 p.m. – both on KIVA radio in Albuquerque, 95.9 FM or 1600 AM.

Rich was the GOP nominee this year for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Martin Heinrich. He lost to Heinrich by 23 percent points, finishing second in a three-way race.

LAME-DUCK ORDER: Gov. Susana Martinez is down to her last couple of weeks in office, but she’s still pursuing some policy goals.

She issued an executive order this week requiring state agencies to complete a financial analysis of the impact of any rule or regulation change they propose.

“Improving our regulatory environment,” Martinez said in a news release, “has been a top priority for this administration, and analyzing each proposed rule is another step forward in ensuring that regulations are created responsibly and transparently.”

A new governor, of course, will be empowered soon to issue her own executive orders.

Martinez, a Republican, will be succeeded by Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham on New Year’s Day.

Dan McKay: