Friday, March 21, 2003
Around the Roundhouse
Staff and Wire Reports
ALBUQUERQUE BILLS ON WAY TO GOV.
SANTA FE Two measures that would change the powers of the city of Albuquerque are headed to Gov. Bill Richardson's desk.
The first (SB 241) would take the city's zoning powers away in the five-mile extraterritorial zone around the city. The city and county right now have jurisdiction over that area.
The bill, sponsored by Senate Majority Floor Leader Manny Aragon, D-Albuquerque, also would mean that the Bernalillo County Commission would have control over annexations something city officials oppose.
A separate measure (SB 887 committee substitute) would set up a joint city-county authority to oversee the city's $5 billion utility.
AMBER ALERT BILL ON GOV.'S DESK
SANTA FE Lawmakers have sent Gov. Bill Richardson a proposal for the state to operate an Amber Alert system to help locate missing children.
The measure puts into law a system that the State Police have established in cooperation with broadcasters in New Mexico.
HOUSE APPROVES FUNDS FOR PROJECTS
SANTA FE A proposal to spend $109 million on construction projects and capital improvements across the state cleared the House and was awaiting amendments by the Senate.
The bill, as passed by the House, called for spending $25 million from the state's general budget account, $63 million from bonds supported by oil and gas revenues to the state and nearly $21 million from other state funds.
Among the projects financed in the bill: almost $2.2 million for building renovations at New Mexico Highland University; $2 million for laptop computers for seventh graders statewide; $5 million for renovations at the Miner's Colfax Medical Center; $2 million for stadium improvements at the University of New Mexico; and $4 million for purchase of a State Police helicopter.
MINORITY PARTY BILL CALLED UNFAIR
SANTA FE The Green Party's most recent candidate for governor has asked a Senate panel to shelve legislation making it harder for the Greens to remain a major party.
David Bacon said the Legislature's handling of the bill was "glaringly unfair," and he asked the Rules Committee to table the measure.
The proposed changes, Bacon said, were an "arbitrary move on the part of the ... party in power," the Democrats.
Bacon said Greens weren't consulted about the bill, which was sponsored by House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Santa Fe. The bill remained in the Rules Committee.
Currently, a major party must have a membership of one-third of 1 percent of registered voters, and a candidate for governor or president who got at least 5 percent of the vote in the most recent general election. The Greens now qualify on both counts; Bacon got 5 percent when he ran in November.
The Lujan bill, however, would require major parties to have a membership of at least 4 percent of registered voters about 38,000 to 40,000, according to the Greens. They now have about 11,500.
GOV. GETS BILL ON SLOT PAYOFFS
SANTA FE Race tracks and veterans and fraternal clubs could increase the payout from their slot machines under a bill the Legislature sent Gov. Bill Richardson.
Current law requires slot machines to pay out the equivalent of 80 percent to 96 percent of wagering.
The legislation removes the 96 percent cap, allowing the tracks to better compete with Indian casinos, which have the same minimum payout but no cap.