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Saturday, March 22, 2003

Around the Roundhouse

Staff and Wire Reports
    SENATE SAYS NO TO MVD CHARGES
    SANTA FE A bill that could have increased costs for electronic copies of records from the Motor Vehicles Division was shot down by the state Senate on a 13-27 vote.
    House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Santa Fe, sponsored the measure (HB 927) in the House and Senate Majority Leader Manny Aragon, D-Albuquerque, sponsored the measure (SB 872) in the Senate. The Senate acted on the House version.
    Aragon said the bill would have allowed the Taxation and Revenue Department to charge a "reasonable amount" to pay for copies from and upkeep of electronic record databases.
    But opponents, including the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government and the New Mexico Press Association, of which the Journal is a member, said the bill left open the fees that the department could charge.
    "This would allow Tax and Rev to say pass the bill and we'll tell you how it will work later," said Bob Johnson, FOG's executive director.
   

    BILL WOULD FORM LANDSCAPE TRUST
    SANTA FE Landscapes with historic or cultural significance could be preserved under legislation headed to the governor's desk.
    The proposal, which got final approval from the Legislature on Thursday, would create a public nonprofit corporation, the Historic Landscape Trust.
    The trust would identify the landscapes such as parks, plazas, gardens or building grounds that merit protection and preservation.
    The trust, which could accept private gifts as well as public funding, would be responsible for developing a historic landscape system in New Mexico.
   

    ELK PERMITS WOULD BE RESERVED FOR SICK
    SANTA FE A bill setting aside two elk permits each year for young people with life-threatening illnesses is headed to Gov. Bill Richardson's desk.
    Under the legislation, sponsored by Rep. Bengie Regensberg, D-Cleveland, the state Game Commission is required to reserve the licenses.
    They would go to those under 21 who are determined by doctors to have life-threatening illnesses and who qualify through a nonprofit group, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
   

    DO-NOT-CALL LIST MAY BE ON WAY
    SANTA FE New Mexicans could put their names on a state do-not-call list to avoid telemarketers under a measure endorsed by the House on Friday.
    Under the bill, the state registry also would include people who are on a national do-not-call list planned by the Federal Trade Commission.
    "This is merely a state statute that piggybacks on to federal regulations," Rep. Al Park, D-Albuquerque, said, referring to the FTC list.
    The bill will clear the Legislature if the Senate agrees to the House-passed version of the measure. The House proposal allows some groups to continue calling New Mexicans.
    All telemarketers except for real estate agents, political candidates, public opinion pollsters and businesses that had pre-existing relationships with those on the list, such as a person's dentist would be prohibited from calling.
    The state's do-not-call measure would be more restrictive than the FTC list.
    The state Attorney General's Office would keep the state registry which would be updated quarterly and oversee enforcement.
    Companies that made calls to consumers registered on the do-not-call list could face misdemeanor charges. Consumers also could sue telemarketers who call and could be awarded $500 per violation.