New Mexico Legislature’s Science, Technology and Telecommunications Committee meeting Sept. 24-25 in Deming and Columbus*
(Deming) – The New Mexico Legislature’s Science, Technology and Telecommunications Committee will meet Sept. 24-25 in Deming and Columbus.
State Representative Candie Sweetser (D-Deming) serves as vice-chair of the committee.
The Sept. 24 meeting will start at 9 a.m. at the Andres Z. Silva Conference Center with local officials welcoming lawmakers to the community, followed by a project-status update from the state Department of Information Technology presented by Acting Secretary Estevan Lujan.
Lawmakers will tour the algae farm west of Columbus where Omega 3 fatty acids are being harvested for human and animal feed supplements. They also plan to visit the new international port of entry being built south of Columbus.
Other agenda topics tentatively include science and technology needs for a global minerals’ development firm, an update on the New Mexico State University Sunspot Consortium, education for careers in aquaponic farming, developments in cloud computing for public agencies and cybersecurity, and cross-walking data bases to increase efficiency for driver's license renewals.
All sessions are open to the public, and there will be a public comment period.
Check the Legislature’s website (www.nmlegis.gov) for the full agenda.
Tuesday, July 24, 2018
The state of New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the United States. Its capital is Santa Fe. New Mexico is bordered by Oklahoma and Texas on the east. The south is bordered by Texas, Chihuahua, and Sonora. The west is surrounded by Arizona while the north is bordered by Colorado. New Mexico shares a 190 mile border with Mexican states Chihuahua and Sonora. New Mexico’s climate is mostly arid. The land is composed of mountains, high plains, and deserts which range from rose-colored, to broken mesas, to snow-capped peaks. The land is mostly dry and gets little water, yet, New Mexico is heavily forested in the north. New Mexico has an area of around 121,665 square miles and is the fifth biggest state in the United States; however, with a population of about 2 million persons, New Mexico is the sixth most sparsely inhabited U.S. state. The economy of New Mexico is focused on oil, gas production, and tourism.
New Mexico shares three ports of entry with Mexican state Chihuahua including: Antelope Wells, New Mexico with El Berrendo, Chihuahua; Columbus, New Mexico with Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua; and Santa Teresa, New Mexico with San Jerónimo, Chihuahua.
Algernon D'Ammassa, The Deming Headlight
Published 9:00 a.m. MT Feb. 28, 2018 | Updated 5:00 p.m. MT March 1, 2018
Oil and gas revenue provided breathing room, but challenges remain
DEMING – “When you have money, the tone is better,” observed Sen. John Arthur Smith. At the 2018 legislative session, the tone was much better than last year.
On the other hand, Smith – who has served in the state Senate since 1989 – suggested short memories or wishful thinking can overrule fiscal prudence.
New Mexico's 30-day legislative session concluded on Feb. 15, and Deming’s delegation to the Roundhouse, Sen. Smith and Rep. Candie Sweetser (both D-Deming), both reflected on a month when lawmakers sent a $6.3 billion budget to Gov. Susana Martinez without the partisan rancor or threats of furloughs that defined last year’s session.
Sweetser described the tone as bipartisan and genial throughout, in contrast to the "baptism of fire" she witnessed as a freshman legislator last year.
With an upturn in oil and gas revenue beginning last fall, lawmakers were able to restore money that had been swept from state agencies and school district accounts, fund more projects, and boost pay for teachers, state police, and other state workers.
More: Who won, who lost the 2018 legislative session
"The process was much more positive than working on state budget solvency, freezing positions, and cutting funding," said Sweetser.
Smith, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said he was pleased to see cash reserves replenished to an extent. He also fended off an effort to raise distributions from New Mexico's Land Grant Permanent Fund to 6 percent from 5 percent as a way to fund early childhood programs.
Smith has stated the proposed amendment to the state Constitution did not have enough votes to pass his committee anyway, but he also philosophically opposes raising distributions from the Permanent Fund past 5 percent. “Most people don’t realize what it does," said Smith. "They just see a pile of money there to be spent, but that’s an endowment fund.”
The fund distributed $638 million, mostly for public education, in Fiscal Year 2017, according to the State Investment Council.
MORE: Finance chair John Arthur Smith holds sway over child-related funding
Smith was supportive of pay increases and said low compensation for corrections officers and judges has created a crisis. “New Mexico has the lowest judicial compensation in the country," he told the Headlight. "Whenever there’s a vacancy coming up in the judiciary, getting applicants that are seasoned attorneys that have been in practice or a while is virtually impossible.” Smith also called attrition by corrections officers "unsustainable."
Two bills carried by Sweetser made it to the Governor's desk. House Bill 207 became law on March 1, creating a fund for broadband infrastructure for public, school, and tribal libraries in New Mexico, and giving libraries a boost in seeking federal grants.
Representing a city that is home to two award-winning wineries, the Deming lawmakers worked together on a bill allowing New Mexico wineries and brewers to sell their beverages at private events away from their places of business.
Another bill Sweetser sponsored, House Bill 200, would have created a tax incentive for employers filling high-wage jobs in the state, but did not pass the Senate.
More: State Representative Candie Sweetser's two House bills move on
Sweetser and Smith agreed that diversifying the state's economy so that it is cushioned from downturns in one industry requires study and consensus-building between legislative sessions. To this, Sweetser added that attrition from the state slows economic growth and concentrates the tax burden on a smaller population.
A new Governor will be elected before the next regular session, and whoever that is, Smith said, "The next administration is going to have to talk about a reliable revenue stream. When you’re 32 or 33 percent either indirectly or directly related to oil and gas, you’re leaving yourself extremely vulnerable.”
This story has been updated. A previous version of the story claimed that HB 200 had passed the Senate. It has also been updated regarding the status of HB 207.
More: Sweetser honors Deming teacher in NM legislature
Algernon D'Ammassa can be reached at 575-546-2611 (ext. 2608) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
DATE: Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Contact: Shaya Torres
Santa Fe – A bill to expand internet access in schools and libraries across the state was signed into law by the Governor. HB 207, introduced by Representative Candie Sweetser (D-Deming), would appropriate money from the general fund for broadband infrastructure in public school, tribal, and community libraries.
“Too many communities, particularly those in rural areas, understand the difficulty of accessing the internet from home. This bipartisan legislation invests in broadband infrastructure so that all New Mexicans can have access to the internet in their schools and libraries, which is critical for New Mexicans to be able to succeed,” said Rep. Candie Sweetser. “I am glad Governor Martinez shares this same vision for our state’s libraries and signed this legislation.”
This legislation was a true grassroots effort, with the idea first suggested by Deming High School librarian, Teresa Ortiz, who chairs a statewide subcommittee aimed at helping school, public, and tribal libraries attain better broadband access for students and community members.
In New Mexico, the digital divide has the potential to constrain economic development. HB 207 is a bipartisan effort to close the gap, sponsored by Reps. Candie Sweetser (D-Deming), Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-Los Alamos), and James E. Smith (R-Sandia Park) with help from Senator John Arthur Smith (D-Deming).
*story also on: www.demingradio.com
Headlight Staff Reports Published 4:04 p.m. MT Feb. 15, 2018 | Updated 4:09 p.m. MT Feb. 15, 2018Bill would improves internet access n schools, librariesSANTA FE, N.M. – A bill to expand internet access in schools and libraries across the state passed the Senate Floor and is headed to the Governor’s desk. HB 207, introduced by Candie G. Sweetser (D-Deming), would appropriate money from the general fund for broadband infrastructure in public school, tribal, and community libraries.
“Internet access connects our communities, from across the state to around the world. This bill will positively impact New Mexicans by providing them more opportunity for success. I’m so proud to have had bipartisan support on this important bill,” said Rep. Candie Sweetser.
In New Mexico, the digital divide has a negative impact on economic development. HB 207 is a bipartisan effort sponsored by Reps. Candie Sweetser (D-Deming), Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-Los Alamos), and James E. Smith (R-Sandia Park) with help from Senator John Arthur Smith, that will help close that gap.
DATE: Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Contact: Shaya Torres
Santa Fe, NM – The House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 200, introduced by Reps. Candie Sweetser (D-Deming) and Carl Trujillo (D-Santa Fe), that would encourage urban and rural businesses to create and fill new high-wage jobs in New Mexico. HB 200 will promote economic development across the state.
“Job creation and investments in our communities are needed to promote economic success, but over the past few years our rural communities have struggled. This bill aims to give rural communities the tools to increase economic stability for our families,” said Rep. Candie Sweetser.
“This bill benefits both rural and urban communities by promoting high-wage job creation and economic development. Improving our state’s workforce is key to a successful economy, and investing in our state so our children want to and can live here when they are grown is crucial,” said Rep. Carl Trujillo.
HB 200 now moves to the Senate for consideration.
DATE: Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Contact: Shaya Torres
Santa Fe – Today, a bill to expand internet access in schools and libraries across the state unanimously passed the House Appropriations and Finance Committee. HB 207, introduced by Candie G. Sweetser (D-Deming), would appropriate money from the general fund for broadband infrastructure in public school, tribal, and community libraries.
“From applying for jobs to researching school projects, internet access opens up opportunities for New Mexicans,” said Rep. Candie Sweetser. “I’m pleased this bill has bipartisan support and look forward to ensuring our kids and communities have the internet infrastructure to be successful.”
In New Mexico, the digital divide has a negative impact on economic development. HB 207 is a bipartisan effort sponsored by Reps. Candie Sweetser (D-Deming), Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-Los Alamos), and James E. Smith (R-Sandia Park) that will help close that gap. The bill now heads to the House Floor for consideration.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2018
Contact: Shaya Torres
Santa Fe, N.M. – Today, Rep. Candie Sweetser (D-Deming) honored Deming educator Melanie Maynes-Alfaro for receiving the Milken Educator Award.
“Today, I’m honored to congratulate a teacher from my district on receiving the Milken Educator Award. Melanie Maynes-Alfaro is a hometown hero and one of the state’s best teachers,” said Rep. Candie Sweetser (D-Deming).
The Milken Educator Award was created by the Milken Family Foundation, and is in its 30th year. The awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals, and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. The Milken award is hailed by Teachermagazine as the “Oscars of Teaching.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: Monday, January 22, 2018
Contact: Shaya Torres
House Speaker Invites Students to get hands-on experience at the New Mexico Legislature at Inaugural Speaker’s Table
Santa Fe, N.M. - Today, the Speaker of the House Brian Egolf hosted the inaugural Speaker’s Table, a program for students from across the state to visit the Roundhouse and learn about the legislative process through hands-on participation. Rep. Candie Sweetser (D-Deming) mentored the students, guiding them through committee preparation.
“It is always inspiring to work with young people who are engaged in their communities, but today’s Speaker’s Table showed that these young people are also involved and concerned about the future of our state and the many issues affecting it. They get it: the decisions we make now will impact them for years to come. I appreciate the perspective and fresh ideas brought forward by these students from across the state – and especially from Animas in my district – and look forward to working with these young people for years to come,” said Rep. Candie G. Sweetser (D-Deming).
Students participated in mock committee hearings, floor proceedings, and worked with their mentor Representatives to present testimony in front of an actual legislative committee.
Loren R. Cushman, Superintendent of Animas Public Schools, was glad students from Animas Public Schools could participate and stated, “Seeing the legislative process at work and having the opportunity to present at committee was a great experience! The students are already asking when they can come back.”