Media Advisory: Senator Michael Padilla Hosts Enchanted Circle Telecommunications and Broadband Diversity Route Town Hall

***Media Advisory***

 

Contact: Isaac Padilla
Office: 505/986.4819
Mobile: 505/264.6512
Isaac.Padilla@nmlegis.gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Senator Michael Padilla Hosts Enchanted Circle Telecommunications and Broadband Diversity Route Town Hall

(Taos, NM) – Senator Majority Whip Michael Padilla (D-14-Bernalillo) will host a town hall to discuss the diversity route for the Enchanted Circle area. The diversity route will provide redundancy needed for the entire Enchanted Circle. If there is an unfortunate cut in a fiber line or technical problems, the area will now still have broadband service. The project was completed through a partnership between CenturyLink and Kit Carson Electric.

WHAT:             Telecommunications and Broadband Diversity Route Town Hall

WHEN:             Thursday, October 27 from 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

WHERE:           Taos City Hall Council Chambers, 120 Civic Plaza, Taos, NM

WHO:              Chairman of the Interim Science, Technology, and Telecommunications Committee of the New Mexico Legislature Michael Padilla

“The partnership between CenturyLink and Kit Carson to complete the telecommunications and broadband diversity route through the entire Enchanted Circle Region will ensure uninterrupted service to some of the most rural parts of New Mexico and is a great example for other regions of our state,” said Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla.  “This diversity route will help with economic development initiatives in the area, improved access to emergency health care services, and improve educational opportunities for the region.”

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MEDIA ADVISORY: Senator Padilla Chairs Legislative Committee to Discuss Future of Broadband in New Mexico

***Media Advisory***
WILL BE LIVE STREAMED

Contact: Isaac Padilla
Office: 505/986.4819
Mobile: 505/264.6512
Isaac.Padilla@nmlegis.gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Senator Padilla Chairs Legislative Committee to Discuss Future of Broadband in New Mexico

Meeting Agenda

(Santa Fe, NM) – Senator Majority Whip Michael Padilla (D-14-Bernalillo) will chair the Science, Technology and Telecommunications Committee. The meeting will focus on expanding broadband in New Mexico and increasing the speed of broadband systems to reach next generation standards.  Currently, 39% of rural Americans do not have access to speeds of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. In New Mexico, 61% of people in rural areas do not have access.

WHAT:             Science, Technology and Telecommunications Committee Meeting

WHEN:             October 20 and 21 starting at 9:00 a.m.

WHERE:           Room 317 at the State Capitol in Santa Fe

WHO:              Chair Michael Padilla and Members of the Committee

A live feed of the committee meeting can be found at the following link https://www.nmlegis.gov/Webcast/.

Legislative Committee to Discuss Future of Broadband in New Mexico

Contact: Isaac Padilla
Office: 505/986.4819
Mobile: 505/264.6512
Isaac.Padilla@nmlegis.gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Legislative Committee to Discuss Future of Broadband in New Mexico 

Meeting Agenda

Santa Fe-Senator Majority Whip Michael Padilla (D-14-Bernalillo) will chair the Science, Technology and Telecommunications Committee on October 20 and 21 in room 317 at the State Capitol in Santa Fe. The meeting will focus on expanding broadband in New Mexico and increasing the speed of broadband systems already in New Mexico.

“New Mexico’s broadband access and expansion strategies have a direct impact on our job creation and economic future” Sen. Padilla. “Improving our broadband infrastructure will improve education and New Mexico’s position to compete for high wage jobs.”

Members of the business community, representatives from Sandia and Los Alamos National Labs and education professionals will be discussing the current broadband infrastructure in our schools and in our communities. This will include the next generation standards and ideas to help develop a strategy to meet those standards.

“We have successfully worked with industry and the school district in Belen to increase the speed at all Belen schools to 1 gigabit per second,” said Sen. Padilla. “I encourage anyone who supports expanding access for their communities to attend the committee meeting.”

Facebook recently broke ground on a data center in Los Lunas New Mexico. New Mexico needs to improve access to broadband to rural areas to attract companies, like Facebook, that require access to high speed broadband.  Currently, 39% of rural Americans do not have access to speeds of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload according to the FCC. That number increase to 68% in rural tribal lands. In New Mexico, 61% of the population in rural areas does not have access to 25 Mbps.

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Letter to the Editor by Senator Soules: The Senate Understood the Budget Crisis was the Reason for the Special Session

Letter to the Editor by Senator Soules: The Senate Understood the Budget Crisis was the Reason for the Special Session

October 17, 2016

Letter Submitted by Senator Bill Soules (D-37- Doña Ana)

The most recent special session is the result of a budget crisis unlike anything before in New Mexico’s history.  There isn’t enough money in the treasury to cover the bills from 2016 that ended in June and the revenue forecasts for 2017 are well below the amount of money that was budgeted.  Unlike the Federal Government, we cannot print money and we cannot have a budget that spends more than it takes in.  The administration knew the budget wasn’t balanced in March and the extent of the problem became obvious in the following months.  Democratic legislators have been calling for a special session to “fix” the problems since this past May and June.

For several weeks Democrat and Republican leaders from the Senate Finance Committee worked to craft fixes to the state’s budget problems.  These leaders repeatedly asked the Governor and the House Republican leadership to join with them to come up with a budget balancing plan that would put New Mexico back on solid financial footing.  The response from the Governor and House Republicans was to reiterate their no tax increase pledge.  That isn’t a plan.  To be responsible the Senate had no choice but to move forward with a bipartisan plan to resolve our budget crisis and protect New Mexico’s credit rating.

Budget cuts are never easy.  The Senate Democrats met to discuss the difficult budget cuts.  Everyone understood that all programs would be up for discussion.  Everyone had to be open to compromise.

Special sessions are unlike regular sessions.  Bills are being drafted and changed on the fly.  Amendments are proposed and approved or discarded.  The process is very fluid with lots of trust being put in those who are in charge of negotiating these budget issues.  Unfortunately, it is a terrible way to make laws or balance a budget; there is less public participation, things get missed, overlooked, snuck in, or just poorly written.  It is why a special session should only deal with a very narrow set of issues, the budget crisis.

On the first day of the Special Session, the Senate passed a package of budget bills that responsibly address the current crisis in the state.  All but one of the bills was passed by the overwhelming majority of the Senate, Democrats and Republicans alike.  The Senate fulfilled its responsibility in a little over 12 hours by working in a bi-partisan manner for the good of the state.

The Republican led House was in session for seven days at a cost estimated at $50,000 a day, passed seven of the twelve Senate budget bills with four coming in the last 24 hours.  Rather than work on the budget crisis, the Governor and House Republicans saw an opportunity to use the budget crisis for political gain in the November election.  They chose to use the ugly and heinous crimes to children and police officers as a way to divert attention from the budget crisis toward emotional issues.

By adding the “death penalty” and other crime bills to the special session, the focus on fixing our constitutionally mandated requirement of balancing the budget shifted to debating emotional social issues without allowing for adequate public input.  But that was their intent all along. This is an election year and “tough-on-crime” bills can be used as a wedge issue for political advantage in the November election.  It is unfortunate that House Republicans decided that holding hearings on the crime bills, that can and should wait until January, was more important that dealing with the budget crisis.

The Senate reconvened to consider changes the House made to the budget bills and move the state forward in a responsible and thoughtful manner. The final four bills were passed in 30 minutes after the Senate concurred with House amendments. Hopefully, the Governor and House Republicans will abandon their “all politics all the time” strategy and work with the Senate to find the best solution if the fiscal climate in New Mexico continues to worsen and our economic crisis continues unresolved.

 

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Strongly Bipartisan Senate Fixes Budget Crisis For Now – Gov. Martinez Never Offered a Plan to Address $600 Million Shortfall

Contact: Isaac Padilla
Office: 505/986.4819
Mobile: 505/264.6512
Isaac.Padilla@nmlegis.gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Strongly Bipartisan Senate Fixes Budget Crisis For Now –
Gov. Martinez Never Offered a Plan to Address $600 Million Shortfall

(Santa Fe, NM) – New Mexico Senate Democrats today retuned to Santa Fe and swiftly passed a package of bipartisan legislative measures that balance the state’s budget, and created a small contingency reserve of funds.  The Senate’s blueprint, passed at the end of a seven-day special legislative session in the House, eliminates an estimated $600 million deficit.  It uses cuts to state agencies, unspent balance sweeps, and re-purposing of idle infrastructure project funds.  Some revenue adjustments, which were passed in the Senate, were rejected by the House Republican majority and Governor Susana Martinez, so they died.

“Thanks to the Senate’s strong bipartisan cooperation, we have ensured that revenues will match expenditures for the first time in nearly two years.  The people of New Mexico can now be confident that we will avoid a financial and a constitutional crisis that loomed only a short time ago.  I am very proud of both my Democratic and Republican colleagues in the Senate who came together in a spirit of cooperation to put our state above partisanship.  The Senate passed a responsible and effective package to address New Mexico’s serious $600 budget crisis,” said Senator John Arthur Smith of Deming, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

It took the House seven days to complete its final budget bill to fix the budget crisis; it took the bipartisan Senate just one day.  Senate Bill 9, which made difficult cuts to state agencies, for example, was passed by Democrats and Republicans in the Senate by a vote of 42 to 0.

On the important issue of higher education funding, the House Republican majority took action that guarantees tuition increases at our state universities. Senate Democrats tried to head that off.

Democratic Senators expressed strong concerns that the budget bills returned by the House to the Senate today removed important balance from the budget package, imposing only cuts, without any revenue measures passed by the Senate.  The House budget bills contribute no revenues to the overall budget solution, despite recent polls showing the voters overwhelmingly wanted legislators to take an approach balanced with both cuts and revenues.

Several Democratic Senators said after adjournment that they were still waiting to see the Governor’s budget plan.  She never offered one.

The Senate was prudent with taxpayer’s money by passing its package of solutions to the budget shortfall in just one day, and then adjourning.  It came back into session today to accept the House’s version of those budget bills.  The bills the House sent back to the Senate, after four days of fruitless debating and amending, contained relatively minor changes from the Senate-initiated budget-balancing measures.

The cost of the special session was $26,834 for the three days the Senate met.  The cost of the House was $90,000, which met for seven days.  Both costs include only the per diem for legislators and mileage, but no staff costs.

Throughout the special session, the House Republican majority and Gov. Martinez played politics with the budget bills, causing costly and unnecessary delays.

Additionally, for the most part, the legislative work of the Senate was done during hours of the day when the public could observe what was being done.  The House Republican majority, in contrast, did much of its work literally in the middle of the night, making it impossible for the public to see.

Senate Democrats vowed that in January during the regular 60-day legislative session, they would hold thorough and transparent discussions of the issues, including the budget.

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All Potential Revenue Streams should be on the Table: Increases in Number of Medical Marijuana Plants Generates $3 to $5 Million in GRT

Contact: Isaac Padilla
Office: 505/986.4819
Mobile: 505/264.6512
Isaac.Padilla@nmlegis.gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

All Potential Revenue Streams should be on the Table
Increases in Number of Medical Marijuana Plants Generates $3 to $5 Million in GRT

Santa Fe-Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino (D-12-Bernalillo), sponsor of No Medical Marijuana Plant Limits (SB3), expressed concern today that the measure will not be considered by the House of Representatives. SB3 increases the number of medical marijuana plants any one grower can have under cultivation at a time. The Senate passed SB3 by a wide margin with bi-partisan support on Friday.

The estimated increase in gross receipts tax (GRT) revenue from the sale of the additional plants is $3 to $5 million a year.  During Senate floor debate, Sen. Ortiz y Pino noted that the measure is consistent with the Governor’s Special Session Proclamation in which she asked legislators to find additional revenue for state government without increasing taxes.  Since GRT is already collected on the sale of medical marijuana products, SB3 does not create a new tax.  SB3 simply increases the production of a product that is already being taxed.

“In a year when we are looking for every available source of revenue or savings to balance the budget, I believe this small step could make a significant contribution to the budget picture,” said Sen. Ortiz y Pino. “Not only will it help this year, but it will help in subsequent years as the demand for medical marijuana and its derivatives increase.”

Testimony on the bill revealed that producers have to pay an annual fee of $200 per plant.  That money underwrites the cost of Department of Health (DOH) administration of the program.  Expanding or removing the cap would greatly increase revenue to run the medical cannabis program. However, the primary fiscal benefit to the state would be in the increase in GRT that SB3 would create.

Current state law does not limit the number of plants that can be grown by the state’s 35 licensed producers. DOH has set the limit at 450 total plants including seedlings, immature plants, and those capable of being harvested.  According to producers, it takes more than four months for a plant to reach maturity.

To prevent a small number of the licensed producers from cornering the market of medical cannabis, the bill was amended to limit the number of plants any single producer can have under cultivation at any one time. A license holder’s production capacity cannot exceed 15% of the number of approved card holders at the time the producer applies for the expanded license.

During hearings of the Legislative Health and Human Services interim Committee, many patients enrolled in the program stated that the recent expansion in supply was not adequate to support current demand.  There are over 30,000 New Mexicans authorized to purchase medical cannabis as of July 1. SB3 would eliminate the supply shortage caused by the program’s current structure.

“The artificially low caps that are imposed by DOH have forced many patients who are unable to secure their medicine from licensed providers to attempt to grow their own medicine or even to purchase the plant product from illegal sources,” said Sen. Ortiz y Pino.  “There is no good policy reason to restrict the producers in this fashion.”

Sen. Ortiz y Pino is requesting that the House of Representatives treat the measure fairly as one of the multiple serious solutions for New Mexico’s budget shortfall.  He believes that Governor Martinez would sign this bill if it reaches her desk since it reduces state debt, increases the supply of medical cannabis for legally-authorized purchasers, and creates a fairer situation for all producers.  It would also eliminate the possibility of a lawsuit associated with the State’s inability to provide an adequate supply for authorized users.   He urges medical cannabis patients interested in seeing this expansion of the supply to contact their Representative in the House, House Speaker Don Tripp, and House Majority Leader Nate Gentry.

 

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NM House Republicans Ignore Budget Crisis on Day 1 of Special Session

NM Senate Democrats

PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Isaac Padilla 505/264-6512

September 30, 2016

House Republicans Ignore Budget Crisis on Day 1 of Special Session

Putting New Mexico Families & Children in Jeopardy

(Santa Fe, NM) – Despite New Mexico facing a $600 million budget crisis so severe that it required Governor Susana Martinez to call an emergency meeting of the Legislature, the House Republican majority today failed to introduce even one bill addressing this fiscal year’s shortfall.  The state will soon run out of money if lawmakers do not fix the problem, and the ostensible purpose of the $54,000 per day special session is to deal with that fact.   Nonetheless, the Governor and her House Republican allies have decided to focus on purely political moves to reinstate the death penalty and other divisive matters that distract from the work at hand.

“It is irresponsible that Gov. Martinez and House Republican legislators are now pushing highly controversial crime policies instead of dealing with our massive budget deficit.  The people of our state need us to fix the state’s serious money problems before addressing any other issues, especially with the regular legislative session only three short months away.  Now is not the time to add further debt and stress to an already struggling judicial system,” said Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla.

The whole point of the Governor calling a special session appears to be for the purpose of empowering Republican PACs to broadcast TV and radio ads, and direct mail attacking Democrats running for Legislature in November.

The Governor is pushing reinstatement of the death penalty in the brief special legislative session, even though she has barely mentioned the policy in six years in office.  As the District Attorney prosecutor in Dona Ana County for many years, Martinez never once sought the death penalty in a murder case, even though several were eligible.

“If the goal is lessening crime in New Mexico, then we should be talking about more staff and resources for mental health services, law enforcement, childcare, our judicial system, and child protective services that prevent future tragedies.   One of the most important things we can do to protect kids is solve this budget crisis now, to make sure that we fund police, CYFD child protection and our courts. That is why we hurried to Santa Fe with only 24-hour notice given by the Governor.  It is cynical, it makes no sense, and is an improper use of taxpayer dollars to consider any issues besides the budget crisis our state is facing,” added Senator John Arthur Smith.

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House Republicans Ignore Budget Crisis on Day 1 of Special Session Putting New Mexico Families & Children in Jeopardy

Contact: Isaac Padilla
Office: 505/986.4263
Mobile: 505/264.6512
Isaac.Padilla@nmlegis.gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

House Republicans Ignore Budget Crisis on Day 1 of Special Session

Putting New Mexico Families & Children in Jeopardy 

(Santa Fe, NM) – Despite New Mexico facing a $600 million budget crisis so severe that it required Governor Susana Martinez to call an emergency meeting of the Legislature, the House Republican majority today failed to introduce even one bill addressing this fiscal year’s shortfall.  The state will soon run out of money if lawmakers do not fix the problem, and the ostensible purpose of the $54,000 per day special session is to deal with that fact.   Nonetheless, the Governor and her House Republican allies have decided to focus on purely political moves to reinstate the death penalty and other divisive matters that distract from the work at hand.

“It is irresponsible that Gov. Martinez and House Republican legislators are now pushing highly controversial crime policies instead of dealing with our massive budget deficit.  The people of our state need us to fix the state’s serious money problems before addressing any other issues, especially with the regular legislative session only three short months away.  Now is not the time to add further debt and stress to an already struggling judicial system,” said Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla.

The whole point of the Governor calling a special session appears to be for the purpose of empowering Republican PACs to broadcast TV and radio ads, and direct mail attacking Democrats running for Legislature in November.

The Governor is pushing reinstatement of the death penalty in the brief special legislative session, even though she has barely mentioned the policy in six years in office.  As the District Attorney prosecutor in Dona Ana County for many years, Martinez never once sought the death penalty in a murder case, even though several were eligible.

“If the goal is lessening crime in New Mexico, then we should be talking about more staff and resources for mental health services, law enforcement, childcare, our judicial system, and child protective services that prevent future tragedies.   One of the most important things we can do to protect kids is solve this budget crisis now, to make sure that we fund police, CYFD child protection and our courts. That is why we hurried to Santa Fe with only 24-hour notice given by the Governor.  It is cynical, it makes no sense, and is an improper use of taxpayer dollars to consider any issues besides the budget crisis our state is facing,” added Senator John Arthur Smith.

 

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Statement by Senate Democrats in Response to Gov. Martinez Announcement That She Will Add Reinstatement of the Death Penalty to the Upcoming Special Session:

Contact: Isaac Padilla
Office: 505/986.4819
Mobile: 505/264.6512
Isaac.Padilla@nmlegis.gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Senate Democrats issue the following statement in response to Governor Martinez’s announcement that she will add reeinstatement of the death penalty to the upcoming special session:

Santa Fe-“Adding the reeinstatment of the death penalty is an irresponsible distraction to the dire economic situation the state is facing. As elected officials, it is our duty to focus on the budget as our first priority. Senate Democrats are committed to working in a bi-partisan manner to resolve this crisis and avoid cutting critical services to the public. We want to prevent the furloughing of law enforcement officers, classroom teachers, nurses, correctional officers, and other vital state employees. The regular session is three months away and that is the appropriate time to debate other issues.”

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Broadband Expansion at Belen Consolidated School District

Contact: Isaac Padilla
Office: 505/986.4819
Mobile: 505/264.6512
Isaac.Padilla@nmlegis.gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Broadband Expansion at Belen Consolidated School District

Santa Fe- Today, September 20th at 1:30 PM at Infinity High School, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez (D-29- Bernalillo and Valencia), Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla (D-14-Bernalillo), CEO of Plateau Telecommunications Tom Phelps, and the Executive Director of the New Mexico Exchange Carrier Group Charles Ferrell announced that broadband speed at all schools within the Belen Consolidated School District have been increased to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) via the Plateau fiber optic network.

“A quality education opens doors for children, and in today’s America, access to broadband opens those doors even wider,” said Sen. Sanchez. “We know that the digital divide impedes access to the internet for children in rural areas, and this broadband expansion will help close that divide for children attending Belen’s public schools.”

“Improving and expanding educational opportunity for all New Mexico’s students is vital for economic growth,” said Sen. Padilla. “Increased access to broadband in Belen will improve education and give the children of Belen the tools needed for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Tom Phelps currently serves as CEO of Plateau Telecommunications, Incorporated, headquartered in Clovis. Plateau Telecommunications has fiber in Belen, making it possible to provide broadband at 1 Gbps to the schools in that district. Tom Phelps stated, “Plateau Telecommunications is excited and pleased to be part of expanding educational possibilities in Belen, and we would like to thank Senator Sanchez and Senator Padilla for recognizing the importance of high speed broadband service to New Mexico.”

Charles Ferrell is the current Executive Director of the New Mexico Exchange Carrier Group (NMECG). The NMECG is an industry association that represents 13 rural New Mexico Telephone Companies. “Large communication companies often overlook rural New Mexico, and our small companies have been instrumental in delivering quality services to these areas. We are working hard to close the digital divide and are proud of our efforts in conjunction with Senator Sanchez and Senator Padilla to further this endeavor,” said Charles Ferrell.

The average broadband speed in the United States is 18.2 megabits per second (Mbps). At 20 Mbps, it takes 45 minutes to download a 2 hour HD movie. At 1 Gbps via the Plateau fiber optic network, that same movie will download in 7 seconds.

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