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New Mexico’s 54th Legislature Comes To A Close…

first_imgBy JENS GOULDThe New MexicanNew Mexico’s 54th Legislature wrapped up Thursday amid congratulatory hugs and news conferences — a veneer of good cheer that masked a dose of sleep deprivation, early-morning procedural bickering, and finally, sighs of relief as key bills were passed just hours before the final gavel.Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Democratic legislators touted the passage of a number of their priority proposals, including the creation of an early childhood trust fund, passing a high-profile firearms bill and shepherding through the state’s $7.6 billion budget for the 2021 fiscal year.“I think this was a really productive 30-day session,” Lujan Grisham said, surrounded by legislators and cabinet secretaries at a post-session news conference in the Roundhouse. “We are building something new together. We’re investing for tomorrow and we’re delivering today.”The governor won passage for the majority of bills she asked legislators to undertake — 80 percent of them, by her own count. Her list of successes also included a measure aimed at shoring up the state’s pension system, a package of crime-related measures, a fund to help seniors and a plan to import cheaper prescription medication from Canada.“I think we’re in a place we’re all proud of,” House Speaker Brian Egolf told reporters on the floor after the session ended. “The old attitude in New Mexico that we are a poor state, that we can’t have great achievements, that we can’t do great things — those days are over.”After several days of wrangling, the final budget landed nearly exactly between the executive and legislative branches’ recommended increases of 8.4 and 6.5 percent, respectively, and gave both much of what they asked for. More than $700 million in one-time capital outlay funding also was approved, the majority coming in a $528 million bill largely backed by state severance tax revenue.“Something that doesn’t get talked about enough in politics these days — compromise,” said Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe. “That’s what got us across the line with a responsible budget and that is the result of hours in the trenches to get it done.”All bills passed by the Legislature still need to be signed by Lujan Grisham in order to become law.But there were big-ticket items that stalled along the way, most notably Lujan Grisham’s bid to legalize recreational marijuana and an attempt to restructure the Public Regulation Commission. Other high-profile initiatives were pared back, such as the governor’s Opportunity Scholarship, which was only allocated around half of the $35 million the administration originally asked for.Lujan Grisham praised the cannabis debate for “building a foundation” and said she expected to push for legalization again in the future.“New Mexicans and this incredible body should expect us to bring that again,” she said. “I don’t see any of that as a failure.”Many lower-profile bills also crossed the finish line, including legislation prohibiting workplace discrimination related to pregnancy; raising the age of tobacco use in New Mexico to 21; allowing law enforcement to apprehend traffickers of endangered wildlife; preventing out-of-state residents from obtaining medical marijuana licenses in the state.Other successful economic- and finance-related bills included an initiative to help McKinley County deal with the closure of the coal-fired Escalante Generating Station near Grants, and another that will transfer money from the state’s enormous Tax Stabilization Reserve fund into its operating reserve.Not surprisingly, perhaps, House Republicans were largely unhappy with the results of the session, again blasting Democrats for spending too much and criticizing the controversial “extreme risk protection order” gun bill, which would allow law enforcement to take away firearms from people considered dangerous. “This was a session of different value systems, different priorities and missed opportunities,” Minority Whip Rod Montoya, R-Farmington, said in a separate news conference Thursday. “Regular New Mexicans lost out.”While the list of approved bills is long — for 94 bills and resolutions on the Legislature’s website as of Thursday evening — the road to get there was bumpy.For one, the budget process was marked by a standoff between the two houses’ respective finance chiefs, though they’re both Democrats. Senate Finance  Committee chairman John Arthur Smith said a week ago he was “annoyed” at a House budget he said lacked financial discipline, while Egolf later countered the Senate conducted its fiscal process in “complete and total secrecy.”Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup and chairwoman of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, conceded after the session the Senate enacted “good amendments” that made the budget a “better document”. Yet she also said the rhetoric between the two sides was stronger than in the past.“HAFC will not be the little sister to Senate Finance,” Lundstrom said, referring to her committee. “We’re not subservient to one another.”The Smith-Lundstrom tension was tame compared to the fireworks between Republicans and Democrats on the floor.Republicans, minorities in both chambers, employed numerous strategies in a bid to derail the Democratic agenda, from three-hour delays on non-contentious bills in the House to rambling filibusters in the Senate.The quarreling intensified as the session entered its home stretch, with Egolf claiming the GOP was trying to “gum up the works” and Republicans countering that the Santa Fe Democrat was a “bully”.Things really came unglued in the final 24 hours, with Legislative Council Service Director Raúl Burciaga being called on multiple times to resolve impasses over procedural disputes.Wednesday night, Minority Leader Jim Townsend and Democratic Rep. Daymon Ely got into an argument over whether parliamentary procedure was properly followed.Around midnight, after the House voted to concur with the Senate’s budget changes, Republican leadership came charging onto the floor, accusing Egolf of calling a vote while knowing “damn well” GOP leaders were in the other room.“The entire session you have done this. You can’t keep your word for five minutes,” Montoya shouted at Egolf from the floor, referencing an unspecified agreement the two parties made. “We were talking about working this out. Instead this is the route you decide to go.”Egolf then agreed to hold a new debate and vote on the budget bill so those Republicans could participate. That was held more than an hour later, after the body took up other bills.The House ended up passing the bill for a second time around 1:15 a.m., after only several minutes of debate. Shortly after the budget debacle, senators meeting on the other side of the Roundhouse commented on the “dysfunction” in the House, as Sen. John Sapien put it.“From time to time, I’ll go over there and just watch the circus,” Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, said.However, partisan antics would soon ensue on the Senate side Thursday morning, as Sen. William Sharer embarked on a filibuster to prevent the chamber from returning to an elections bill Republicans opposed. When Democrats tried to cut Sharer off as the noon deadline drew closer, Republicans cried foul.“This will be something that every member of this floor will regret,” Minority Leader Stuart Ingle said. “This Senate will be in a very abysmal place.”Wirth yielded to the criticism and responded by giving the floor back to Sharer. The elections bill was never brought back.Egolf said later Thursday he did the best he could to accommodate Republican members during the budget situation.“Everyone felt good about that decision so we were all in the room,” Egolf said about the second vote. “It was a budget so nice we concurred on it twice.”last_img read more

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‘I Want To Help, But I Don’t Know How’

first_imgHello! I am Vincent Pica. If you’ve read this column, you may know I’ve been at this for nearly 14 years, writing about seamanship, safety, and service.I am a commodore in the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, the volunteer arm of the United States Coast Guard forces. I started shortly after September 11 and because of terrorist attacks on 9/11. As the world continues to get more and more dangerous, and the foes, both domestic and foreign, get more aggressive and bolder, I thought others may want to serve their country, their community, and the Coast Guard — on their own terms. Many people have an urge or calling to serve. They think about ways that they can contribute, especially if they can have fun doing it and are recognized for whatever they put in to it.The USCGA was created by an act of Congress back in 1939 when threatening storm clouds of national concern were looming on the horizon. Today, more than 25,000 American patriots are volunteer members of the USCGA performing virtually every mission of the regular Coast Guard, except what involves law enforcement and military action. If it doesn’t need a weapon, you’ll find those willing to do it.In 1939, there were concerns for the future security of America, and volunteers contributed to the protection of our waters and our way of life through homeland security. In addition, members undertake a great many missions that fall under the domain of the USCG, but which do not have such a high national impact, thereby freeing active-duty members to concentrate on them.Auxiliary missions have historically included teaching boating safety to the public, performing vessel examinations, and undertaking operational patrols of our waterways. Today, there are a great many additional missions that are added to that list including aviation, cooking, radio watch standing, translation services, and public affairs.Membership is open to all individuals who are American citizens, are 17 or older (with no max-out), have no prior felony convictions, and are willing and able to volunteer to serve their community and country.You need not own or be a maven with a boat; in fact, you can be a great contributor without ever being on the water. The Auxiliary will provide free training in a great many subject matters. You are welcome to participate in any of the missions that interest you, to the levels and timings of participation that suit your personal abilities and schedule.Some worry about it being expensive. Annual dues are $65, about $5 per month. Uniforms are available at a low cost, and every penny is tax-deductible. If you offer your boat for use by the USCGA, your mission-related fuel use is reimbursed 100 percent. Some worry that you will need to commit a tremendous amount of time. Not true. Give us 12 hours a summer in crew time and you will be in good standing. I warn you though, there is so much enjoyment and satisfaction in this role that you will give well more than that. This will only be the land of the free if it is also the home of the brave. Serve your nation. Serve your neighbors. On your terms. Be brave, and get in this thing. Email me at JoinUSCGAux@aol.com. Sharelast_img read more

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MOCON merges with Baseline-MOCON

first_imgGet instant access to must-read content today!To access hundreds of features, subscribe today! At a time when the world is forced to go digital more than ever before just to stay connected, discover the in-depth content our subscribers receive every month by subscribing to gasworld.Don’t just stay connected, stay at the forefront – join gasworld and become a subscriber to access all of our must-read content online from just $270. Subscribelast_img

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A serious fee?

first_img Timothy Foster, Foster Harrington, Camberley I wonder whether I am in the majority in disagreeing with the findings of the report on referral fees prepared for the Legal Services Board (see [2010] Gazette, 20 May, 1). According to the study, the average conveyancing fee when a referral fee is paid is £543, and the average referral fee is £330 – making a net conveyancing fee for the solicitor of £213. Are we really supposed to treat that fee seriously?last_img

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Industrialised housing’s hour has come

first_imgSubscribe now for unlimited access To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our communitylast_img read more

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The last word in adjudication

first_imgTo continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community Subscribe now for unlimited access Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletterslast_img read more

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Thome names ceo

first_imgHe has worked with DNV GL for many years in different locations around the world, culminating in his most recent role as executive vice president of its Classification Division.Olav Eek Thorstensen will step aside as ceo but continue as Thome Group executive chairman, while Claes Eek Thorstensen will continue as Thome Group president.Olav Magnus Nortunwww.thome.com.sglast_img

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Albright start in Boston

first_imgIBA 2013 was opened by former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright. ‘At its best, the legal profession operates as a needle and thread holding society together,’ Albright told 6,000 legal professionals gathered in Boston, Massachusetts.last_img

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NAH profits up £1m despite referral fee ban

first_imgProfits at newly listed claims management company National Accident Helpline (NAH) grew by more than £1m last year – despite the banning of referral fees.Accounts filed with Companies House show the company posted an operating profit of £20.22m in the year ending 31 December, compared with £19.18m the previous year.The selling of personal injury claims to law firms – a key component of NAH’s business plan – was banned by the government in April 2013.Profits also increased despite turnover falling marginally from £50.8m to £49.1m in 2013.The Gazette revealed in March that NAH had cut its panel of law firms from more than 100 to just 47 since the referral fee ban.The company’s accounts also show a major reduction in staff numbers during 2013, with the number of full-time employees dropping from 187 to 115. This reduced staff costs from £5.5m in 2012 to £4.2m by the end of last year.The accounts show the company received a dividend of £562,947 from its 100% owned subsidiary Lawyers Agency Services Limited. The company also paid dividends totaling £29m to its immediate parent undertaking NAH Group Limited.The directors’ strategic report said they were ‘satisfied’ with the performance. They considered the company faces no significant business or other risks and uncertainties over the short term, and they remained ‘very positive about the company’s short- and longer-term prospects’.As well as turnover related to income from solicitors, the company also receives commission income relating to the sale of legal expense insurance policies by panel firms.Since the end of the financial reporting period, NAH Group has been listed on the AIM London stock market. The company was admitted on 29 May and the share price is currently 200.5p.last_img read more

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Ex-Linklaters employee barred after £86,000 fraud

first_imgA former Linklaters employee has been barred from the legal profession after he was jailed for misappropriating £86,000 from the magic circle firm.Raza Kanval, a former paralegal in the London office of the magic circle firm, was jailed for 12 months last September after he was convicted of fraud by abuse of position, according to a Solicitors Regulation Authority notice published this week.According to reports at the time he stole £86,000 by fraudulently photocopying signed invoices so that a friend’s company was paid twice for work done for Linklaters.Kanval was dismissed on 30 May 2012 and Linklaters now regards the matter as closed. The firm declined to make any further comment.Due to his criminal conviction, the SRA said it would be ‘undesirable’ for him to work in the legal profession. He may not be employed in any solicitor’s practice or by any solicitor without the regulator’s permission.last_img read more

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