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Revised: When it rains, it might flood

I expect most of you Beat readers to be intelligent human beings who can think for yourselves. 

I get national weather service advisories and warning constantly all day long if there is the slightest bit of rain or if there's more. I'll post one or two to let you know of the dangers, but when each map shows a tiny portion of the county as being under a flood advisory or warning, I'm not going to continually post the warnings.

Plus, just to add insult, often those panicked advisories are soon cancelled. The government loves to scare you, but you know better.

You are smart. If it is raining where you are, as well as upstream of where you are, you know not to drive through flooded underpasses or low water crossings. You know that there might be debris in that water, or the flow of the water might be strong enough to carry a vehicle downstream, so you don't venture into it.

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Shedding Light on Opioid Settlement Funds: A Path to Transparency and Accountability

By New Mexico Auditor Joseph Maestas

More than a billion dollars from opioid lawsuit settlements are heading to New Mexico coffers, with some monies already hitting state and local government bank accounts. These funds represent a golden opportunity to mitigate the devastating impacts of the opioid epidemic—but making sure the money is spent the way it is intended is critical to ensuring that this opportunity and money aren't wasted.

Opioids have taken a heavy toll on our State, claiming the lives of hundreds, shattering families and exacting long-term economic and social damage on communities. Companies that manufactured, sold, or distributed opioid painkillers will now pay $1 billion in lawsuit settlements to help remediate the havoc wreaked by these narcotics.

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The 2023 Farm Bill: New Mexicans should ensure their voices are heard

Think about what New Mexico might look like without food production. What if we didn’t have New Mexico chile, open space or healthy crops? Food nutrition is a crucial part of our everyday life. As you drive around your local community, take a minute to notice how the food and agriculture sector is everywhere.

All New Mexico agriculture and the consumers who enjoy our state’s products are impacted by the 2023 Farm Bill being discussed by Congress, which is renewed every five years. The renewal provides an opportunity for producers and consumers to make decisions about commodities to grow, conservation practices to invest in and requirements to establish the nutrition programs that are important to so many people, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), through which 510,595,215 meals were provided to New Mexicans over the past 12 months as of June 15, 2023, according to the New Mexico Human Services Department.

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Kids Count Report a Wake-Up Call

By Paul J. Gessing

Once again New Mexico is at the very bottom of a list. Kids Count 2023 is compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation with distribution and media handled by New Mexico Voices for Children.

While it is not the report Rio Grande Foundation would compile, the 16 variables considered in it do highlight issues regarding the well-being of New Mexico children. Sadly, like so many similar reports, the results are not good for our state. What is unique is the positive spin being applied by Voices for Children.

As Voices for Children's Amber Wallin recently wrote in an opinion piece, "you shouldn't let the rankings get you down because they don't tell us how far we've come."

We politely disagree and believe that Voices would not have the same sanguine viewpoint if a Republican governor or Legislature were calling the shots.

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Don’t get too excited about those rebates!

By Paul J. Gessing

According to New Mexico’s Tax and Revenue Department rebate checks (or transfers to bank accounts) will be going out at any time during the middle of June. At the Rio Grande Foundation we welcome the $500 or $1,000 (depending on single/married filing status). This is especially true at a time when inflation is rising faster than wages.

But New Mexico is in the midst of an unprecedented boom in its oil and gas industry and, while those checks are nice, they are a pittance relative to the windfall being experienced in State government. Worse, unless the Legislature and Gov. take concrete action and soon to diversify the economy, New Mexico will waste this unique opportunity.

First the numbers: according to the Legislature’s analysts, the one-time “cost” of the rebates is $667 million. You may recall that the Legislature began the 2023 session with a surplus of $3.6 billion and spent $1.2 billion of that.

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Today is the 79th Anniversary of "D-Day"

79 years ago, on this date during World War II—June 6, 1944—American, British, and Canadian military forces combined to launch the largest amphibious invasion force ever assembled in world history.

Operation Overlord was the official codename for this Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Germany in Normandy, a region in the northwest corner of France about 185 miles across the English Channel from England. But the world has come to know this date as D-Day, the day the Allied forces took the battle directly to Germany—a little over four years after Germany invaded and then occupied France. The time had finally come to mount a major offensive to free France and drive the German occupiers out of the country.

The actual planned date was June 5. But bad weather made General Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, change the date to the following day.

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Convention of States New Mexico brought forward two pieces of legislation in the 2023 session

During the 2023 New Mexico Legislature, Convention of States New Mexico (COSNM) brought forward two pieces of legislation. Senate Joint Resolution #5 and House Joint Resolution #13 contained identical language calling for a convention of the states as provided for in Article V of the Constitution of the United States. SJR5 was referred to the Senate Rules Committee, where the committee's chairwoman, Katy Duhigg, openly declared her refusal to schedule the resolution for hearing. HJR13 was heard in the House Government, Elections, & Indian Affairs Committee, Chaired by Representative Wonda Johnson, where the resolution was tabled.

We will continue to bring this legislation forward until it is ultimately passed. Our determination is driven by the unsustainable level of federal spending & debt, the relentless growth of an over-reaching federal bureaucracy, and the professionalized "dug-in" character of all branches of federal government. This is corrosive to the well-being of all Americans, yet our self-dealing Congress offers no solutions. The remedial task falls to the states, hence the language written into Article V by the framers specific to the power of the states.

Attached, please find the text of HJR13, along with my February 18th testimony before the House Government, Elections, & Indian Affairs Committee. 

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Legislature's 529 Expansion a positive step for New Mexico

By Paul J. Gessing

The 2023 New Mexico legislative session was generally disappointing for New Mexicans who wish to see much-needed K-12 education reform. However, it was not a total loss. In fact, one bill did pass that could help thousands of New Mexico families pay for educational options that work best for them. Without a single "no" vote during the 2023 session, HB 342 will soon be the "law of the land."

The bipartisan bill was sponsored in the House by Republican Minority Leader Ryan Lane and by Democrat Majority Leader Peter Wirth in the Senate. It was signed into law by Gov. Lujan Grisham, also a Democrat. HB 342 aligns New Mexico law with federal law as updated during the Trump Administration and recent legislation under the Secure 2.0 Act.

Over the years Congress has expanded the use of 529 plans to pay for kindergarten through 12th grade tuition and included student loan repayment and apprenticeship program expenses. And in 2023, Congress added a provision to allow rollovers of unused 529 plan funds into a Roth IRA for the beneficiary.

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