Sunday, February 22, 2009

Week Five at the Capitol

An Outpouring of Sympathy

On Wednesday, February 18, the Legislature paused briefly so most Senators and House members could journey to Roswell for the memorial service for Patty Jennings, the late wife of Senate president Pro Tem Tim Jennings of Roswell. The service was one of the largest I have ever attended and a large contingency of elected officials, including the Governor and Lt. Governor were there as well. The Jennings family has contributed greatly to this State. Everything I have heard confirmed what a dedicated public servant Patty Jennings was in her own right. Please keep the Jennings family in your prayers.

The Budget Battle

As I said last time, the revenue figures are looking very grim. The years of growing state government by almost 10% a year have come back to haunt us. This last week there was a lot of intense behind-the-scene discussion. A budget for FY2010 is being crafted, but my Republican colleagues are not happy with what they see. The proposed budget fails to recognize that state revenue is declining; therefore, state spending must also decline. It appears the administration will use the federal stimulus package to prop up the reckless spending behavior of the past. In 2003, when the Richardson/Denish Administration took office, the total State budget was $3.9 Billion. This year it is almost $6 Billion. The longer we put off dealing with over-spending, the worse it gets. As I was told once, problems are not like fine wines…they do not get better with time.

This will come to full scale floor debate on Wednesday or Thursday of this week.

Legislation Introduced

I have now submitted a total of seven bills. They are as follows:

HB 452 Budget Transparency Act
HB 648 Judicial Retirement from General Fund
HB 725 Repeal Film Production Tax Credit
HB 797 Ineffective Lawyer Penalties
HB 856 Controlled Substances in Newborn Babies
HB 857 Appeals from Magistrate to District Court
HB 858 Disbursements of Class Action Suit Funds

If you go online to and locate the box to the left, you will have a choice listed as "Legislation." Click on that, and go to "Bill Finder". You can then read any bill introduced by me or any other legislator.

The Film Production Tax Credit

There has been considerable media in the New Mexico media on HB 725, my effort to repeal the Film Production Tax Credit. This corporate welfare program cost New Mexico taxpayers $47 Million in FY2008. A study by the NMSU Office of Policy Analysis shows the "benefit" to taxpayers is about 15 cents on every dollar spent. Eliminating this program would save us $54 Million in FY2010. That is ten percent of the estimated budget shortfall. On Friday, I was interviewed about this by a reporter with the Santa Fe New Mexican. The article is here:

Keep in Touch!

It is important that I hear from you about legislation, both good and bad. Input from firefighters around our area equipped me to work with other legislators against a bad bill that would drain dollars out of the "Fire Protection Fund." We were outnumbered, but it is hoped that it will be stopped in the Appropriations Committee.

Local input is critical and needed in order for good legislation to pass and for bad legislation to be killed. Soplease feel free to express your opinion, I personally read every e-mail and letter from constituents. Remember, I'm here working for you!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fourth Week in Santa Fe

Sad News

Last time I wrote that Rep. Gloria Vaughan’s (R-Otero) husband was very ill. Jim Vaughan passed away last weekend. They were married for 44 years. Rep. Vaughan has returned to the legislature and resumed her duties. The outpouring of sympathy and concern has been very inspiring. Rep. Vaughan and I share an office, and I have seen her moved to tears by the kindness shown her.

As most of you know the wife of Senator Tim Jennings (D-Chaves), Patty Jennings, passed away Saturday morning. I never met Patty Jennings, but I have heard many great things about her.

This is the third death of a legislator’s spouse this session. Rep. Mary Helen Garcia (D-Dona Anna) lost her husband just before the session started.

Carol and I ask that you join us in keeping these families in prayer.

The Death Penalty Debate

On Wednesday afternoon we had an extremely intense debate involving a number of legislators. I fully support the Death Penalty as an appropriate punishment. I spoke at length on this issue. I was surprised to discover my comments were the focus of an article in the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper. The article is here (I would have preferred the word passionate instead of emotional):

The final vote was 40-28 in favor of Repeal (or Abolishment) of the Death Penalty and it was pretty much along party lines. I knew the numbers were against us from the beginning, but I gave it my best effort. I was honored to be told by a Representative who voted the other way that I had made “the decision harder.”

Budget Situation

Friday, February 13th (note Friday the 13th), new budget projections came out for FY2010. FY2010 starts July 1, 2009 and runs to June 30, 2010. The numbers are not good. I got to sit down with Mr. David Abbey, Director of the Legislative Finance Committee and his Chief Economist, Mr. Norton Francis for a personal briefing on the situation.

The total revenue collected for FY2008 (July 1, 2007 – June 30, 2008) was $6.062 Billion (that’s with a “B”). In December 2008 it was estimated that the revenue for the current year (FY2009) would be less and the projection for FY2010 was $5.733 Billion. Now FY2010 is even lower. The new figure for FY2010 is down to $5.488 Billion, $574 Million less than we had in FY2008.

Over the past six years this administration has been constantly increasing spending. Now New Mexico will have around 10% less money than last year. The citizens will have to deal with some painful cuts because of this reckless spending. It now seems very likely we will have NO capital outlay in FY2010. We don’t know when we will get out of this, but we must tighten our belts.


On Wednesday I introduced HB 725 which would repeal the film industry tax rebate. Right now, an expenditure in New Mexico by a movie company qualifies for a 25% rebate from the State. In other words, if a movie outfit spends $100 in New Mexico, they get $25 from the taxpayers of this state. A study by NMSU economists concluded that the state gets a return of about 15 cents for each taxpayer dollar spent. Not a good investment.

No other business or industry gets treated like this. No restaurant, no tire store, no dairy, no farm, no retail outlet, no oil field service outfit, no one. In FY2008 this rebate cost New Mexico $47 Million. I was uncomfortable with this was last year when times were good. Now it is indefensible. We cannot ask New Mexico citizens to accept cut backs in services and at the same time give millions to Hollywood movie moguls.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Week Three in the State Capital

We have wrapped up our third week here in the State Capital. Things had seemed to have settled into a bit of a routine until Friday afternoon when the House Judiciary Committee, which I am on, had a hearing on a bill to Repeal the Death Penalty. Before I get into that, I want to share a few other highlights.


Monday and Tuesday the current class of Leadership Roswell was in Santa Fe. Leadership Roswell is a great program, and I strongly urge anyone living in the Roswell area to consider applying for next year’s class. On Tuesday afternoon I got to speak to Leadership Roswell about my journey about being a member of the class eight years earlier to being a member of the State Legislature today.

Thursday was Ruidoso Day in Santa Fe, and I got to visit with many friends from the Ruidoso area that evening. I did not get to spend much time with the folks from Ruidoso because of my committee schedule.

Friday morning we learned that Representative Gloria Vaughn’s husband was very ill, and she had been taken back home by the State Police Thursday night. Gloria and I share an office, and for those of you who do not know her, she is a very gracious and sweet lady. Please keep her and her family in your prayers.


As many of you have heard, the Senate Judiciary Committee had a vote on SB12, the Domestic Partnership Bill. It was a tie vote with one Senator absent. This matter could still come up again, but I have been told that the House will not have hearings on HB 21 unless or until SB 12 passes the Senate.

While social issues rightly have much, if not all, of the attention of the media and concerned citizens, the budget quietly looms over everything. On Tuesday the Capital Outlay Subcommittees stopped meeting. A “Solvency Bill” was passed to (supposedly) deal with FY 2009 (the current year) problems. I believe (as do many others) that years of reckless spending have placed us in this position. Our current problem has been “fixed” by cutting out some Capital Outlay (pork) and now we move on to address FY 2010. That shortfall has been reported to be $464 million, however, we are all awaiting new revenue projections due out Friday, February 13th. The word around the Roundhouse is that it will be bad news with the FY2010 shortfall much larger and the “solvency bill” needing to redone.



We meet on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays starting at 8AM. The Chairperson is Representative Mimi Stewart (D-21). I will not attempt to summarize the numerous bills over three days, but a few of them stick out.

On Tuesday we heard HB228 which deals with nurse advice lines for health insurance companies. All health insurance companies have toll-free numbers customers can call for health advice or information. These call centers are manned by nurses and different insurance companies have them in different places. Multi-state insurance companies will consolidate their call centers in one location. This bill would have required the call centers to be located in New Mexico. The problem is there is only one nurse help line currently functioning in the State of New Mexico. It is called NurseAdvice New Mexico. As a result of this bill, all insurance companies would have had to contract with NurseAdvice. Needless to say, this caused a lot of concern on my part and other individuals on the committee. It eliminates competition. This bill was tabled (I seconded the motion to table), and I expect it will not come back up again this session.

Another bill was HB296 which would increase the population threshold to require the establishment of a Metro Court from 200,000 to 350,000. This bill was presented because some individuals in Dona Ana County do not want the county to convert to the Metro Court arrangement currently in place in Albuquerque. This bill also was tabled.

Finally let me mention HB295 which established a commission to encourage relationships between the State of New Mexico and the Mexican State of Sonora. This commission would include the governor, several cabinet secretaries, and nine public members. While there are no salaries for the public members, there are per diem costs associated with this commission. I could not support this bill because there are only twelve miles of common border between New Mexico and Sonora, and there are no ports of entry directly connecting the two states. In these tight economic times, this just seemed frivolous. I was the only one in opposition.


This meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons and is chaired by Representative Al Park (D-26). Representative Bill Rehm (R-31) presented HB28 which dealt with intimidation of criminal justice officials. Some of the Democrats on the committee were concerned about the scope of the bill, and Bill has been working with some committee members to get it resolved. I am hopeful that this bill will pass on Monday.

Most of the criminal justice bills have been fairly narrow in focus and not very controversial. On Wednesday, we had a joint meeting with the Senate Judiciary Committee that lasted about an hour and a half. The joint meeting was to hear a report from the Governor’s Commission on Prison Reform. This Commission had been meeting for over a year, and is comprised of twenty-one members. Much of the presentation was positive and informative, but I was concerned about the fact that the Commission was led by a former public defender, and had an additional public defender, a former inmate, and two prisoner advocates among its members. There were no victims’ advocates on this Commission.

Friday afternoon there were a number of bills presented in the Judiciary Committee. There was little controversy until we got to the one bill that we all knew would consume our energy and emotions.


Finally the Committee heard HB285 presented by Representative Gail Chasey which repeals the death penalty in the State of New Mexico. Currently the death penalty can only be sought in one of seven situations: if the victim is a police officer, a corrections officer, a prisoner, or a witness to a crime, or if the murder occurs in connection with a rape or kidnapping, or during an escape attempt. Also if it is a “murder for hire,” the death penalty is allowed. The committee room was the fullest I have ever seen it so far. The audience was overwhelmingly in support of repealing the death penalty. There were only two individuals in support of continuing the death penalty, and they were both district attorneys that I have gotten to know recently.

I was the third representative to speak, and I consumed the majority of the afternoon asking questions from Representative Chasey and her witnesses. I truly do not know how long this exchange lasted, somewhere between one and two hours, but I could not and did not keep track of the time. It would be impossible for me and boring for you if I tried to recap the entire presentation.

We finally got out around six o’clock, and the bill passed the committee. The four Republicans present, Representatives Bandy, Cook, Rehm, and myself all voted against the bill. Representative Vaughn was excused to be with her husband, and we were joined by Democrat Representative Cervantes. Truthfully I felt exhausted Friday night as if I had been in a titanic conflict with unseen forces. This was a struggle of emotion and deeply held convictions. I doubt if any minds were changed, but I could not (and will not) shrink from these types of battles.

Saturday morning, I checked my “ email” and found the following, humbling, note:

Dear Representative Kintigh:

I want to express my admiration to you for the questions you asked at this afternoon's hearing on the bill to repeal the death penalty. It was obvious that you had devoted considerable thought and research to the issue.

You hold very different opinions on the death penalty than I. I very strongly believe that the taking of a life ~ by an individual or governmental agency ~ is morally wrong. None-the-less, I respect your presentation and the points you expressed.

Thank you for the dedication you have shown to your elected position.


xxxxx xxxxxxx
Santa Fe

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Second Week at the Round House

We have finished our first complete week of the sixty day session of the 49th Legislature of the State of New Mexico. Once again I’d like to say how very honored I am to have been chosen to be the representative of District 57.

We have settled into a routine that will be probably relatively stable. I have been assigned to the judiciary committee and to the health and government affairs committee. The Judiciary Committee meets in the afternoon on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. The Health and Government Affairs Committee meets at 8AM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Both of these committees meet in Room 309 in the Round House. We have meetings of the House of Representatives everyday. At this point they begin around 10:30AM and they go through the lunch hour. This means my free times are Monday and Friday mornings, and Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

My office is located in the Capitol North Building also referred to as the Annex. There is a covered walkway connecting the Annex with the Round House. My office is in Room 203I. I share an office with Representative Gloria Vaughn from Alamogordo. Our secretary is Whitney Hobson from Roswell. She’s part of the Hobson farming family. To call my office, the number is 505-986-4453. Anyone coming to Santa Fe is welcome to come visit.

This last week I introduced my first bill, House Bill 454, titled “An Act Relating to Public Access to Budget Information; Requiring Creation of a Searchable Budget Database with Public Access; Enacting the Budget Transparency Act.” This is a companion bill to one introduced in the Senate by Senator Sander Rue who is a freshman senator from Albuquerque. Briefly, the purpose of the bill is to require the state government to put all expenditures of state money on line in a format which is searchable through the Internet. In other words, you would be able to find out if a certain individual or company has received any payments from the state and how much those payments were, and when they were paid. To see an example of this in action, go to the State of Missouri website, The State of Missouri did this a couple of years ago and numerous other states are following suit.

Over the years, New Mexico has had its reputation harmed because of the numerous scandals involving public officials. Recently we were the butt of a joke by a late night talk show host, David Letterman. I believe, as does Senator Rue and many others, that the way to turn our reputation around is to bring transparency to state government. The bright light of day needs to shine into every corner of our state’s financial transactions. I believe this will go a long way towards accomplishing that objective.