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October 31, 2014
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Bingaman votes "yes," but public option fails in committee
(2009-09-29)
(KSFR) -
Sept. 29-- 2 p.m. -- The U.S. Senate Finance Committee has now rejected two proposals that would have put in place a public option in federal healthcare legislation. The vote on a proposal by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was 13 against versus 10 in favor. Democratic Sen. Max Baucus was among the "no" votes. New Mexico's senior senator Jeff Bingaman sits on that committee. He voted "yes," saying he thought the latest proposal was better than the first one that was introduced this morning by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va). No bill has yet been finalized to go to the full senate for debate.

The forest service has begun a controlled burn of piled up trees that were cut during thinning operations. They say they're targeting 850 acres of slash over the coming days. The effort is part of a plan to avoid a devastating wildfire.

--7 a.m. -- The Santa Fe High School gym will become a courtroom this morning. Judge George Anaya plans to deliver sentences to three individuals who have already pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated. The student body will be there to see and hear the judge's ruling. Judge Anaya says he hopes it will be a good lesson for the students. The judge says strict courtroom decorum will be observed during the event. After the sentencing, the three individuals will speak to the student body to describe how their lives have been affected by their actions.

More is being learned about the mineral rights the Santa Fe Opera has leased to an oil and gas prospecting company hoping to drill in Mora and San Miguel Counties. The Opera got the rights as a bequest from long-time donor Rosemarie Shelleberger. But the Opera's General Director Charles McKay says it got only 20 percent of what lies beneath the surface of nearly 27,000 acres of land. While McKay would not disclose the identity of the other nonprofit to KSFR, he did later tell newspapers that it was the former College of Santa Fe. The City of Santa Fe now owns the land occupied by the former College of Santa Fe. But it's not known if the city has any claim to the mineral rights or the income that could be produced.

Eyes and ears will focus on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee today as that body grapples with what's considered the most contentious issue on the national debate on healthcare reform. That's the so-called "public option" that would create a government-run insurance plan competitive with existing insurance companies. West Virginia senator Jay Rockefeller brings that issue to the fore today. New Mexico's senior senator, Jeff Bingaman, who also serves on the finance committee has previously expressed support for a public option but also said he was unsure there would be enough votes from his colleagues to make that part of a final bill.

As state legislators prepare for an upcoming special session of the legislature in October to rectify a more than $400 million budget gap, new information may show the challenge to be bigger than previously thought. Deming democratic Senator John Arthur Smith is vice-president of the state senate finance committee. He's saying the actual deficit may be revised to $500 million or more when estimates are revised next month. Smith says the bleak financial outlook means the governor's proposals for remedy, a combination of agency cuts and allocations of federal stimulus monies, will likely be insufficient and therefore require even more stringent belt tightening in the January 2010 session of lawmakers.

The 64 year-old Taos Gorge Bridge, the 5th highest in the nation, is the subject of a Department of Transportation public meeting today. They'll be taking public
comments as to how to thwart suicide at the popular tourist destination that spans the Rio Grande across a 600 foot chasm. The D-O-T will be presenting various representations of additions to the steel structure that would prevent people from jumping. Options include increasing the height of railings to adding horizontal netting on either side beneath the roadway. That meeting is set for 6PM tonight at Taos High School.

Weather for Santa Fe sunny skies today with highs near 80 degrees. A very slight chance for a passing shower tomorrow ahead of colder air moving in--Wednesday night brings a slight chance for snow flurries.


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