News from the Session: Summer 2009 Newsletter
NEW OPTIONS FOR HOMEOWNERS AND BUSINESSES
Homeowners and businesses in Santa Fe will soon have a new way to finance renewable energy improvements on their home or business. Last month, the Santa Fe County Commission passed two resolutions authorizing action under the Renewable Energy District Financing Act. This law went into effect on July 1st with Governor Richardson’s signatures on Senate Bill 647 which I sponsored this past Legislative session, and HB 572 introduced by Rep. Brian Egolf, District 47 Santa Fe. Once a district is created by a local government, participants will be able to use a special assessment on their property tax to pay for a photovoltaic, solar thermal, geothermal or wind system.
Santa Fe County Resolution No. 126 establishes the framework for formal notice of a public hearing which is required under the new law before an ordinance is adopted. Of interest, it also contains an application which each participant will be required to complete. Click on the following link for more information: http://www.santafecounty.org/gfx/ordinances/2009-126.pdf.
Resolution No. 127 directs the Santa Fe County Assessor and Treasurer to adopt guidelines for the mechanics whereby these loans will become a special assessment. The following link has more information: http://www.santafecounty.org/gfx/ordinances/2009-127.pdf
County Commissioner Kathy Holien has taken the lead in enacting this ordinance and is doing a terrific job. This exciting new program not only is good for the environment but makes bottom line economic sense.
This summer has been particularly difficult for all of us in Santa Fe with yet another horrific car crash involving a drunk driver resulting in the tragic and senseless deaths of four teenagers. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those involved.
The Legislature has been actively working to reduce DWI, passing laws mandating interlock systems for first time offenders and increasing penalties for repeat drunk drivers. Governor Richardson authorized tough new administrative penalties on individuals and business that serve and sell alcohol to intoxicated patrons. The number of DWI deaths has gone down in New Mexico. Yet it’s obvious more needs to be done.
I am committed to continuing work on this pressing issue in upcoming Legislative sessions. Alcoholism is a disease, and it is unrealistic to think someone will come out of prison with any better ability to cope if they do not receive help with their addiction while they serve time. Thus while we look at increased penalties, we cannot lose sight of the need for more treatment options.
Your ideas on how we continue our efforts to reduce DWI in New Mexico are welcome and appreciated.
Nine of the bills I carried during the 2009 legislative session became law on July 1st. Many of these new statutes have been publicized: our new stalking law (SB 166), campaign finance and reporting laws (SB 128), and a new law to help pay for the costs to care for animals whose owners have been charged with cruelty (SB 127). Senate Bill 126, on the other hand, has not received much publicity and has the real ability to save lives for those without health insurance who need affordable prescription drugs.
When Governor Richardson signed Senate Bill 128, he made it easier for New Mexicans to find the lowest price prescription drugs. For many, access to affordable prescription drugs can be a life and death issue, something I certainly hope President Obama and Congress will address at the national level as they tackle heath care reform. Yet, until something is done to change our current system, for those in New Mexico without health insurance, finding the lowest price drug requires an exhaustive trial and error process requiring visits to various pharmacies to find out what they charge.
Why you ask? Well, prior to this law, pharmacies were not required to disclose prescription drug prices, meaning consumers often only found out how much the drug costs when they actually purchased it. And, what many will find surprising, the range of prices charged for the identical prescription drugs has varied widely with some pharmacies charging three to four times what another pharmacy charges for the identical drug.
With this new law, pharmacies must disclose the price of a particular drug in response to a telephone or e-mail request from a consumer or the Attorney General. Accessible price information makes it easier for those without insurance to get the drugs they need at prices they can afford.
It is a tremendous honor to serve in the New Mexico State Senate and I appreciate all of the input I receive from constituents living in Senate District 25 and other New Mexicans who want to have their opinions heard. If this newsletter is something you find worthwhile, take a moment to forward it to your friends and colleagues and ask them to sign up at our website. My plan is to send this out several times a year and I will do my best to make it meaningful. I hope in a small way this makes our government somewhat more accessible.
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