Saturday, February 13, 2010

Senate fixes tax lightning

The New Mexico State Senate tonight took the hit out of tax lightning that has largely struck Bernalillo County by passing SB 160- Property Tax Methods by a vote of 22 to 16.

The bill is expected to make property taxes fairer in Bernalillo County and across the state where tax disparities have been striking since a law changed several years ago to remove a cap on property taxes when ownership of the property changed.

That resulted in an alarming tax disparity among property owners because when there was a change of ownership a 3% annual cap on property valuations was not extended to the new owner. That often resulted in property taxes skyrocketing for the new owner whose property was assessed at current and correct values compared to neighbors whose taxes were still being limited by the 3% cap on valuations.

Sen. Steven Neville, R-San Juan,, said the goal of the bill is to equalize valuations and thereby property taxes that have gotten out of whack over the past several so everyone pays their fair share to run government.

“The cap for some and not for all went against the principle of fair and equal taxation,“ Neville said. “Some neighbors were paying more than their fair share of services compared to their neighbors. The new owners were subsiding their neighbors and that is not fair.”

Neville says his bill will help equalize taxes by allowing the 3% property valuation cap to remain in place even when there is a change of ownership.

He said it also calls for the county assessors to determine the current and correct values for all property in their counties over the next five years so taxation can be based on those current values.

While that might mean some taxpayers whose property that has been greatly undervalued will see their property taxes increase
when the current and correct value is determined, overall taxes in the county should not rise because of a law called yield control.

Neville said because of yield control, taxes are not arbitrarily raised when property values increase in a county. If property values go up in a county, tax rates applied to the property go down because of yield control, resulting in tax collections in general remaining the same.

“Correcting the problem will be spread out over five years so there will not be a shock for those who have been subsidized in recent years. Facts are, there will be a slow rise in taxes for those who have been subsidized. Those who have bought property over the past several years and experienced unfair taxes should see their taxes slow down over the next five years when valuations become more accurate,” Neville said.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, February 12, 2010

Foto Friday: Sun's magnetic field

This illustration shows convoluted magnetic field lines
extending out all over the Sun.(Image credits: NASA / SVS via Space)

NASA on Thursday launched a new observatory that is designed to evaluate the complex mechanisms of the sun.

The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) was launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Florida's Atlantic Coast at 10:23 a. m. EST (1523 GMT), NASA said in a statement.

The SDO is billed as the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the sun and its dynamic behavior.

It has a five-year science mission and carries enough fuel to operate for an additional five years. Total cost of the SDO project is reported to be at 856 million U.S. dollars.

NASA said the SDO will provide better quality, more comprehensive science data faster than any of the space agency's spacecraft currently studying the sun and its processes.

Research by the new observatory is expected to reveal the sun's inner workings by constantly taking high resolution images of the sun, collecting readings from inside the sun and measuring its magnetic field activity.

According to NASA, the SDO will take images of the sun every 0. 75 seconds and daily send back about 1.5 terabytes of data to Earth -- the equivalent of streaming 380 full-length movies.

"SDO is going to make a huge step forward in our understanding of the sun and its effects on life and society," Richard Fisher, director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters, said in a statement.

Data from the observatory will help researchers predict solar storms and other activity on the sun that can affect spacecraft in orbit, astronauts on the International Space Station and electronic and other systems on earth, NASA said.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, February 11, 2010

State teams being deployed to Haiti

Six UNM physicians join a 23-member New Mexico Disaster Medical Assistance Team (NM DMAT) in a two-week deployment to Haiti beginning this Friday, February 12. UNM DMAT members include specialists in emergency medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology.

NM DMAT will augment an International Medical Surgical Response Team (IMSuRT) – a specialized unit of highly trained personnel equipped to establish a fully capable, free-standing field surgical facility anywhere in the world. The combined IMSuRT unit, the fourth such group to rotate into Haiti, expects to be operational by Saturday. Byron Piatt, UNM’s Emergency Manager and NM DMAT Team Commander, will lead the joint unit.

Approximately 200 volunteers from around the state comprise the NM DMAT, but typically about 35 team members are assigned to a disaster response. Team members include physicians, nurses, pharmacists and emergency medical technicians, as well as administrative, security, safety, logistics and communications personnel.

Since its inception, NM DMAT has responded to terrorist attacks, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and fires.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Wilson honored by Air Force Academy

Former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, the only Air Force Academy graduate to serve in Congress, has been selected as one of two distinguished graduates to be honored this year by the Air Force Academy for her "singular and distinctive contributions to our society and nation". She is the first woman graduate to earn this honor and the youngest graduate ever chosen.

"The Academy chooses two graduates each year to hold up as role models to current cadets and the nation. I'm very honored to be one of them this year," Wilson told us. "This award is both about what I have accomplished as a leader, but it also reflects my continued commitment to the education of young officers."

Wilson, a 1982 Distinguished Graduate of the Academy, served as the Cadet Vice Wing Commander and was later selected to attend Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

Her active duty service included assignments in Europe where she participated as part of the Secretary of Defense’s team in the Conventional Forces in Europe negotiations in Vienna, Austria. She then served on the National Security Council at the White House. After her military service Ms Wilson joined her husband in New Mexico where she founded a successful consulting service company.

She will receive her award at a formal presentation during Academy Founder’s Day in April 2010.

Bookmark and Share

Barela now a 'Contender'

The National Republican Congressional Committee has advanced 1st Congressional Republican candidate Jon Barela to ’Contender’ status in its 2010 Young Guns program, a three-step program dedicated to electing open-seat and challenger GOP candidates nationwide.

“I’m proud of the work being done by our staff and volunteers, as we offer New Mexicans a clear alternative to the high-tax, high-spend status quo being offered by Martin Heinrich and Nancy Pelosi in Washington,” Barela said in a Monday news release. “I’m honored and excited to join the ‘Contender’ ranks in the NRCC Young Guns program.”

NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions said in a news release that Barela “has already proven that he will be a formidable candidate by meeting the Young Guns program’s rigorous goals and is well on his way to building a winning campaign that will put this seat back in the Republican column.”

“Jon is part of a strong and growing pool of candidates who are frustrated with the Democrat majority’s big-government ways and aren’t willing to stand by any longer,” Sessions said. “His campaign has put Martin Heinrich on notice that Americans are ready to turn the page on the failed experiment known as the Obama-Pelosi agenda.”

Former 2nd Congressional District Rep. Steve Pearce, who is trying to retake the seat from Democratic Rep. Harry Teague, was already listed as a contender in the NRCC program. Neither Republican 3rd Congressional District primary candidate, Tom Mullins nor Adam Kokesh, are in NRCC's program.

Last month, we caught up with Barela at an Albuquerque Tea Party sponsored candidate “Meet and Greet” event in Rio Rancho.

He told nearly 400 people, who attended the event, that “there is going to be a stark difference” between him and incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich.

Recorded on January 16, 2009.

Bookmark and Share