I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Posts Tagged Tim Keller
New Mexico Senators criticized vetoes made today by Gov. Susana Martinez. Sens. Dede Feldman, D-Albuquerque, and George Munoz, D-Gallup, said a veto of a bill to create a health insurance exchange may mean more federal control of the insurance marketplace in New Mexico, while Alburquerque Sen. Tim Keller criticized Martinez for vetoing transparency and accountability measures.
Gov. Susana Martinez said she will webcast State Investment Council meetings according to a report from NMPolitics.net Friday morning. The move comes after Martinez has been criticized for sending workers to tape committee meetings for what some Democrats believe are political reasons.
State Sen. Tim Keller, D-Albuquerque, announced his second phase of reform of the State Investment Fund: His new proposed legislation for the upcoming 60-day session includes taking the governor off of the State Investment Council entirely.
Blaming competing demands like college midterms and the Balloon Fiesta, UNM organizers acknowledged a smaller-than-expected turnout for Sunday’s 10/10/10 “Take the Next Step” climate policy summit.
Despite live reggae and jazz music, and vendors offering pastries and locally-grown organic…
The state Human Services Division (HSD) and Attorney General’s office will sign a new memo of understanding about data sharing and the coordination of Medicaid fraud investigations, officials at both agencies told The Independent Monday.
While a number of high-profile ethics and transparency measures died as the clock expired on the regular session last week, the New Mexico Legislature also sent a number of significant proposals to the governor for action.
The curious case of Senate bill 531 is heating up. The bill–which would force state agencies to share financial data, including Medicaid spending, with the Legislative Finance Committee–is on today’s agenda of the House Judiciary Committee, but it wasn’t…
State lawmakers should have judged Neri Holguin on her professional qualifications, not her past political work, Gov. Bill Richardson said Tuesday, after the Senate rejected his nominee to the state Environmental Improvement Board by a vote of 17…
A political battle over control of New Mexico’s dominant party played out on the Senate floor Tuesday over an unexpected issue: an Albuquerque woman’s nomination to a state board. Confirmations in the Senate are usually uneventful and state lawmakers usually speak…
Annie got one step closer to being able to carry her concealed gun into a restaurant on Friday.
Gov. Bill Richardson will lose control of the State Investment Council while the State Investment Officer no longer could hire and fire fund managers under legislation that cleared the Senate on Friday evening. Senators voted unanimously after a short debate to dramatically re-structure how the Council (SIC) is governed.
The Senate voted Monday to overrideGov. Bill Richardson’s veto of a 2009 bill that would have required state agencies to share confidential data with the Legislative Finance Committee. The tension between the LFC and state agencies over lack of sharing data has simmered for years. But last month, The Independent revealed, in an exclusive story, that an Attorney General’s report shows the state had hindered Medicaid fraud investigations.
On Tuesday Senator Tim Keller (D-Albuquerque) introduced a motion to revive SB 531, a transparency bill that was unanimously passed by the Legislature last year only to be pocket-vetoed by Governor Bill Richardson.
Keller’s recall motion passed with unanimous consent. It was the first step toward a legislative override of Richardson’s veto.
“This was just the first step in a two-step process – recalling the bill to the Senate floor,” Keller explained. “It’s a totally arcane process. You can’t just move for an override. Vetoed bills go to the Secretary of State’s for a year in case they are recalled to the Senate for an override.”
Another motion will be required for an up-or-down vote by the full senate. A two-thirds majority in both houses is necessary for a veto override.
SB 531, which would have forced state agencies to share Medicaid spending and other financial data with the Legislative Finance Committee, unanimously passed both houses of the Legislature last year.
“We definitely have an issue with investigating Medicaid fraud,” Keller told The Independent, referring to allegations by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud and Elder Abuse Division that the state Human Services Department (HSD) and Health Department have repeatedly “interfered” with investigations by not sharing data with investigators.
“This is not glamorous stuff, but it’s very important,” Keller said. “We cannot address the budget crisis without getting to the bottom of this. This year’s budget has $1 to $2 billion going through these Medicaid providers – 20 percent of our budget.”
SB 531 was intended to address state agencies’ failures to share several types of data with the Legislature, Keller said.
In a March 26, 2009 letter, Attorney General Gary King urged Gov. Richardson to sign the bill, saying it “resolves an ambiguity regarding whether existing law allows the Legislative Finance Committee to keep confidential non-public records it receives from agencies” and that the bill would “facilitate the exchange of information between government agencies and the Legislative Finance Committee.”
“Other (than Medicaid), areas where we have had these problems are in education, prison system and state investment funds,” Keller said.
Keller hopes to avoid a contentious fight, he said.
“We did not do this in a controversial way but the issue has come up again with the AG’s allegations, and we need to deal with it,” he said. “We need to keep things focused on the issue and avoid territorial disputes.”
Keller began meeting with officials from the AG and HSD today, he said, though he refused to discuss details.
“The next step is to talk with the agencies,” Keller said. “Then the full Senate will decide whether to move forward with the override.”
The Governor’s office has not yet responded to requests for comment. HSD Spokeswoman Betina Gonzales McCracken refused to comment on Keller’s efforts Tuesday, saying only, “the Human Services Department will work with the AG’s office to clarify any issues that may exist.”
“It’s amazing that we would have to explicitly legislate checks and balances like this,” Welsh said Tuesday. “Basically, they want information and they feel thwarted. This latest move might seem like inside baseball, but it really points to a larger problem that I run into nearly every day – it’s very difficult to get information out of this administration. And it’s not just reporters who get frustrated. It’s legislators and candidates and activists of all stripes. It’s a baffling phenomenon until you remember: information is power, particularly in this new digital age.”
Feds “Aware” of Allegations
Last week, The Independent revealed, in an exclusive story, that an Attorney General’s report shows the state had hindered Medicaid fraud investigations.
The Fraud Division reported allegations of HSD and Health Department stonewalling and “sterilized” disclosures of Medicaid data to investigators in its 2009 annual report to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Those allegations were forwarded to the U.S. Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), the agency that administers federal Medicaid funding to the state, Inspector General spokesman Mark Wilson told The Independent Monday.
“We alerted CMS to the issue, based on the New Mexico Attorney General’s report,” Wilson said. “Now it’s up to them to contact the state and find out what’s going on there.”
CMS officials did not respond to emails and telephone messages requesting comment. McCracken would not comment on whether CMS had contacted HSD about the allegations.
Members of the state Senate gloated today after Friday’s 43-42 victory in the House vs. Senate basketball game. The win broke a streak of nine straight victories by the House. The game, held in the St. Michael’s High School gym…
On Thursday, Gov. Bill Richardson gave the nod to a bill that sponsor Sen. Tim Keller said would be “the most sweeping investment fund reform in state history.” The bill incorporates more than 20 recommendations made by…
While we at the New Mexico Independent are sending tweets on our Twitter account about the state Legislature, we aren’t the only ones. Legislators, media and even the House GOP are sending out updates on the 2009 special session.
The Legislative Investments Oversight Committee meets today, and state Sen. Tim Keller is announcing a sweeping reform proposal that a news release from the Albuquerque Democrat says would “preserve the sanctity of our state funds and work…
State Sen. Tim Keller, who represents a portion of Albuquerque’s southeast heights in the New Mexico Senate, announced today that $500,000 in capital outlay money previously allocated for a rugby concession stand would be reallocated to other district priorities.
Albuquerque’s new International District is official as of Thursday morning.
The area has often been denigrated as the “war zone” by the media and public at large due to a high…