The passing of Justice Antonin Scalia represented nothing less than the passing of an era in American jurisprudence. What is the judicial legacy of Scalia? How will his passing affect current and future Court decisions including the Friedrichs case on "Right to Work" for government employees?
What is the future of the Supreme Court?
Join us for lunch with Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow of Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute. Ilya will discuss and analyze these and other important questions facing the nation and its highest Court.
Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review. Before joining Cato, he was a special assistant/adviser to the Multi-National Force in Iraq on rule-of-law issues and practiced at Patton Boggs and Cleary Gottlieb.
Shapiro is the co-author of Religious Liberties for Corporations? Hobby Lobby, the Affordable Care Act, and the Constitution (2014). He has contributed to a variety of academic, popular, and professional publications. He also regularly provides commentary for various media outlets, including CNN, Fox News, ABC, CBS, NBC, Univision and Telemundo, the Colbert Report, and NPR.
Shapiro lectures regularly on behalf of the Federalist Society, is a member of the Legal Studies Institute's board of visitors at The Fund for American Studies, was an inaugural Washington Fellow at the National Review Institute and a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute, and has been an adjunct professor at the George Washington University Law School. In 2015 National Law Journal named him to its list of 40 "rising stars" in the legal community.
Before entering private practice, Shapiro clerked for Judge E. Grady Jolly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He holds an AB from Princeton University, an MSc from the London School of Economics, and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School (where he became a Tony Pati&#ntilde;o Fellow).
On this week's "Eye on New Mexico" on Channel 4, KKOB, Chris Ramirez talked to Commissioner de la Cruz and Marcos Gonzales of the Bernalillo County Economic Development Department about economic development and the Commissioner's trip to France. My interview starts at the 4 minute mark and de la Cruz defends the $20K spent on the trip after that.
So far, the Commissioner admits that no specific projects have resulted from the trip. I'm sure we'll be notified if that changes.
Given the challenges facing New Mexico’s economy — and with the price of gasoline on the rebound — we at the Rio Grande Foundation expressed our view that the citizens and political leadership in Sandoval County should have given SandRidge Energy a fair hearing over their desire to drill an exploratory well in the county. Unfortunately, that did not happen and SandRidge left.
Now, out-of-state environmental groups including Food and Water Watch, the Sierra Club, and Environment New Mexico are pushing a complete moratorium (five years in duration) on oil and gas drilling within Sandoval County. These groups are philosophically opposed to the traditional sources of energy that fund one-third of New Mexico’s budget. There are no unusual issues with drilling for oil and gas in this part of Sandoval County, rather there is a political opportunity to capitalize on fear of the unknown to advance their anti-energy agenda.
It is time for the citizens of Sandoval County to push back against any such ban and support jobs and economic opportunities for their friends and neighbors.
The oil and gas industries in Sandoval County alone generated $25.8 million (according to 2013 data from the New Mexico Tax Research Institute). That’s the production value alone, not including the so-called “multipliers” and other follow-on impacts.
The anti-frackers nearly hyperventilate in opposing the use of “hydraulic fracturing” in order to access new sources of oil and gas, but must rely on fear and ignorance to generate public opposition.
Journal columnist Winthrop Quigley seems to believe that what New Mexico’s struggling economy needs right now is higher taxes. We at the Rio Grande Foundation couldn’t disagree more and believe raising taxes would have further deleterious effects on our economy.
Disagreements aside, we do share agreement with Quigley that New Mexico’s tax structure must be reformed. The gross receipts tax is uniquely harmful to the growth and development of small businesses. It also encourages businesses to lobby the Legislature to lobby for exemptions or outright subsidies before locating here. The Legislature must act to reform this harmful tax structure.
It is a myth that New Mexico is a low-tax state. According to the Federation of Tax Administrators, our tax burden as a percent of personal income is ninth-heaviest in the nation. This is far heavier than the tax burdens of our more economically successful neighbors : Arizona ranks 39, Colorado 45, Oklahoma 37, Texas 44 and Utah 31.
Now for the (substantial) disagreements.
The Rio Grande Foundation is launching a new radio show on a new home, “The Rock of Talk” 95.9FM and 1600AM. The show called “Tipping Point New Mexico” will air Saturdays weekly from noon to 3pm.
Hosts will rotate but will include RGF's Paul Gessing, Dowd Muska, and Burly Cain.
Issues addressed on the show will include New Mexico's economy and the importance of 2016 in turning our state around. If you want to participate in the discussion, you can call in at: 505-550-5500.
This week we'll talk about Albuquerque Rapid Transit, the push by some to raise taxes in New Mexico, and more.
I recently appeared on a panel discussion in Las Cruces to discuss the influence of "outside money" in local campaigns. Aside from myself, panelists included Sen. Joe Cervantes, Daniel Chand, PhD, Viki Harrison of Common Causes, and Las Cruces City Counselor Gill Sorg.
You can read my detailed comments on Sunshine Week itself and the appropriateness of the topic here. Video below:
Sunshine Week has technically come and gone, but in order to accommodate Spring Break at NMSU, this year’s celebration is being held this Wednesday, March 23rd, at 5:30 p.m. on the 3rd floor of the Zuhl Library.
Panelists include Senator Joseph Cervantes, City Councilor Gill Sorg, Viki Harrison from Common Cause, Dr. Daniel Chand from the NMSU Government Department, and myself. As is typically the case, I expect that my views and those of the Rio Grande Foundation will be in the minority, so I want to share them here and encourage people in Southern New Mexico to turn out for the event.Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. You will find few bigger supporters of government transparency than us at the Rio Grande Foundation. My organization has done significant work on the creation of New Mexico’s Sunshine Portal as well as requesting and posting public information from local governments and school districts online. Lastly, we’ve pushed for video recording of legislative floor proceedings and committee hearings.
Significant progress has been made in each of these areas. There is still plenty to be done to improve government transparency in New Mexico including, but not limited to: placing local public payrolls, vendor, and union contracts, and thorough economic analyses of tax and economic incentives, online.
Unfortunately, the topic of this year’s Sunshine Week panel revolves around “outside” money in local elections. Campaign finance reform and government transparency are two different and largely unrelated issues.
This op-ed ran in The Santa Fe New Mexican on March 20th.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of New Mexico's Legislative Lottery Scholarship Program.
Unfortunately, there isn't much to celebrate.
A well-intentioned attempt to boost access to higher learning in the Land of Enchantment, the program was crafted by a Democratic legislature and Republican governor. But it suffers from a serious, if seldom-discussed, flaw.
Lottery scholarships certainly don’t have a popularity problem. A report by the New Mexico Higher Education Department found that between 2000 and 2014, the number of program recipients doubled. Expenditures, of course, ballooned as well, rising to $66.8 million in the 2014 fiscal year.
By law, the New Mexico Lottery Authority is required to set aside 30 percent of monthly gross revenue for scholarships. But solvency has been an issue for years -- in 2014, gamblers supplied just 61 percent of the program's funding. A slumping economy and a decline in "scratcher" sales sent legislators and the authority scrambling for cost savings and new monies. Eligibility was tightened, and the number of semesters covered for a four-year degree fell from eight to seven. Tobacco-settlement revenue has been transferred to the tuition fund, and special appropriations have been made. In 2014, legislators began to divert a portion of the revenue stream from New Mexico’s excise tax on liquor. In the just-completed session, lawmakers required the lottery authority to devote unclaimed-prize cash to scholarships. (Governor Martinez vetoed the bill.)