Three UNM Regents were confirmed by the New Mexico Senate today, with unanimous approval, many kudos and much applause. The resumes of Dr. Conrad James (Albuquerque), Suzanne Quillen (Las Cruces) and student regent Heidi Overton (Gallup) were reviewed in Senate Rules and feted on the Senate floor. Senators also shared their high expectations for the future of the flagship.

Lottery Legislation
"Welcome to the Legislative Process." It was a refrain oft repeated by House Education chair Mimi Stewart at this morning's hearing on HB 586 - the lottery solvency fix being forwarded by UNM students. This bill is the next step in the fluid process initiated by our students last fall in an effort to involve students in the solutions designed to fix the lottery scholarship fund which will soon begin running a deficit.

The legislation is being sponsored by Rep. Jim Smith (R-Sandia Park) and Sen. Tim Keller (D-Albuquerque). Rep. Smith came in with a committee substitute which focuses on tying scholarship levels to GPA: 2.75 would get 60 percent, 3.0 would get 70 percent and 3.5 and above would earn 80 percent. Of note is the provision that current students would be grandfathered in so they would still get a full scholarship. What was removed from the original bill was a needs-based provision tying the scholarship to household income. Rep. Rick Miera (D-Albuquerque) commented that this had been the provision he liked the best.

ASUNM president Caroline Muraida helped Rep. Smith present the bill and former UNM student regent Jake Wellman spoke in its favor, saying its provisions will help promote graduation and student success. Several committee members agreed, saying the sliding GPA scale stresses academic performance. But there were several questions about how the bill deals with articulation, remedial classes and what best constitutes a full semester load. So the sponsor and students were urged to do some more tweaking and bring the bill back before the committee on Wednesday.

There are a number of lottery solvency bills circulating. It is anticipated they will pulled together is some fashion, most likely in the Senate.

Long floor sessions are expected today.

Susan McKinsey, Office of Government and Community Relations