New York Times: A Chance to Fix the Senate

For six years, Democrats in the Senate have chafed at an unprecedented abuse of the filibuster by Republicans, who have used the practice to hold up nominees high and low and require a supermajority for virtually every bill. But now that they finally have an opportunity to end much of this delay and abuse, Democrats are instead considering only a few half-measures.

Several younger senators, led by Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Tom Udall of New Mexico, say that if pressed, a majority of the Senate would support their plan for the talking filibuster. But older senators aren’t so sure, and have reportedly persuaded Harry Reid, the majority leader, to back off the idea. With the experience of having been in the minority themselves, these Democrats are fearful of losing a powerful tool should Republicans ever return to power in the chamber.

Earthtechling: Army’s Solar Array In New Mexico A World Beater

Last October, Lux Research analyst Edward Cahill wrote: “As hype for [high concentration photovoltaics] dwindles, companies are starting to look into low concentrating PV (LCPV) as an intermediate technology between expensive, highly efficiency HCPV and cheap, less efficient flat panel PV.”

Just a few months later, low concentration photovoltaics has a big new project to hang its hat on, the world’s largest LCPV project in the world, in fact: A 4.1-megawatt ground-mounted array with tracking at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

The installation was dedicated on Wednesday in a ceremony that brought out Army brass, including the Obama administration’s point-person on the Army’s green efforts, Assistant Secretary Katherine Hammack.

Corvallis Gazette-Times: As I See It: Let’s reform the filibuster

The favored form of filibuster is the silent filibuster. A senator simply objects to a request by another senator to hold a vote on an issue before the body. At that point, the Senate is paralyzed for two days before a “cloture vote” can be held to close debate, and that vote succeeds only if a super-majority of 60 vote in favor.

The use of this secret, silent filibuster has expanded dramatically in recent decades. In the six years that Lyndon B. Johnson was majority leader, he dealt with one filibuster. In the six years Harry Reid has been majority leader, he has faced 391!

Moreover, these filibuster tactics waste so much time — each one eats up a week of the Senate’s time even if a cloture vote is successful — that many issues never get to the floor.

Huffington Post: January’s Most Important Vote: The Senate Vote to Fix the Filibuster

While media attention has been focused on the “fiscal cliff,” the January 1st vote and the upcoming debt ceiling battle, a more important vote is scheduled for the Senate next week: the reform of the Senate filibuster rules.

The need for reform is obvious: the explosion of filibusters (more than 300 during the past 6 years — as compared to, say, one in the six years that Lyndon Johnson ran the Senate). The legislation that could never come to the floor (ex. The Dream Act for undocumented children, The Disclosure Act to require reporting of big political contributors to independent groups). And the legislation that has been weakened in order to get to 60 votes (including Obamacare).

The reform proposal of Democratic Senators Jeff Merkley (OR), Tom Harkin (IA) and Tom Udall (NM) would limit the number of filibusters on any single piece of legislation. No more blocking motions to bring a bill to the floor or motions to start the conference committee process.

New Mexico Telegram: Weekly Word talks to New Mexico Compass, Sen. Tom Udall

The Weekly Word is back! The weekly podcast that is a partnership between the New Mexico Telegram and Santa Fe Reporter was in Albuquerque this week, talking to Marisa DeMarco and Margaret Wright of the New Mexico Compass.

Joey Peters was on assignment, but SFR staff writer Justin Horwath pinch-hit as guest co-host on the podcast.

As a special bonus, there is a clip of U.S. Sen. Tom Udall talking to SFR editor Alexa Schirtzinger, a preview of the cover story for this week’s Santa Fe Reporter. So stay tuned after the discussion with DeMarco and Wright for that.

TPM: As Time Runs Short, Filibuster Reformers Escalate Campaign

One week before filibuster reform’s do-or-die moment, its two chief proponents are escalating their campaign, enlisting Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and the liberal Daily Kos community to help lead the charge.

The Senate returns early next week with a narrow window to either approve or scrap the resolution by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Tom Udall (D-NM) to require an obstructing minority to occupy the floor and speak for the duration of their filibuster.

Three senators and Daily Kos are issuing a new petition Monday that reads: “Just a few days left! Over the next few days, the fate of filibuster reform hangs in the balance. Let’s tell the leaders of the U.S. Senate that real reform includes a full talking filibuster.”

New Mexico in Focus: U.S. Senator Tom Udall & Governor Susana Martinez on the upcoming legislative session in Santa Fe

With a new Congress assembling in Washington, D.C. and the upcoming legislative session in Santa Fe, this week NEW MEXICO IN FOCUS talks to key leaders.

U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D), just four years into his first term, is now the senior senator from New Mexico. NMiF producer Matt Grubs speaks with Sen. Udall about the fiscal cliff’s real cost to middle class taxpayers and the battle the senator is leading to reform the filibuster in the Senate.

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez is already making news with the announcement that she’ll accept a federal offer to expand the state’s Medicaid program. NMiF correspondent Sarah Gustavus talks to the governor about what’s likely to come out of the legislative session and why New Mexico’s economy continues to lag behind the rest of the West and the nation.

An all-journalist Line panel offers opinions on important legislative narratives that will play out over the next two months, including leadership battles and what issues are likely to gain traction as lawmakers gather for their annual assembly.