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February 18, 2016

House panel kills bill to shore up lottery fundLas Cruces Sun News

The House Ways and Means Committee has killed a bill that would have required the New Mexico Lottery to provide $41 million a year to a stagnant fund for college scholarships. The committee voted 8-5 against Senate Bill 180 on Wednesday, with two Democratic lawmakers joining Republicans in voting against the bill and one Republican crossing party lines to vote for it. Their action effectively leaves the struggling scholarship program without any means to shore it up until next year's legislative session. - - 2/18/16

Bill to let 17-year-olds vote in primaries OKedLas Cruces Sun News

Certain 17-year-olds would be able to vote in primary elections under HB 138 now on its way to Gov. Susana Martinez. The measure would allow 17-year-olds to vote in the primary if they will turn 18 before the general election. Senators voted for the measure 24-16. House members approved it 10 days ago in a 41-26 vote. - - 2/18/16

Legislature roundup Feb. 17Las Cruces Sun News

Industrial batteries:

The full Legislature has approved SB 76 that adds lead-acid batteries to the scrap metals that are tracked under a state law aimed at catching thieves. "Industrial batteries on bulldozers and other large equipment can weigh 100 pounds and bring in a quick $100 for drug addicts who steal them and sell them to battery shops and recycling centers," said Sen. Steve Neville, R-Aztec, the bill sponsor. - - 2/18/16

Share the road:

The Senate approved Senate Bill 270 Wednesday allowing all-terrain vehicles and off-highway vehicles to drive on paved roads at speeds up to 55 mph unless prohibited by local authorities. The bill, approved in a vote of 34-7, was sent to the House of Representatives with less than a day left in the legislative session. - - 2/18/16

More School:

Senate Bill 81, introduced by Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort, R-Sandia Park, won support from both Republican and Democrat lawmakers who said the extra classroom time should pay off in higher academic achievement levels for students. Schools would have to apply quickly for the program and would be notified by April 15. The bill next goes to the House of Representatives. - - 2/18/16

Brain Injury:

The Senate unanimously approved a SB 180 to amend the state law on care of youth league and high school athletes who receive brain injuries. Players would be required to sit out at least 10 days after being diagnosed with a concussion. Current law requires seven days. - - 2/18/16

February 17, 2016

Bill to expand use of overdose drug awaits voteLas Cruces Sun News

With the Legislative session ending Thursday, a bill to expand the use of a powerful drug to reverse opioid overdoses is still waiting for a final vote on the Senate floor. House Bill 277, sponsored by Rep. Terry H. McMillan, R-Las Cruces, and the only physician serving in the Legislature, would allow for possession of an opioid antidote under a standing prescription order instead of mandating that drug users and family members have a direct consultation with a physician or a pharmacist. - - 2/17/16

Bill would restrict spending of campaign fundsLas Cruces Sun News

Candidates for state political offices no longer could spend campaign funds on clothing, haircuts or doctor bills under a bill unanimously recommended Tuesday by a House committee. With virtually no discussion, the House Judiciary Committee voted to send House Bill 310, sponsored by Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell, to the full House for a vote. - - 2/17/16

Governor: Residents ones who urged license reformLas Cruces Sun News

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said she kept pushing for a revision to a state law that grants driver’s licenses to immigrants in the country illegally because residents urged her to continue the fight. This weekend, the New Mexico Democratic-controlled Senate and GOP-led House passed House Bill 94 that would stop immigrants in the country illegally from obtaining new driver’s licenses. Residents would have the option of applying for a driver’s license that is compliant under the federal REAL ID Act or getting a noncompliant driver’s authorization card. - - 2/17/16

February 11, 2016

Legislature roundup Feb. 10Las Cruces Sun News

Marijuana amendment: A proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize marijuana for recreational use squeaked out of a Senate committee Wednesday. The Senate Rules Committee voted 6-4 to pass Senate Joint Resolution 5 to its next committee without any recommendation. An initial vote on whether to endorse the measure deadlocked in a 5-5, party-line vote. But on the vote to advance the bill without recommendation, Republican Sen. Ted Barela of Estancia voted with the Democrats. - - 2/11/16

'Right to work': The Senate Public Affairs Committee, voting along straight party lines late Tuesday, effectively killed the only so-called "right-to-work" bill. Senate Bill 269, sponsored by Moores, would have prohibited collecting mandatory fees from a worker who chooses not to belong to a union. - - 2/11/16

February 12, 2016

Legislature roundup Feb. 11Las Cruces Sun News

Gun bill: In a surprise move Thursday, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that would close loopholes in New Mexico law by requiring the state's courts to report relevant mental health records to the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System. House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, originally introduced this proposal in House Bill 91. However that bill never received a message from Gov. Susana Martinez to allow it to be heard during the 30-day budget session. - - 2/12/16

Curfew proposal: The Senate Public Affairs Committee voted 5-4 Thursday night for House Bill 29 that would allow cities and counties to impose curfews on minors between midnight and 5 a.m. The measure has already cleared the House of Representatives. - - 2/12/16

No to fingerprints: Numerous groups, including the New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association, said Thursday they oppose HB 99 requiring fingerprinting of undocumented immigrants who receive state driver's licenses or driver's authorization cards. - - 2/12/16

Tracking campaign cash: The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill that would make it easier for the public to track the millions of dollars spent on campaigns during state elections. HB 105, sponsored by Rep. Jim Smith, R-Sandia Park, and Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, appropriates $985,000 to the Secretary of State's Office to pay for upgrades, maintenance and operations for the electronic reporting system. - - 2/12/16

Forfeiting pensions: A House committee on Thursday recommended the Public Pension Forfeiture Act that would strip state officials of their pension benefits if they are convicted of a felony while in office. The House Safety and Civil Affairs voted to give a do-pass recommendation to House bill 278, sponsored by Rep. Zach Cook, R-Ruidoso. - - 2/12/16

Bail compromise? The bail bond industry and key legislators pushing proposed constitutional amendments to reform the state's bail system apparently have agreed to a compromise. On Wednesday the sponsors of the competing measures agreed to work on a compromise using Wirth's Senate Joint Resolution 1 — which already has passed the Senate and one House committee — as the vehicle. Wirth's amendment would allow judges to hold some violent criminals in jail without bail before trial and would allow some nonviolent indigent defendants to be released. The other proposal, HJR 13, sponsored by Rep. David Adkins, R-Albuquerque, does not contain the provision about indigent defendants. - - 2/12/16


February 10, 2016

Legislature roundup Feb. 10Las Cruces Sun News

Worker benefits: Local governments no longer would be able to mandate that businesses provide sick leave, family leave or fringe benefits for workers under a bill that cleared the House Business and Employment Committee on Tuesday. House Bill 211, sponsored by Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, and Sen. Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque, originally would have taken away the ability of local governments to establish their own minimum wage. - - 2/10/2016

Bipartisan gun bill: A Senate committee's action Tuesday drew praise from a former astronaut who now is a spokesman for a national gun-control group. Mark Kelly, who with his wife, former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, founded Americans for Responsible Solutions, applauded the Senate Public Affairs Committee for unanimously recommending passage of Senate Bill 331. Supporters say the measure would close loopholes in New Mexico law by requiring the state's courts to report relevant mental health records to the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System. - - 2/10/2016

Abortion bill: It looks like a House panel will get to vote again on a bill to increase state oversight of abortion providers. The House Health Committee last week voted 6-4 to table HB 275, sponsored by Rep. Rod Montoya, R-Farmington. Republican Rep. Andy Nuñez of Hatch voted with five Democrats to table the bill. - - 2/10/2016

McCamley tax bill killed in committeeLas Cruces Sun News

Legislation by Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Las Cruces, that would have provided a tax credit for low-income families while also repealing the capital gains tax deduction was defeated late last week on a 6-5 party-line vote in the House Ways and Means Committee. House Bill 79 would have increased the state’s Working Families Tax Credit from 10 percent of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit to 20 percent. - - 2/10/2016