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March 21, 2017

Wrap-up of key bills from New Mexico LegislatureLas Cruces Sun News

HB 45 Would have extended penalties under the Baby Brianna Law to include victims up to age 18. Died in Senate Judiciary Committee.

HB 89 Would have legalized the sale and taxation of marijuana. Died in House Business and Industry Committee.

HB 174 Would require local elections to be held on the same day as general elections. Passed House and Senate, pending governor’s signature.

HB 202 A package of tax increases on gas, car and truck sales, Internet sales and medical services. Passed House and Senate. Governor has said she will veto.

HB 211 Would require that new standards be set for teaching science and math. Passed House and Senate, pending governor’s signature.

HB 241 Would have allowed teachers to use sick days without impacting their evaluation. Passed House and Senate; vetoed by governor; Senate voted to override veto, House override vote fell short.

HB 393 Would create new licenses plate devoted to chili peppers. Passed House and Senate, pending governor’s signature.

HB 398 Would have increased taxes on alcohol. Died in the House Health and Human Services Committee.

HB 412 Would have made major changes to state gross receipts tax. Died in Senate Corporations Committee.

SB 15 Would have capped interest rates on small loans at 36 percent. Died in Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee. A separate bill capping rates at 175 percent passed and is pending the governor’s signature.

SB 48 Would have expanded background check requirements on gun sales. Died in Senate Judiciary Committee. A similar bill in the House also died in committee.

SB 96 Would add new requirements to the Campaign Reporting Act. Passed House and Senate, pending governor’s signature.

SB 217 Would provide due-process protections for Medicaid providers in the state. Passed House and Senate, pending governor’s signature.

SB 224 Would have allowed voters to registers up to three days before an election. Died in House Local Governments Committee.

SB 227 Would set framework for installation of solar panels on state buildings. Passed House and Senate, pending governor’s signature.

SB 231 Would have increased taxes on cigarettes. Died in House Taxation and Revenue Committee.

SB 258 Would have lowered penalties for marijuana possession. Died on the House floor without a vote.

SB 268 Would have prohibited coyote killing contests. Died on the House floor without a vote.

SB 270 would have prohibited local enforcement of federal immigration laws. Died on Senate floor without a vote.

SB 354 Would establish new interagency group designed to lower the cost state pays for prescription drugs. Passed House and Senate, pending governor’s signature.

SB 360 Would have required utility companies to seek competitive proposals for energy procurement. Died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 420 Would allow students to take an extra year off after high school and still qualify for the lottery scholarship. Passed House and Senate, pending governor’s signature.

SB 429 Would have shielded spaceport records from the public records act. Died in Senate Judiciary Committee.

HJR 8 Would create a state ethics committee. Passed House and Senate. Will be on the ballot in 2018.

SJR 21 Would have taken from the state severance tax to fund early child education. Died in Senate Finance Committee. -- 3/21/2017

March 17, 2017

How Proposed IMLS Cuts Will Affect New Mexico Public Libraries  -- Hitchhiker

President Trump’s proposed fiscal year 18 budget includes the elimination of federal arts and humanities programs including PBS, National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Included in this budget is the elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) which, among other things, provides funding to state library agencies across the country.

The New Mexico State Library (NMSL) receives annually around $1.4 million from the IMLS. This translates to $.70 per person, and this money pays for a variety of programs. These programs are... -- 3/17/2017

 

Legislature declares six bills as law, even though governor vetoed them -- KOB News

The New Mexico Legislative Council declared Thursday night that six bills will be enacted into law, even though Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed them.  

The revelation comes after KOB pointed out language to legislators in the NM State Constitution that states the governor is required to return vetoes with "his/her objections." Eight of the governor's vetoes have not included any explanation as to why she disagreed with the bills. -- 3/16/2017

 

Trump’s proposal to strip arts funds alarms New Mexico organizations -- Santa Fe New Mexican

President Donald Trump on Thursday indicated his intention to eliminate longstanding federal arts and humanities programs, sending a wave of anxiety through the New Mexico art organizations, public broadcasters and libraries whose programs would be endangered.

Trump’s proposal would reduce to zero the National Endowment for the Arts’ $148 million budget, the National Endowment for the Humanities’ $148 million budget, the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ $230 million budget and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s $445 million budget. -- 3/17/2017

 

Under Trump budget, NM would see big gains, losses -- Albuquerque Journal

President Donald Trump’s first budget blueprint would dramatically boost 2018 spending next year on military and nuclear weapons programs that account for billions of federal dollars in New Mexico, but it would slash the budgets at a dozen agencies, including the departments of Interior and Agriculture. -- 3/17/2017

 

New Mexico minimum wage bill heads to governorLas Cruces Sun News

A proposal to increase New Mexico's minimum wage for the first time since 2009 is on its way to the governor's desk. The Senate on Thursday approved of increasing minimum wage by $1.50 to $9 an hour. An $8 hourly training wage would apply to the first two months of employment. SB 36 includes no future adjustments for inflation. -- 3/17/2017

 

Governor blames Senate ‘failure’ for vetoes, signs two House GOP billsLas Cruces Sun News

A day after vetoing six pieces of legislation in an apparent burst of anger at Democratic lawmakers, Gov. Martinez on Thursday signed two GOP-sponsored House bills. On Thursday, Martinez signed two bills. HB 29, creates an advisory board to help address a massive sinkhole below the city of Carlsbad that is in danger of collapsing. And HB197, relates to accounting regulations for out-of-state residents.

Negotiations have continued for days between lawmakers and the governor over a final budget without much public discussion. On March 11, the Senate, on bipartisan votes, passed the budget bill, HB 2, and HB 202, which could raise more than $300 million in new revenue depending on which tax hikes Martinez signed and which she vetoed. -- 3/17/2017

 

New bill seeks to boost early childhood educationLas Cruces Sun News

Efforts in the New Mexico Legislature to increase funding for early childhood education did not die Wednesday with the tabling of a constitutional amendment that would have increased the annual distribution from the Land Grant Permanent Fund. SJR 21 was heard Thursday in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Papen said she thinks it still has a good chance of getting through the process before the end of the session at noon Saturday. If passed, and then approved by voters, the legislation would provide an additional $38 million for early childhood education starting in 2019. -- 3/17/2017

March 16, 2017

New Mexico Senate rejects 'right to die' billLas Cruces Sun News

The NM Senate has rejected a proposal that would have allowed terminally ill patients to end their lives with help from a doctor. The Democrat-led Senate voted 20-22 on Wednesday against a SB 252 opposed by the local Roman Catholic Church and GOP Gov. Martinez. -- 3/16/2017

 

Bill banning coyote killing contests clears House committeeLas Cruces Sun News

A measure that would outlaw coyote killing contests for prizes or entertainment has cleared its latest legislative hurdle. The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted 7-4 in favor of the SB 268, which would make it illegal in New Mexico to organize, sponsor or participate in a coyote killing contest. -- 3/16/2017

 

New Mexico may ban minors from indoor tanningLas Cruces Sun News

The NM House of Representatives has voted to ban indoor tanning for people under age 18 and require tanning salons to post notice of health risks. The House on Tuesday approved HB 212 from Democratic Rep. Andres Romero of Albuquerque that would offset regulatory costs with licensing fees. -- 3/16/2017

 

Ethics commission proposal advances in New MexicoLas Cruces Sun News

A proposal (HJR 8) to create an independent political ethics commission in New Mexico is headed to the Senate floor for a vote after winning a crucial committee endorsement. The Senate Rules committee on Wednesday endorsed a constitutional amendment to create a seven-member ethics commission with the authority to issue subpoenas and civil penalties. -- 3/16/2017

 

Bill to lower state drug costs reaches House floorLas Cruces Sun News

A bill by local lawmakers intended to save the state money on prescription drug purchases cleared its final committee hurdle Wednesday and has moved to the House floor. SB 354, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Steinborn and Rep. Joanne Ferrary, both D-Las Cruces, would create a new pharmaceuticals purchasing council to develop cost-cutting strategies for all drug purchases by the state. -- 3/16/2017

 

March 15, 2017

NM Legislature curbs physical restraint of students- Las Cruces Sun News

The NM Legislature has approved House Bill 75 that sets new limits and guidelines for physically restraining school students or placing them in seclusion. The state Senate voted 30-4 on Monday to send the measure to Gov. Martinez, who is likely to sign the bill. -- 3/15/2017

 

NM Senate backs veto override on teacher sick leave - Las Cruces Sun News

The New Mexico state Senate voted to override a veto by Republican NM Gov. Susana Martinez of HB 241 that would have allowed teachers to take more than three days of annual sick leave without being penalized on performance evaluations. If the House also votes to override, it would be the first time in 15 years a NM governor's veto has been reversed. -- 3/15/2017

 

Bill to remove firearms from convicted domestic offenders passes House Judiciary Committee - Las Cruces Sun News

Senate Bill-259, a bill to remove firearms from convicted domestic violent offenders, sponsored by Senator Joseph Cervantes and Representative Javier Martinez, passes New Mexico House Judiciary Committee 9-4 with less than a week left in the legislative session. -- 3/15/2017

 

Senate Bill 340 is temporarily tabled - Las Cruces Sun News

Senate Bill 340, sponsored by Senators Morales, Wirth and Rue, was temporarily tabled yesterday in the Senate Finance Committee.  The bill would make further Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) spending for NM Unit permitting or implementation contingent upon providing the following information to the legislature:  (1) demonstrate that the proposed NM Unit project is technically feasible, (2) quantify the amount of water the project could produce and who would use it, and (3) provide an engineering estimate of the project’s cost and a plan to pay for it. -- 3/15/2017

March 14, 2017

New Mexico tops latest unemployment list -- Santa Fe New Mexican

While the labor market in most of the United States has heated up, a stagnant New Mexico economy has left the state with the nation’s worst unemployment rate.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Monday that New Mexico’s jobless rate for January was 6.7 percent, up from 6.5 percent a year ago. New Mexico’s unemployment numbers have remained stubbornly high even as conditions continue to improve elsewhere. The national rate stands at 4.8 percent. -- 3/14/2017

 

March 13, 2017

G.O.P. Health Law Insures Fewer People, Nonpartisan Review Shows -- New York Times

The House Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would raise the number of people without health insurance by 24 million within a decade, but would trim $337 billion from the federal deficit over that time, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said on Monday. -- 3/13/2017

 

Proposal to take more for early ed clears House - Las Cruces Sun News

HJR 1, a proposal that would allow the state to draw a greater amount from New Mexico’s land grant permanent fund to pay for early childhood education cleared the House of Representatives on a 37-32 vote Wednesday night. The constitutional amendment now heads to the Senate with just over a week to go in the session. -- 3/13/2017

 

Senate passes $1.50-a-pack tax hike on cigarettes- Las Cruces Sun News

Smokers in New Mexico would pay an additional $1.50 a pack in taxes under a bill passed by the Senate on a 24-16 vote Wednesday. Senate Bill 231 also would increase the taxes on cigars and would include e-cigarettes in the tobacco tax for the first time. Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, said the bill would benefit the state by both raising new revenue for schools and reducing the number of smokers, thereby improving the health of New Mexicans and reducing health care costs to the state. -- 3/13/2017

 

Senate passes bill to increase funding for public schools- Las Cruces Sun News

The New Mexico Senate today passed legislation by a vote of 24 to 16 to provide public schools a needed funding increase of $89 million per year by increasing the state’s cigarette tax by $1.50.  SB 231, would direct the new revenues to strengthen New Mexico’s K-12 classrooms, which have been hit with cuts worth tens of millions of dollars. The new revenues are needed to prevent looming cuts of 5% to 7% across the board to K-12 classrooms and higher education institutions without any new revenues. -- 3/13/2017

 

Gun bills get traction in open-carry New Mexico CapitolLas Cruces Sun News

Gun regulations in New Mexico such as: SB 259 and  SB 283 may soon be rewritten in ways designed to avoid shootings in domestic violence disputes and to end free-wheeling firearm rules at the state Capitol. Other bills like: HB 50 would place new restrictions on the sale and possession of firearms are inching their way through the Democratic-controlled Legislature as lawmakers near adjournment March 18. -- 3/13/2017

 

New Mexico lawmakers reject higher renewable power mandate - Las Cruces Sun News

A proposal to ramp up renewable energy requirements at New Mexico's investor owned utilities and cooperatives through the year 2040 has been voted down by a Senate committee on SB 312, ending chances for approval this year. The Senate Corporations Committee voted 5-3 Friday against a plan to gradually increase the share of electricity generated from solar, wind and other renewable sources to 80 percent of supplies for utilities. -- 3/13/2017

March 9, 2017

Sen. Morales' bill to combat car theft passes key committeeLas Cruces Sun News

Senator Howie Morales (D-28 Catron, Grants, Socorro) Wednesday passed legislation with bipartisan support through Senate Judiciary Committee to combat car theft in New Mexico. Albuquerque is experiencing the worst car theft numbers in the nation. Senate Bill 139 will enable a partnership between businesses and police to quickly identify stolen cars when they are sold to salvage and recycling centers and find the criminals responsible. -- 3/9/2017

 

Senate passes $1.50-a-pack tax hike on cigarettes - Las Cruces Sun News

Smokers in New Mexico would pay an additional $1.50 a pack in taxes under a bill passed by the Senate on a 24-16 vote Wednesday. Senate Bill 231 also would increase the taxes on cigars and would include e-cigarettes in the tobacco tax for the first time. Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, said the bill would benefit the state by both raising new revenue for schools and reducing the number of smokers, thereby improving the health of New Mexicans and reducing health care costs to the state. -- 3/9/2017

 

New Mexico governor approves broadband expansion bills - Las Cruces Sun News

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has signed two bills, HB 60 and HB 113 designed to extend high-speed internet access to the farthest reaches of the state. One bill signed into law Wednesday by the governor creates a "dig once" policy that ensures broadband conduit can be inserted underground any time trenches are dug to access utility lines. -- 3/9/2017