February 27, 2015

NM Senate panel OKs bill to allow hemp farming for research -- Las Cruces Sun News

Senate Bill 94 to allow New Mexico farmers to grow an industrial version of hemp for research only has passed a third Senate panel. The Senate Finance Committee Thursday approved Albuquerque Democrat Sen. Cisco McSorley's legislation. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act now moves to a vote of the full Senate. The proposal would establish fees and set up state regulations for the processing of hemp for research and development, not for sale. Hemp has a negligible content of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high. Many products made from hemp, such as oils and clothing, are legal. -- 2/27/15


Bill to keep Daylight Savings Time year-round advances in New Mexico Legislature -- Las Cruces Sun News

A Senate committee has passed Senate Bill 377 to keep New Mexicans from springing forward and falling back every year when it's time to adjust clocks. The Senate Public Affairs Committee voted 5-1 Thursday to advance Sen. Cliff Pirtle's bill that would keep the state on Daylight Savings Time year-round. The Republican farmer from Roswell says changing the clock twice a year is an unnecessary inconvenience. He says farmers and ranchers work from sunrise to sundown no matter what the clock says. -- 2/27/15


Bill limiting lottery scholarships and boosting prize fund advances in Senate -- Las Cruces Sun News

Money from the New Mexico Lottery that is dedicated to college scholarships would be limited to a flat amount under Senate Bill 355 that is headed to the full Senate. The Senate Finance Committee voted 7-2 Thursday night for the measure, which is intended to invigorate lottery ticket sales by pouring more money into prizes and advertising. In addition, the bill would clarify that debit cards can be used to buy lottery tickets. The sponsor, Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, declined requests from other committee members to put a provision to allow credit-card purchases of lottery tickets back in the bill. At the request of other senators, Smith removed a section from his original bill that would have allowed credit-card purchases of up to $20 for lottery tickets. -- 2/27/15


Senate to hear bill allowing home delivery of beer, wine -- Las Cruces Sun News

Senate Bill 503 allowing home delivery of beer and wine with food purchases is heading to the full Senate after being resurrected from the dead Wednesday night. Thirty-two states already allow restaurants and companies that make home deliveries of food to offer beer and wine as well, said Justin Greene of Dashing Delivery in Santa Fe. He served as the expert witness for the bill's sponsor, Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque. Ortiz y Pino said the bill would merely create the option for local communities to sell licenses to food companies allowing delivery of up to two six-packs of beer and two bottles of wine with a meal purchase of at least $20. Deliveries could only be made to a residential address or a hotel. -- 2/27/15


New Mexico Senate panel punts on stream commission billLas Cruces Sun News

Supporters of a measure that would limit the authority of a powerful water commission and require more transparency surrounding its actions decided Thursday to go back to the drawing board. After an hour-long debate about Senate Bill 542, sponsor, Republican Sen. Sander Rue, agreed to rework the proposal and return to the Senate Conservation Committee next week. At issue is the Interstate Stream Commission, which has been criticized in recent months over a decision to pursue federal funding under the Arizona Water Settlements Act for a possible diversion project along the Gila River. Supporters say drought-stricken New Mexico has a rare chance to tap a new source of water, but critics argue the effort could end up costing the state and water users in southwestern New Mexico $1 billion. -- 2/27/15


New Mexico bill would create website to help consumers make informed healthcare decisions -- Las Cruces Sun News

The issue is that healthcare eats up 17 cents of every dollar New Mexicans earn and costs keep going up. Many New Mexicans who are now buying health insurance on the open market are getting plans with lower premiums and higher deductibles, making them suddenly conscious of how much health care they must pay for out of pocket. Senate Bill 474, sponsored by Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, and cosponsored by Sen. Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque, would create a "health information system" to help consumers, policy-makers and health plan operators make more informed decisions about when, where and how to access healthcare. -- 2/25/15


New Mexico Senate committee blocks mandatory helmet law for motorcyclists -- Las Cruces Sun News

The Senate Public Affairs Committee voted 4-3 across party lines Tuesday night to block a mandatory helmet law proposed by Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque. Only motorcycle riders and passengers younger than 18 must wear a helmet under existing law. Committee members, on the same 4-3 vote, also defeated Ortiz y Pino's related bill to charge a $692 registration fee to each motorcyclist who rides without a helmet. The fee for helmeted riders is $15. Two Democrats and two Republicans joined together to stop both bills (Senate Bill 308 and Senate Bill 327), saying they couldn't ignore the importance of free choice. -- 2/25/15