New Mexico Legislators have until Noon Thursday to Deliver Results - Senate Update
The New Mexico legislature has until noon on Thursday to show results on the priorities of the state and to pass a budget. There are 394 separate House Bills, 317 separate Senate Bills, 18 Senate Joint Resolutions, 15 House Joint Resolutions, 56 House Memorials and 12 Senate Memorials for a staggering 780 bills and memorials that have been introduced for consideration in a 30-day session. Before any bill can become law, it must go through the committee process of each chamber, and if amended referred back to the originating chamber to approve changes, and be enacted by both chambers and even then, it could be vetoed by the governor.
The governor has the power of a pocket veto as well, meaning if she does not sign the legislation by March 31st, 2024, it dies and is not certified into law. The governor also has the power of a line-item veto specific to budget matters of which she/he may cross off items that the legislature approved.
Three bills have been enacted into law as reported prior...
The three bills that have been enacted into law include:
HB 1 - the "feed bill" that bill funded the legislative session ensuring legislative staff and per diem are paid to the legislative body. Of course, that passed and was signed into law first and above all other legislation. Signed into law on Jan 19, 2024.
HB 141 which increased pay for the New Mexico Supreme Court and the judiciary. Signed into law February 10th, 2024.
HB 171 The bill maintains the current requirement of 24 units to earn a high school diploma, increases unit requirements in core academic subject areas, requires the development of graduate profiles, requires school districts and charter schools to set two of the required units for graduation, and allows additional courses in career technical education (CTE) and work-based learning to count toward core academic requirements. The bill would go into effect for high school students beginning ninth grade in the 2025-2026 school year. Graduation requirements would not change for students currently in high school. Bill was approved by all the Otero County delegation of Senators Griggs, Burt and Pirtle and approved by House members Block and Madrid. Signed into law Feb 9th, 2024.
The status on other legislation is...
Specific to the 2024-2025 Budget the full budget is still pending...
House Bill 2 and House Bill 3 were combined to form the State Budget. On January 31, halfway through the session, the New Mexico House of Representatives voted 53-16 to send its nearly $10.2 billion 2024-2025 budget spending plan to the New Mexico Senate for approval and further amendments.
On February 11, the Senate Finance Committee approved House Bill 2 which is the $10.22 billion state budget enacted by the House passing the measure on a 9-0 vote with two committee members absent. It now goes to the full Senate for approval. Among the items included in the budget approved by the Finance Committee is the allocation of $220 million from the general fund for road maintenance and beautification. Along with Senate Bill 300, which would add about $527 million, to the total of new money for the two items could be $747.8 million, which would be a record high.
Of notable concern but not being address by the legislature is the sustainability of the state budget. The budget is risky for the long term with the state being reliant upon the Federal government for 1/3 of the budget and oil and gas revenues for another 36% of the budget. With the congress considering mounting an offensive on deficit spending and the eventual slowdown in oil and gas production the legislators must review option to sustain the budget in years to come. Instead, focus has been on guns and social issues but not the priority of the budget for the long-term.
As of Sunday, the Senate has passed the following bills, and they must get through the house in order to reach the governor's desk for consideration...
House Bill 129 establishing a 7-day waiting period on the purchase of a gun. On February 10, the Senate passed House Bill 129 on a 23-18 vote after several Republican amendments aimed at carving out exemptions for military members and people who have orders of protection against another person. House Bill 129 has been amended three times. The waiting period was introduced as 14 days but was changed to 7 days. Also, if the required background check hasn’t been completed within 20 days, the gun seller can transfer the firearm to the buyer. Supporters of the bill said it would help curb suicides and other acts of violence. Other states have also adopted similar waiting periods for firearm purchases. The bill goes back to the House for approval.
Senate Bill 3 known as the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act passed the Senate on February 9 on a 25-15 vote. The bill moves to the House with only six days left in the session. If passed, it will require employees and employers to pay into a state fund that would allow workers to take paid time off when a child is born, for a family emergency, or another kind of medical crisis. Changes discussed centered around the length of time off workers could take. For maternity and paternity leave, employees can take up to 12 weeks off, but a floor amendment shortened the leave period for medical reasons down to nine weeks. The amendment also changed the leave from calendar year to application year to ensure that employees can’t take more than 12 weeks off in a year. Another change on the Senate floor was adding a required 20-day notice when possible. The Senate also expanded the time employees have to pay into this fund before they can apply for paid time off. The original bill only required 90 days but that was expanded to six months.
Senate Bill B15, Health Care Consolidation Oversight Act passed the Senate on a 27-15 vote. This bill would allow the Office of Superintendent of Insurance to determine whether proposed hospital consolidations or mergers could negatively impact health care, excluding state and university owned facilities, for the next year.
Senate Bill 17, Health Care Delivery and Access Act, passed the Senate on a 40-0 vote. This bill would impose assessments on most hospitals in the state and reimburse hospitals with the revenue generated.
Senate Bill 21, amended, Local Firefighter Recruitment, passed the Senate on a 36-0 vote. This bill would appropriate $35 million to a new program the legislation would create within the Department of Finance and Administration focused on firefighter recruitment.
Senate Bill 37 (committee substitution) Meat Inspection Act passed the Senate on a 38-0 vote. This bill would create a new office; the Office of Meat and Poultry Inspection Director and give the New Mexico Livestock Board the authority to “ensure the safety and quality of meat and poultry” for consumption, according to the bill’s fiscal impact report. It would also require NMLB to inspect approved meat slaughtering, processing or manufacturing facilities.
Senate Bill 88, Electronic Driver’s License Credentials passed the Senate on a 38-0 vote as we previously reported. This bill would allow the Motor Vehicle Division to give out electronic driver’s licenses.
Senate Bill 106, Declaration of Independence Anniversary, passed the Senate 38-1 vote. This bill would set aside $150,000 for a state semi quincentennial commission to plan and put on celebrations for the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, which is July 4, 2026.
Senate Bill 108, amended, Distribution to Election Fund, passed the Senate on a 41-0 vote. This bill would create a new distribution from the tax administration suspense fund to the state election fund, with a maximum transfer amount of $15 million.
Senate Bill 116, the Tobacco Fund is not a Reserve Fund passed the Senate on a 38-0 vote. The tobacco settlement permanent fund would be removed from the general fund reserves by this bill. The fund was created in 2000 as part of an agreement between the state and big tobacco companies, according to the New Mexico State Investment Council. The bill’s fiscal impact report states removing the fund would allow it to “be invested with higher return targets.”
Senate Bill 127, known as the Professional Psychologist Act Changes passed the Senate on a 36-0 vote. The bill would give licensed psychologists with a special type of certification to prescribe and administer injections for psychotropic drugs as well as intramuscular and subcutaneous injections. It would also change the structure of the Board of Psychologist Examiners and the committee which reviews complaints against prescribing psychologists.
Senate Bill 129, Cybersecurity Act Changes, passed the Senate on a 37-0 vote. This bill would amend the Cybersecurity Act, including adopting more cybersecurity rules and standards.
Senate Bill 128, amended, State Fire Retirement, passed the Senate on a 37-0 vote. This bill would add state fire members to a renamed coverage plan and increase service credit by 20% for state fire members in service on or before June 30, 2013.
Senate Bill 135, Step Therapy Guidelines, passed the Senate on a 38-2 vote. This bill addresses step therapy and prior authorization. It would regulate how insurers can require patients to use preferred or less expensive medications before moving on to non-preferred or more expensive medication, regardless of health insurance.
Senate Bill 241, Aging Department Background Checks, passed the Senate on a 32-6 vote. This bill would require employees and volunteers with the Aging and Long-Term Services Department working in adult protective services, the long-term care ombudsman program and consumer and elder rights to undergo criminal history records checks. Selected applicants would also have to undergo background checks.
Senate Bill 142, Behavioral Health Facility Notification, passed the Senate on a 39-0 vote. This legislation would not allow residential behavioral health facilities to admit patients without trying to get family contact information for patients, so patients could notify their family of admission.
Senate Bill 151, committee substitute, Premium Tax to Emergency Services Fund, passed the Senate on a 35-0 vote. This bill would send an additional $11 million to the Emergency Medical Services Fund.
Senate Bill 148, Tax and Fee Admin Fees passed the Senate on a 34-0 vote. This bill would remove administrative costs and fees withheld by the Taxation and Revenue Department for administration of local government revenues by fiscal year 2029. The fees would continue on certain distributions.
Senate Bill 161, committee substitute, Acute Care Facilities Subsidies, passed the Senate on a 37-0 vote. This bill would appropriate $50 million to provide subsidies for 12 hospitals in rural parts of the state.
Senate Bill 175, Law Enforcement Fund Distributions, passed the Senate on a 39-0 vote. This bill aims to recruit and retain law enforcement officers, correctional officers, and probation and parole officers.
Senate Bill176, Athletic Competition Act Changes, passed the Senate on a 20-16 vote. This bill would change the Professional Athletic Competition Act to add fighter weight classes and increase annual licensing fees for certain license types. It also would redefine some media terms.
Senate Bill 190, DWI Act, passed the Senate on a 26-8 vote. This bipartisan legislation would add new DWI sections to the Motor Vehicle Code, including addressing penalties, fines and jail sentences.
Senate Bill 201, Transportation Regulation, passed the Senate on a 35-0 vote. This bill would clarify transportation duties the New Mexico Department of Transportation holds, removing outdated technical language and making technical corrections.
Senate Bill 216, NMFA Affordable Housing Projects, passed the Senate on a 34-0 vote. This bill amends the Finance Authority Act to provide financing for affordable housing projects and amend the local government planning fund to provide financing in order to develop affordable housing plans and flood maps.
Senate Bill 217, Severance Tax Bond Fund Distributions, passed the Senate on 34-0 vote. The bill would provide for a minimum distribution from the severance tax bonding fund to the severance tax permanent fund every year for nine years.
Senate Bill 236, Metro Development GRT Increments, passed the Senate on a 20-9 vote. This effort would impact the procedure for determining gross receipts tax increments paying for metropolitan redevelopment area projects, including allowing new, approved construction in determining the gross receipts tax base.
Senate Bill 239, Lottery Scholarship Changes, passed the Senate on a 30-5 vote. This bill would change the definition of a full-time student who’s eligible for the lottery scholarship and count summer semesters.
Senate Bill 300, Transportation Project Bonds, passed the Senate on a 37-0 vote. This bill would allow for up to $205.8 million in bonding capacity from the severance tax bonding fund and $247 million in state transportation bonds to support certain road projects.
Senate Joint Memorial 2, amended, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Task Force, passed the Senate on a 30-0 vote. This joint memorial would codify the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relative’s task force.
Senate Joint Resolution 16, County Official Salaries, passed the Senate on a 37-0 vote. This joint resolution proposes to amend the state Constitution to remove the cap on county officers’ salaries. If it gets through the House side of the Roundhouse, it goes to voters in the November 2024 election or, if applicable, the next special election.
Stay tuned as we see which of these proceed through the house in the next few days!
- Mica Maynard at the Roundhouse watching and reporting on the last-minute scramble...
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