Governor Lujan Grisham wins, loses part of agenda in budget session

Although Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s ambitious voting rights bill appears to have died in the final days of the current legislative session, she welcomed the passage of other priority items on Monday evening. .

These included invoices exempt social security benefits from income tax for many seniors as well as gross state revenue tax cuts and salary increases for licensed teachers.

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“Cutting gross receipts taxes for the first time in 40 years will keep nearly $200 million in the pockets of New Mexicans statewide, and ending the benefit tax Social Security will take an extra burden off the shoulders of older people living on fixed incomes,” she said. in a report.

Lawmakers could send him a record $8.48 billion budget for fiscal year 2023, which also includes increases for state troopers and some government employees, though the State House rejected a Senate version of the bill. bill Tuesday afternoon.

Another of his top priorities seemed to be writhing in the wind after being skewered by a parliamentary move.

SB 8, or the Voting Rights Act, offered many provisions, including a list of permanent voluntary absentee voters, automatically restoring the right to vote of people who have served time for crimes and allowing 17-year-olds to take part in local elections if they turn 18 the following day. general election. (The original invoice had proposed allowing 16-year-olds to vote.)

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Yet he stalled on the state Senate floor after minority Republicans invoked a ‘Senate appeal’ to prevent debate or action on the bill unless all senators are present. , during the weekend.

Republican arguments against the bill alleged that it would allow voter fraud and majority Democrats refused to consider a bipartisan alternative. After Monday passed without resuming debate on the bill, time seemed to be running out to get it to the House before the session ended Thursday at noon.

On Tuesday afternoon, an effort to add some of its provisions to a lengthy amendment to a pollworker safety bill sparked anger among opponents as the final hours of the 30-day regular session of the New -Mexico.

Papen appointed to Colonias board

Former State Senator Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces was back at the Roundhouse Tuesday morning when the Senate Rules Committee unanimously approved her nomination to the Colonias infrastructure board.

Former New Mexico State Senator Mary Kay Papen is seen at a luncheon in Las Cruces, NM on Friday, July 9, 2021.

The organization selects infrastructure projects benefiting southern New Mexico communities designated as colonias, providing grants or loans under the Colonias Infrastructure Act.

“A lot of them lack what they need for roads, water, infrastructure, water, sewage, all those things,” Papen told the Las Cruces Sun-News following the vote. “So it was a very successful operation that took place.”

Papen, a Democrat who served in the state Legislature for nearly 20 years, was a co-sponsor of the Colonias Infrastructure Act of 2010, having made the welfare of these communities the one of his priorities. She left office in 2020 after lose a primary competition to fellow Democrat Carrie Hamblen.

Janice Baca Argabright, vice chair of the board of trustees of Western New Mexico University, was also nominated to the CIB and approved by the committee on Tuesday. She is a former superintendent of Socorro Consolidated Schools and a resident of San Antonio, a designated settlement in Socorro County.

Both nominations were heard by the full Senate, with Republicans and Democrats lining up to pay tribute to Papen’s service to the body, where she had served as interim president. His appointment was confirmed shortly after noon.

“Buy New Mexico”

Governor Lujan Grisham welcomed a bill, led by State Sen. Benny Shendo, D-Jemez Pueblo, State Sen. Harold Pope, D-Albuquerque and State Representative Harry Garcia, D-Grants, which makes changes to the state procurement code to benefit local businesses.

CS39 increases preferences for local contractors bidding on state and local government projects and services, allows Native American-owned contractors to qualify as New Mexico resident businesses.

The bill also renews an existing preference for veteran-owned businesses and allows large companies, with annual revenues of up to $6 million, to receive the bidding preference. The current cap is $3 million.

The proposal expands on the governor’s “Buy New Mexico” initiative, aimed at spurring local economic development by including public companies as a larger share of supply contracts.

Chile agricultural labor incentives

A program to raise wages for Chilean farm workers is included in the budget bill at the request of two state senators whose districts include Doña Ana County.

Chileans sit in sacks during the annual Hatch Chile Festival in Hatch, NM on Saturday, September 4, 2021.

Last August, the governor allocated $5 million in federal funds from the American Plan Act to raise wages for workers at area pepper farms during a labor shortage that left about 1 350 vacancies.

However, the state Supreme Court ruled that dispersing pandemic recovery funds required an act of the legislature, halting the program with $2.2 million remaining to be spent.

State Sense. Crystal Diamond, R-Elephant Butte and Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces sponsored a bill authorizing Chile’s work incentive program with $1 million in funding.

Pieces of SB 8 and SB 6 added to invoice

Republicans cried foul on Tuesday when parts of two other bills, including voting rights bill SB 8, were compiled into a 165-page amendment to SB 144 by sponsors, Rep. State Daymon Ely, D-Corrales and State Senator Katy Duhigg, D-Albuquerque, at SB 144.

The original invoice was a two-page proposal making it a crime to threaten or intimidate poll workers, but with time running out for the session, Ely and Duhigg presented the new bill to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday afternoon .

Greg Sowards votes at the Doña Ana County Government Center on Election Day in Doña Ana County on Tuesday, November 2, 2021.

Notably, SB 8 and SB 6 had been the subject of hours of public comment in previous committee hearings, and Ely said, “There’s nothing new here.” Nonetheless, outraged commentators protested the lack of time to consider the amendment during the virtual hearing.

SB 6 concerns electoral procedures and security.

Additions to SB 144 included provisions that had been controversial among Republicans, including a voluntary permanent absentee voters list and instant restoration of voting rights for those serving felony sentences. It also discusses monitoring containers where voters can drop off ballots, provisions for polling places on Native American lands, and other aspects of each bill.

It was after 6 p.m. when Ely finished going through the amended legislation section by section.

Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, said the amendment wrongly introduces provisions unrelated to the original bill. “The subject matter and the amendment do not embrace the details of the original bill,” he argued, saying it would violate a constitutional provision requiring independent proposals to be dealt with separately. Violations of the rule are known as “logrolling”.

“This amendment goes so far beyond the few pages of the original bill, SB 144, that I believe it crosses the line,” Nibert said.

Committee Chair Rep. Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, in a reminder that bill consolidations occur during the closing hours of these sessions, pointed out that the Senate Judiciary Committee was at work the same day in combining the House’s crime bills into one package.

After the committee voted 9-4 to pass the amendment, the committee proceeded to debate the bill in what could be a long night before the last full day of the session.

This story may or may not be updated tonight. Look for a new roundup tomorrow.

Algernon D’Ammassa can be reached at 575-541-5451, [email protected] Where @AlgernonWrites on Twitter.

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