Date: February 17, 2022
The New Mexico 2022 Legislative session will be remembered for historic spending levels totaling $8.5 billion, an intoxicated legislator, and an unsuccessful power grab.
Getting into the Roundhouse required masks, proof of triple vaccine shots and no guns were allowed. If the requirements were meant to keep many people away, it was more than successful. One Christian church managed to host a weekly Bible study in the Roundhouse this year.
Five groups protested at the Roundhouse. They were young Planned Parent protegees chanting “Our bodies – Our Choice,” environmentalists saving the planet from fossil fuels, the teachers union, Native Americans and the Pro-Lifers.
The annual Sanctity of Life mass was held at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis and a Pro-Life rally brought 200 of the faithful to Santa Fe. At the rally Pro-life legislators reported on the roadblocks they experienced in attempting to move forward any Pro-life legislation.
The Voting Rights bill (SB8/144) Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver wanted you and the legislators to believe:
1. Any sixteen-year-old is as smart and mature as you are and should have the right to vote and cancel out your vote.
2. Everyone in New Mexico will live in the same place forever, and so developing a permanent absentee voter list and sending ballots to that address over and over again is a good idea.
3. If you’ve committed a heinous crime and didn’t get away with it, your voting rights should be restored once you get out of jail.
4. Accepting ballots through Friday night, three full days after an election, is a good idea.
5. Putting ballot drop-off boxes everywhere is an even better idea.
When the Governor proposed SB8/144The Voting Rights bill, it seemed impossible to stop – but stop it did. The Republicans implemented seldom used but allowable tactics such as requiring all members of the chamber to be present to vote on the bill (Call of the Senate/House) and the filibuster. Senator Bill Sharer spoke non-stop for two hours at the end of the session to disallow a vote on SB8/144.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham began the session with a State-of-the-State message calling for a transformative session. Her priorities were a new Hydrogen Hub, raises for everyone including herself, and radical changes in voter laws. Most of the Governor’s legislation fizzled. Police and Teachers were the real winners with retention bonuses for police and $50,000 starting salaries for teachers. Also, the Social Security tax on middle-class families was dropped.
A Daily Morning Prayer Call of the Christian faithful to surrounding the Roundhouse in prayer and covering our Legislators was the work of the faithful.
Finally, at the end of the session, Speaker of the House Brian Egolf announced his retirement. Everyone stood and applauded, some thankful for his service, others thankful for his departure.
God bless the State of New Mexico.
The New Mexico State Legislature’s 2022 session closed today at noon with a filibuster ending in the Senate and the Speaker of the House announcing his retirement in House.
The session will be remembered for a 14% spending increase for a budge ot $8.5 billion made available through oil and gas revenues and the unfortunate arrest of Rep. Georgene Louis here in Santa Fe
The Senate budget was approved early this morning and has been sent to the House for concurrence. The budget includes:
1) a repeal of the State Tax on Social Security tax on Social for middle class tax payers
2) tax rebates in the amount of $250
3) a gross receipts tax cut of a quarter cent
4) teacher starting salary increases with a starting pay of $50K
5) a drop in PayDay loans from 175% to 36%
Major construction projects were approved for such things as improvement at the State Fair in Albuquerque, the Veterans Home in T or C and the reconstruction of the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater on the Indian School campus here in Santa Fe.
The House side approved monies Police retention and recruitment and stiffer penalties for violent offenders and free college tuition for New Mexico Universities.
Despite desperate moves both the block and save SB8, now title the Voter Fraud Bill, it failed to pass. Senator Bill Sharer filibustered the session to a finish disallowed the bill’s consideration.
New Mexico Watchman
The Legislative session ends tomorrow, Thursday, at noon.
The bills that have passed the Legislature and are on the way to the Governor are 1) increased salaries for teachers with starting pay at $50K, 2) removing opioid test kits from the drug paraphilia list to making them legal to possess (deaths as the result of Fentanyl overdoses have skyrocketed in the state) and 3) slashing interest on PayDay loans from 175% to 36%. These bill have passed and await the Governor’s signature.
Regarding Election Reform, Senate Bill 6, was a bill that allocated funds for training election poll watchers and challengers. It was supported by both parties and could have been passed into law.
Senate Bill 8 would allow felons and 17 years the vote, allow online registration with only a Social Security number and would have allowed absentee ballots to be sent ongoingly after only one request. The bill was stopped before debate on a procedural move by Republican
Senate Bill 144 would make it a crime to intimidate poll workers.
Now SB 144 has been amended with all of the above. It is called the Voting Rights Omnibus bill containing all 3 bills, training for election workers, making it a crime to intimidate election workers, allowing 17-year-olds to vote, online registration, and a lifetime of absentee ballots. The Democrats, who are in control of both houses and the Governorship, are hoping to pass the bill in one fell swoop.
The budget remains the big issue in the final hours to include the fate of the Social Security tax.
As per usual, the last-minute deals and compromises will define the 2022 Legislative session.
1. The Voter Rights Bill SB 8 passed the Senate Rules Committee. In addition to allowing felons to vote and absentee ballots forever, the law would allow the ballot to be received for the remainder of the week following an election, up to the next Friday at 7:00 p.m. The bill now goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. With 7 days remaining in the session, final passage seemed unlikely but the fact that the bill has progressed speaks to the political prowess of the Governor and the Democrat party.
2. House Bill 157 The Infant Surrender of Infants Bill, passed two House Committee, Health and Human Services and the Appropriation and Finance Committee. Bringing the bill forward requires its being placing on the House Calendar by the Speaker of the House Brian Egolf. Instead, the bill has been temporarily tabled.
3. SB 67 The Sex Education bill which will facilitate teen abortion without parental consent has received a “Do Pass” from the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee and is a the Senate Finance Committee. It is not on today, Friday’s, schedule. The Committee has 7 Democrats and 4 Republicans on the committee.
4. The Legislature has to produce a budget before the sessions’ end next Thursday. Exempting Social Security and reducing the state’s gross receipts tax is still in play on the Senate side. Reports yesterday indicated the nation is experiencing an inflation rate not seen in 40 years.
The Session ends next Thursday, February 17, 2022.
UPDATE: Today is Thursday, February 10, 2022. A week remains in this Legislative session.
1. The Voting Rights Bill received a “Do Pass” from the Senate Judiciary Committee after the sixteen-year-old vote was removed in a previous committee hearing.The bill allows anyone to register online with only a social security number. It allows 17 years old to register to vote if they are 18 on election day. If you are a felon who completed your sentence, you are allowed to vote. And if you ask for a ballot in the mail you’ll get on in the mail for the rest of your life. The bill closes schools on election day but does not make election day a state holiday. The bill goes next to the Senate for a vote.
2. The House Taxation and Revenue Committee voted to continue the tax on Social Security. Two bills would have given seniors and the disabled the tax break.
The argument for dropping the tax on Social Security is it would give relief to our New Mexico seniors on fixed incomes. The argument against is that it would give the wealthy a tax break. Similar bills remain in play in the Senate. Income to the state from the tax is $118M.
3. The PayDay loan bill that reduces interest rates from 175% to 36% has passed the House. It now goes to the Senate where similar bills are being considered.
4. The 2022 session was to be a “Tough on Crime” session. The first bill to pass the Senate makes it easier for young offenders to get out of prison. The bill ends teen sentencing to life without parole. The bill required young offenders to be eligible for parole after 15 years and in the interim for another 5 years. The bill has passed the Senate and now goes to the House.
New Mexico Watchman
|1. With 117 murders in Albuquerque last year, Legislators came to Santa Fe with a “Tough on Crime” mentality. Ironically the bill that passed the Senate yesterday takes the state in the opposite direction. Senate Bill 43, called the “Second Chance” bill passed the Senate along a party-line vote.|
The bill replaces a life sentence for youthful offenders with parole eligibility after 15 years with a follow-up parole opportunity at 5 years or sooner. Republicans offer a number of amendments including the killing of a police officer. The Democrat-controlled Senate would not accept any amendments and sent the bill to the House.
2. The Hydrogen Hub Bill is the bill that never dies. A third “baby hydrogen bill” has been introduced by the same sponsor, Patty Lundstrom from Gallup.
3. Senate Bill 67, the EXPAND SCHOOL-BASED HEALTH CLINICS, received a “Due Pass” from the Senate Health and Public Affairs committee last week and is the Senate Finance Committee. As of this morning, it has not been scheduled for a hearing. The bill would
allow for medical service to minors including pre-natal and abortive services without requiring parental consent.
4. Senate Bill 132, the bill that would lower Pay Day loan interest rates from 175% to 36%
will be heard today in the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee.
To watch the proceeding go the New Mexico State Legislature website, (nmlegis.gov) click on WEBCAST in the upper taskbar, and search for the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee. Committee
Generally, committee meetings are before or a half-hour after the floor session ends.
New Mexico Watchmanwww.nmwatchman.com
| New Mexico Watchman|