On Jan. 19, legislators will gather in Santa Fe to launch the second session of the 52nd State Legislature.
While the short session is primarily for budget issues, Gov. Susana Martinez will provide messages deeming other legislation germane to discussion this year. Already, some pieces of legislation have been introduced through pre-filing by legislators.
We will be taking looks at pre-filed legislation up through the end of next week and highlight bills that could be a big part of the legislative session and others that just seem interesting.
Yesterday, NM Political Report looked at the bills coming from the House and today we take a look at Senate legislation.
SB 11: Campaign Finance Reporting Requirements by Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, and Rep. James Smith, R-Sandia Park.
Two of the members of the State Legislature who have been pushing for more openness on campaign spending are back with more legislation hoping to clarify and expand what campaigns must report. One thing that many will talk about is the inclusion of a definition for “a coordinated expenditure.” With a number of high profile campaign finance scandals in 2015, maybe 2016 will be the year such legislation moves forward.
SB 13: Solar Market Development Tax Credit Changes by Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Albuquerque, and Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque.
The bill would extend the solar tax credit through 2024; the tax credit would remain at the current ten percent through the end of 2018 and then decrease by one percent annually until it is at five percent in 2025. Last year, Martinez vetoed an extension without an explanation. There is also a House bill, introduced by Barnes.
SB 14: Teacher & Principal Minimum Salary Increases by Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque.
Mimi Stewart is back to attempt to increase the pay for public school teachers in the state. Her legislation would increase pay for Level One licensed teachers to $40,000 by the 2019-2020 school year, Level Two licensed teachers to $50,000 by the 2019-2020 school year and Level Three licensed teachers to $60,000 by the 2019-2020 school year. Even as new teachers have seen increases in pay in recent years, Level Two and Level Three teachers have not seen corresponding raises in pay.
SB 17: DNA Evidence Kit Analysis by Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque.
NM Political Report is among the news outlets to report on the startlingly-high number of untested rape kits throughout the state. This legislation would appropriate $2.3 million per year through 2019 “to hire necessary staff and purchase the materials or equipment necessary to clear the existing backlog” of the kits and to have them processed by the Department of Public Safety.
SB 33: Capital Outlay Planning & Monitoring Act by Sen. Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa.
Another topic with a lot of attention is on the capital outlay process in New Mexico. With this bill, Cisneros would create a capital outlay planning council to create a five year plan, to be updated annually, for capital outlay spending. The council would also create guidelines for capital outlay projects.
SB 39: Improve Educational Outcomes Project by Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City.
Howie Morales’ bill appears to take aim at the “school to jail pipeline” for children with disabilities. It directs the secretary of the Children, Youth and Families Department to create a “research and demonstration project” in two counties that “shall identify and offer services to students under twenty-two years of age” with a priority on those under the age of 14.
SB 41: Create State Inspector General Office by Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque.
Another piece of ethics legislation, this time it would create an independent office of inspector general, which would be part of the legislative branch and would “provide increased accountability and oversight of state agencies to deter and identify fraud, waste, abuse, illegal acts and corruption.”
SB 45: Create Crime of DWI With Minor in the Car by Sen. Lisa Torraco, R-Albuquerque.
This is a relatively simple one; it would create a misdemeanor for anyone driving with a blood alcohol content level over 0.08 percent while an individual under 18 is in the car. With recent tragedies involving drunk drivers, there will be a lot of attention on this and other bills increasing penalties for DWI.
SB 48: Web-Based Capital Outlay Publication by Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque.
It’s probably not controversial to say that the Sunshine Portal is Rue’s most noteworthy piece of legislation that became law. Now he wants to put capital outlay appropriations online including “the amount of the allocation designated by each legislator and the governor.”
SB 52: State SNAP Program Funding by Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe.
SNAP funds (which used to be called food stamps back when there were, well, stamps involved in the program) are always a hot button issue. Rodriguez wants to add $400,000 to the program “for individuals who are elderly or who are living with disabilities.”