April 28, 2015

Mayors press governor to call special session (Updated)

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The drumbeat for a special session continues, as nearly 100 mayors from across the state have signed onto letters calling on Gov. Susana Martinez to call legislators back to the Roundhouse.

RoundhouseThe mayors of cities, towns and villages signed the letters penned by the New Mexico Municipal League. The first stated that a special session is necessary for “a capital outlay bill that is acceptable to both chambers and the executive.”

“We are under no illusion this will be easy—but it is vital,” the first letter continued. “We have confidence that this is possible and that the leadership and members of our legislature share the best interests of the communities we all serve.”

A capital outlay bill in the regular session failed to pass before the end of the legislature adjourned. Both chambers passed their version of the legislation, though the versions were wildly different. The House version passed with just minutes to go before the end of the session.

The House had changed the bill significantly the day before the end of the session. Democrats in both chambers disagreed with the changes.

The first letter was signed by 51 mayors and the second was signed by 44 mayors, bringing the total to 95. In all, the New Mexico Municipal League has 105 member cities.

“It’s not often when all the municipalities show their support for a single issue, as indicated by the signatures of their Mayors,” the second letter by New Mexico Municipal League executive director William F. Fulginiti says. “Investment in New Mexico, jobs in our cities towns and villages are important to all of New Mexico.”

Copies of both letters are available at the bottom of this post.

Names signed on include Richard Berry of Albuquerque, Ken Miyagishima of Las Cruces, Javier Gonzales of Santa Fe and Greggory Hull of Rio Rancho. These are the four largest cities in the state, and the only cities with populations over 50,000.

It is unclear if the legislators are close to a deal that would show capital outlay legislation could pass in a special session. Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, is the head negotiator for the Senate Democrats and he told the Santa Fe New Mexican late last week that he had not spoken to any members of the House that week.

The New Mexico Association of Commerce and industry raised the possibility of including a tax cut package in the special session.

ACI was one of the business groups calling for a special session and pressure has been on for weeks.

The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce raised the possibility of a special session for issues like third-grade retention and right-to-work. This was before the end of the session.

Martinez has only called one special session in her time in office; that was in 2011 when the Legislature was tasked with redistricting. Martinez ultimately vetoed the redistricting proposals, leaving the courts to draw the final lines.

Update:

The Senate Democratic caucus sent out a press release saying that negotiations are ongoing.

“All the participants of these discussions on capital outlay today recognize that for a special session to be successful, the Legislature and Executive must overcome the conflicts that led to the failure of the capital outlay package in the first place,” Smith said. “We still have differences and, while it would be advantageous for the Legislature to pass and the Governor to sign a capital outlay bill, those differences might be insurmountable. But we will try.”

“Our caucus is willing to support a special session if an agreement can be reached,” Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, said. “We hope the current negotiations will be successful because there are thousands of jobs at stake across New Mexico, and that is our top priority. If an agreement is reached, I anticipate we could finish our work in about a day.”

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