January 18, 2015

A second look at what’s been filed so far

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Roundhouse RotundaNew Mexico’s Legislative session starts in about four days and state lawmakers are still busy prefiling legislation. New Mexico Political Report previously looked at early bills regarding driver’s licenses, minimum wage and right to work legislation. Since then, duplicate bills were filed regarding some of those issues. Here’s a look at what has been filed in January so far.

 Schools

Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos, filed a joint resolution this month that aims to limit class sizes by the 2022-2023 school year. According to HJR 2, class sizes would gradually decrease throughout the next 20 years. The ultimate goal for class sizes under the legislation would range from 18 to 22 students in elementary and middle-school classes. High school class sizes would cap at 25 students.

Another resolution to reform the state’s educational system comes from Rep. Robert “Bobby” Gonzales, D-Ranchos De Taos. His HJR 4 proposes a state board of education that would oversee the Public Education Department.  Currently the Education Secretary is in charge of the education department and is appointed by the governor. In 2010 Gov. Susana Martinez appointed Hanna Skandera to the position but the secretary designate has not been confirmed by the Senate. Gonzales’ proposed legislation would establish a ten-person board and allow for three appointments from the governor. The other spots would be filled through a public election.

Some legislators are also trying to pass bills to change the qualifications of school officials.

At least four lawmakers have introduced bills aimed at changing how teachers can become school administrators. All for those bills also have the word “streamline” either in the title or in the legislation itself.

DWI

New Mexico has had a long and troubled history with DWI  and a long history of legislation relating to DWIs.  Rep. William “Bill” Rehm, R-Albuquerque, has filed a bill intended to add language to current DWI laws. Rehm’s HB 20 specifies illegal substances that can lead to a DWI charge. A retired law enforcement officer, Rehm has tried to pass versions of this legislation almost every year since he became a state representative in 2006.

Two other lawmakers are also trying to change the state’s DWI laws. According to HB 131 from Rep. Tim Lewis, R-Rio Rancho, penalties for DWI conviction would be based on blood alcohol levels instead of the number of previous convictions. Representative Richard, filed HB 86 which would increase the requirements to remove an interlock device from the car of someone convicted of DWI. It would also require an individual to have a device in their home to measure blood alcohol levels at different times.

This year’s session begins on January 20 at 12:00 p.m. in Santa Fe. Lawmakers can continue to file legislation throughout the first half of the legislative session. The deadline to file is February 19.

 

*Note: A previous version of this story had an incorrect start date for the legislative session. The correct date is January 2o at 12:00 p.m.

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