The following is the prepared text of Gov. Susana Martinez’s 2017 State of the State Address. Lieutenant Governor; Senate President Pro Tempore; our new House Speaker; Democratic and Republican leaders; esteemed members of the New Mexico Legislature; honorable members of the judiciary; former New Mexico governors; tribal governors; distinguished guests; the State’s first gentleman, my husband, Chuck Franco; my beautiful sister, Lettie and, my fellow New Mexicans. It is an honor to join you for the State of the State Address and open this legislative session. Related: Martinez calls for unity
Over the last six years, Republicans and Democrats have chosen to make tough decisions. We’ve resisted taking the easy way out.
Democrats officially took back control of the state House of Representatives Tuesday when Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, was elected Speaker of the House by acclamation, without the need for a vote from members. Republicans put forward, in a symbolic gesture, Don Tripp, R-Socorro, as their choice for the post. Tripp declined the nomination. Egolf thanked the former speaker for his service. Tripp then received a standing ovation from those in the chamber in both parties.
Gov. Susana Martinez will give her seventh State of the State Address today as the legislative session kicks off. It will be Martinez’s final 60-day session. Thanks to New Mexico PBS, you can watch the whole thing from home livestreaming below. The legislative session is schedule to begin at noon, with Martinez’s address coming afterward.
A wave of national outrage buffeted New Mexico last summer after state game officials tracked and killed a black bear that had attacked a marathon runner on a trail in the Valles Caldera National Preserve. Although the runner believes the bear was protecting its nearby cubs, New Mexico law since the 1970s has required the killing of wild animals in such cases so the brains can be tested for rabies. Now, a proposal to be considered by the state Legislature — developed with the help of the marathoner — would amend state law to give officials more leeway in evaluating circumstances of a wild animal attack and whether an animal should be killed. House Bill 109, sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos, would require officials to consider certain factors before making a determination about a wild animal that has bitten or otherwise potentially exposed a person to rabies. Those factors include the animal’s species, the animal’s potential for exposure to rabies and whether the animal had exhibited symptoms of a rabies infection.
A legislator from Santa Fe County is proposing to close a loophole in the state’s campaign finance law that allows state lawmakers to accept campaign donations while they are in session. State law bans state representatives, senators and candidates for the Legislature from raising money from Jan. 1 until they adjourn. But the statute only prohibits soliciting contributions. It says nothing about legislators accepting money.
State Rep.-elect Daymon Ely remembers the precise moment when he decided to run for a seat in the House of Representatives. He said he realized that his son, who’s in Savannah, Ga., studying to become a video game designer, would never have the opportunity to return to New Mexico because of the poor economy. “That kid can get a job anywhere else,” Ely said. “That just made me crazy.” So Ely, D-Corrales, began a yearlong campaign for office.
Santa Fe is about to become the most powerful city in the Legislature. Presumptive House Speaker Brian Egolf and new Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth both are Santa Fe Democrats, Anglo lawyers from the city’s east side. When Wirth was elected to the Senate in 2008, Egolf was elected to represent Wirth’s old district in the House of Representatives. Both have strong liberal voting records and both have chaired the committees that deal with the environment and energy in their respective chambers. Conservation Voters New Mexico, which for years has maintained scorecards for lawmakers, gives Egolf a 98 percent lifetime rating.
As New Mexico lawmakers prepare to convene for the 2017 legislative session — Gov. Susana Martinez’s final 60-day session — probably the most common words spoken at the Roundhouse by legislators, staff, lobbyists, reporters and other Capitol regulars are some version of “Here we go again.” Another session. Another budget crisis. More partisan head-knocking. More harsh rhetoric.
New Mexico legislators start their 60-day session Tuesday with plenty of unfinished business, including closing a projected budget deficit of about $67 million. But any hope that the passing of a rancorous election year and the ongoing budget crisis would inspire bipartisan compromise already seems to have evaporated. Instead, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and top lawmakers have staked out positions that almost guarantee a clash over taxes and spending. In addition, more budget cuts are likely, no matter the outcome. Martinez proposed easing the projected deficit by requiring public employees to pay for a bigger share toward their pensions.
Near the end of his announcement for mayor last weekend, Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis took a shot at the city’s public school district, saying it needed “radical repair.”
“I believe now is the time to deconstruct this large unaccountable school district and replace it with smaller, more accountable school districts,” Lewis said at the business incubator ABQ Fat Pipe, which is located in the old Albuquerque High School building. “As your mayor, what I’ll do is lead the charge to fundamentally change education in our city.”
With more than 95,000 students in the school system, APS ranks as the 31st largest public school district in the nation—outsizing the public school systems in bigger cities like Detroit, San Francisco and Boston. Lewis is making the idea of breaking up the school district a part of his mayoral platform. To do so requires action from the state legislature. State Rep. David Adkins, R-Albuquerque, could be the lawmaker that takes on the issue this legislative session, which starts next week.