A Senate bill that would increase DWI penalties passed its last stop early Wednesday morning before heading to Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk for a signature. The almost hour long debate on the House floor consisted of one Democrat arguing against increased penalties that are inconsistent with other statutes. Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, said the bill was aimed at punishment when it should be aimed at preventative measures. “We can’t just throw numbers out there and try to out do each other and think we’re going to change anything,” Maestas said. A common theme this legislative session is cracking down on crime through increased penalties.
Legislation that would allow for for judges to withhold bail for defendants who pose a danger to the community, but also waive bail for defendants who are in jail only because they cannot afford it, passed the House unanimously on Monday. The passage came quickly because the House put the legislation on a fast track. In one day, the legislation passed a House committee and the House voted to remove it from another. Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, was the House sponsor and presented the legislation on behalf of the Senate sponsor Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, and told the body of the broad support for the proposal. Supporters included New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Charles Daniels and Majority Floor Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque.
Legislation to create an independent ethics commission passed the House on a bipartisan vote late Tuesday night. Sponsored by Rep. Jim Dines, R-Albuquerque, HJR 5 would create an independent commission to field and take action on complaints made about state officials. Since it is a proposed constitutional amendment, if both the House and the Senate pass the legislation, the issue would go to the voters in November for approval. Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, raised a number of concerns, one of which was how to fund it. “My concern is this could balloon into significant money,” Brown said.
A bill that would change the rate of pay for some state funded public works projects passed the House on a 35-32 vote on Tuesday night after a three hour debate. The bill’s sponsor Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell, said her bill would save the state money by allowing the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions to determine wages for publicly funded school and highway construction projects . House Democrats took most of the allotted debate time to speak out against the bill, citing lower wages if the bill becomes law. Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park, said the cost saving would come at the cost of lower wages for workers. “One thing is going to happen if this bill is passed,” McCamley said.
A newly selected New Mexico Representative may be under legal scrutiny even before she is officially sworn in. After admitting to voting before she was a U.S. citizen, Idalia Lechuga-Tena’s voting history appears to be under review by prosecutors in Bernalillo County. Earlier this week the Bernalillo County Commission voted in favor of appointing Lechuga-Tena to the New Mexico House of Representatives. Lechuga-Tena will be the second person appointed to the seat since the last election. The Bernalillo County Commission chose Stephanie Maez to replace Mimi Stewart last year.
The Bernalillo County Commission voted to appoint Idalia Lechuga-Tena to the House of Representatives to fill a vacant seat in the New Mexico House of Representatives on Tuesday night. Lechuga-Tena, one of three nominees, won by a vote of 3-2. NM Political Report spoke with Lechuga-Tena before the meeting about accusations that she does not live in House District 21 and that she voted when she was not a U.S. citizen in 2003. The vote was swift and there was no discussion from the Commission regarding her qualifications or that she voted in an election before she was a U.S. citizen. Both Republican commissioners, Wayne Johnson and Lonnie Talbert, along with Democrat Art De La Cruz voted in favor of Lechuga-Tena.
Gov. Susana Martinez will jump out of a plane for campaign cash. This weekend, Martinez and her husband—first gentleman Chuck Franco—will take to the skies above New Mexico and skydive for a fundraiser for Speaker of the House Don Tripp, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported Friday. In a time where over a dozen Republican presidential campaigns and even more super PACs are jockeying for money, the leap of faith is one way to cut through the clutter and get attention for a fundraiser. From the New Mexican story:
Tripp’s son-in-law, Lonnie Gonzales, mowed a 450-foot by 450-foot zia symbol that will serve as the landing target in a 20-acre field. An invitation sent to Republican House members says the fundraiser will offer food, entertainment and the first-ever leap from a plane by Martinez and Franco.