Lisa Torraco

Lawmaker says AG is retaliating by trying to kick her off case

A New Mexico state lawmaker is going head to head with the state Attorney General in her private capacity as an attorney. And she thinks it relates back to something from the most recent state legislative session. The Attorney General’s office sought to remove State Sen. Lisa Torraco, R-Albuquerque, from a case in 2nd Judicial District Court. Torraco represents Tyler Danzer in a case where Attorney General Hector Balderas charged Danzer with child solicitation and tampering with evidence. The Attorney General’s office filed a motion last week to remove Torraco from the case, arguing she has a conflict of interest after she advised Danzer to close his email account.

Roundhouse

Gov. Martinez fills two legislative vacancies

Gov. Susana Martinez announced two appointments Friday to fill vacancies created by lawmakers who left the Legislature before the end of their terms.

Martinez appointed former State Rep. James White, an Albuquerque Republican, to fill the vacancy in Senate District 19. Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort announced her resignation earlier this year. The veteran Senator from Sandia Park previously announced that the 2016 regular legislative session would be her last. Martinez highlighted White’s nearly three decades as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. In the House, Martinez appointed a Democrat to fill the House seat of former Speaker of the House Ken Martinez.

Roundhouse

Group scores lawmakers on transparency, ethics bill votes

Common Cause New Mexico, a group that advocates for ethics and campaign finance legislation, released its first legislative scorecard this week. The scorecard is designed to track the legislators’ performance on ethics, transparency and good government bills. Common Cause New Mexico did not name anyone “champions” or “opponents” as other advocacy groups do with their scorecards. Instead, it just shows how legislators voted on five bills in 2015 and six bills in 2016. “The report is in keeping with our pledge that everyone—legislators, lobbyists and advocates—needs to be held accountable for their actions, their votes, their contributions and expenditures,” Viki Harrison, director of Common Cause New Mexico, said.

Photo via Flickr by Erik (HASH) Hersman

SOS won’t say if 17-year olds will be able to vote in primaries

The New Mexico Secretary of State’s office is not saying much about whether some 17-year-olds will be able to vote in the upcoming New Mexico primary elections. During the 2016 legislative session, a bill passed that allows those who will turn 18 before the general election to participate in primary elections. Gov. Susana Martinez signed the bill into law following the session. Still, it is unclear whether the Secretary of State’s office will be ready to accept votes from that age group during the primary on June 7. The Secretary of State’s Chief of Staff Ken Ortiz told NM Political Report in an email that the office is “exploring the legal options to assure the law is implemented appropriately.”

He did not provide an answer to a direct question on whether 17-year-olds would be able to vote in the upcoming primaries.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez speaking to reporters after the legislative session.

Governor’s vetoes show who she doesn’t stand for

Michael Sanchez is the Senate Majority Leader and a Democrat representing State Senate District 29. Vetoes handed out by Governor Susana Martinez at the end of the 2016 Session of the Legislature were fewer than in years past, but they singled out the most vulnerable in our state for harsher treatment than ever before. In previous years there might have been dozens of bills that fell under the Governor’s veto ax. But this year we are talking about Native Americans in the poorest communities, small farmers in rural communities, the developmentally disabled, non-English speakers, and students from low and middle income families who were the target. Let’s look at her vetoes.

Photo Credit: Reinis Traidas cc

Ten biggest vetoed capital outlay projects

Gov. Susana Martinez used her line-item vetoed over 150 projects and $8.2 million from the capital outlay bill (mainly from Democrats). In her signing message, Martinez said that she vetoed any projects of less than $10,000 saying, it is “because I firmly believe that funding (and usually, under-funding) so many small projects flies in the face of how our severance tax bonds should be spent.”

Related Story: Eight bills Gov. Martinez vetoed. There were 16 such projects vetoed; another 14 vetoed projects asked for exactly $10,000, while nine projects for exactly $10,000 survived. However, she also vetoed some larger scale projects. She said that many projects were not fully funded and in other cases weren’t for things the city or county asked for.

Susana Martinez during the 2016 State of the State Address. Photo Credit: Andy Lyman.

Eight bills Gov. Martinez vetoed

The State Legislature passed 101 bills this year and sent them to Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk. Out of those, Martinez vetoed eight with veto messages. Martinez had to decide by Wednesday at noon whether or not to sign or veto legislation. Related Story: Ten biggest vetoed capital outlay projects

Along with the eight vetoed bills, Martinez provided veto messages. We included the intention of the bill and portions of the governor’s message on vetoing the legislation for each of these below.

Roundhouse

Law could cut transparency on lobbyist spending

Lobbyists may end up reporting far less of their spending on lawmakers under a bill lauded for improving the state’s campaign finance system. House Bill 105, signed into law by Gov. Susana Martinez on Monday, aims to make it easier for the public to access information about campaign contributions and lobbyists’ reporting. But the bill also ends a requirement that lobbyists report cumulative spending on lawmakers, and increases the limit for reporting from $75 to $100 per event. The original legislation struck the cumulative total requirement. The House Government, Elections & Indian Affairs Committee increased the reporting limit, a change that made it through two more committees as well as the full House of Representatives and Senate.

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School health clinic cuts final; more may come

Among the many cuts in this year’s coming state budget signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Susana Martinez are $300,000 for school-based health clinics. As NM Political Report wrote earlier this week, the 53 health clinics in public schools across the state funded by the state Department of Health were facing the cuts in the upcoming budget, which Martinez signed into law on Tuesday. The clinics, which are located on school grounds, offer free health care on the spot for children and adolescents, who in New Mexico statistically tend not to receive care. As governor, Martinez has the authority to line-item veto items in the budget, including the $300,000 of cuts to school-based clinics. But when she signed the budget on Tuesday, she left in the cuts to clinics, which while comparatively small compared to other cuts in the budget are still enough to completely shut off state funding for six school-based health clinics.

Gov. Susana Martinez during the 2016 State of the State Address. Photo Credit: Andy Lyman.

Martinez signs budget slashed after low oil and gas prices

A budget that is smaller than the previous year’s for the first time in years is now law. Gov. Susana Martinez signed the budget bill into law on Monday. Martinez did not hold a press conference, but did announce she signed the budget when speaking to a crowd of businesspeople in Albuquerque. The budget is approximately $6.2 billion in all. Legislators originally thought they would have new money to spend, but instead ended up cutting funds because oil and gas prices plummeted and continued to stay lower than originally projected.