Lottery scholarship bill deadlocks in committee

The state lottery’s luck may have run out at the Legislature. A House committee on Wednesday tabled a bill that would end a requirement that the New Mexico Lottery turn over 30 percent of the gross revenue of ticket sales for the state’s college scholarship program. The lottery argues that scrapping the revenue requirement would allow it to boost prizes, in turn raising ticket sales and providing even more money for scholarships, which helped defray expenses for some 26,000 students last year. Critics contend the bill would amount to a blank check for the state lottery and mean less money for students. The 8-8 vote by the Appropriations and Finance Committee did not kill House Bill 147.

House panel passes bill to remove pre Roe v. Wade law criminalizing abortion

A Democratic-majority House committee voted along party lines Thursday afternoon to remove pre-Roe v. Wade language in state statute that criminalizes abortion practices. The original state law, passed in New Mexico in 1968, makes “criminal abortion” subject to a fourth-degree felony. It defines “criminal abortion” as any action or attempt at an “untimely termination” of a pregnancy that is not “medically justified.” A medically justified abortion, according to state law, is limited to abortions in cases of pregnancy from rape, incest or when the pregnant woman’s life is in danger. The landmark 1972 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion in most cases across the country, made state laws like this obsolete. Related story: House committee stalls another round of abortion bills

But proponents of the bill to strike the old state statute argue that the state language would go right back into law should the U.S. Supreme Court change Roe v. Wade in the future.

Special session off to a testy start

Even before the House and Senate are scheduled to meet at noon Friday, the high tensions between the two parties was evident, previewing what promises to be a bare-knuckle brawl of a special session. The special session is necessary to fix a budget deficit of over $500 million between the current fiscal year and the already-ended fiscal year. The special session will also feature a handful of high profile crime bills. It was these bills that drew the ire of House Democrats, especially since the bills would be heard in committee hour half an hour after the floor session. “The first thing that this House seeks to do is seek reinstatement of the death penalty.

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.