Only a couple of proposed constitutional amendments make it to voters

Legislators sought to start the process to change the state constitution with several pieces of legislation this year. The proposals sought to place constitutional amendments on the 2024 general election ballot. 

Only two made it through the system: HJR 5, which would extend the property tax exemption for disabled veterans, and HJR 6, which would increase property tax exemptions for honorably discharged service members. HJR 5 extends the property tax exemption, currently only available for those veterans who are 100 percent disabled and their widows or widowers to allow those that are under 100 percent disabled and their widows or widowers to qualify for the exemption. “The amount of the exemption shall be in a percentage equal to the percentage of the veteran’s disability rating determined pursuant to federal law,” the legislation states. Similarly, HJR 6 would increase the property tax exemption for honorably discharged service members and their widows or widowers from $4,000 to $10,000 with an annual adjustment based on inflation.

Legislative session ends on collegial notes

By Robert Nott and Daniel J. Chacón, The Santa Fe New Mexican

In the end, as Dean Martin liked to sing, everybody loves somebody — at least, sometime. That was true in the waning minutes of this year’s legislative session as lawmakers from opposing parties and with markedly different views of political philosophy bid goodbye to one another with hugs, handshakes and fare-thee-wells. Absent was any sense of partisan conflict as legislators, weary after 60 days of debates, decisions and defeats — as well as victories, of course — bid adieu to it all for another year at noon Saturday. In the House of Representatives, there was a more collegial feeling of mutual respect, even if the two parties’ respective legislative goals were often at odds. 

After debating and voting on a broad omnibus tax package that had curved its way through the last week of the session like a hard-to-catch serpent, members of the House took on about six Senate bills, approving them rapidly in the last hours of the floor session. The House benefited from an influx of new vitality courtesy of over 15 new members in both major political parties as well as the energy of two new floor leaders — House Speaker Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque, and House Minority Leader Ryan Lane, R-Aztec.

From left to right: Senate Floor Majority Leader Peter Wirth, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ly. Gov. Howie Morales at a press conference in the Governor's Office Cabinet Room March 18, 2023.

Governor, legislators look back at the 2023 session

Republican and Democratic legislators voiced their thoughts on the 2023 legislative session shortly after it ended on Saturday. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham held a press conference with Democratic leadership from both the House and Senate. Lujan Grisham opened the conference with a note on bipartisanship and the sometimes prickly interactions between the legislative and executive branches. “This is not easy. Solutions take each of our areas of expertise and our priorities and passions and put it together,” Lujan Grisham said.

Lawmakers churn out rush of bills on last full day of session

By Robert Nott and Daniel J. Chacón, The Santa Fe New Mexican

The New Mexico Legislature careened toward a finish late Friday, passing both key and lesser-known legislation while trying to hash out a deal on a massive tax package. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate pushed full steam ahead from mid-morning to night, working their way through dozens of bills as the deadline for legislative passage — noon Saturday — closed in. Many of the issues prioritized by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and legislative leadership this year — the budget, public education investments, water conservation initiatives and codifying a woman’s right to have an abortion — had by this point already found safe passage through both the House and the Senate. In an interview with The New Mexican on the Senate floor around 5:30 p.m., Lujan Grisham appeared in good spirits. She said she walked down to the first floor of the Roundhouse to deliver coffee to Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca, R-Belen, after he gave her a basket of coffee when she joked she’s only allowed to drink “old Folgers” on the fourth floor.

Bill to protect reproductive health care patients, providers heads to Guv’s desk

On the final full day of the 2023 legislative session, the second major piece of reproductive and gender-affirming rights legislation passed the House by a 38-30 vote. SB 13, sponsored by state Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, now heads to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk. The Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Protection Act protects providers and patients from other states’ efforts to subpoena for provider or patient information as part of an investigation into reproductive or gender-affirming care where that activity is not protected. The bill seeks to protect reproductive and gender-affirming care patients and providers from civil or criminal liability and to protect reproductive healthcare providers from discrimination by professional licensing boards. SB 13 is one of two reproductive and gender-affirming rights bills introduced in this legislative session.