New Mexico’s 54th Legislature wrapped up Thursday amid congratulatory hugs and news conferences — a veneer of good cheer that masked a dose of sleep deprivation, early-morning procedural bickering, and finally, sighs of relief as key bills were passed just hours before the final gavel. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Democratic legislators touted the passage of a number of their priority proposals, including the creation of an early childhood trust fund, passing a high-profile firearms bill and shepherding through the state’s $7.6 billion budget for the 2021 fiscal year. “I think this was a really productive 30-day session,” Lujan Grisham said, surrounded by legislators and cabinet secretaries at a post-session news conference in the Roundhouse. “We are building something new together.
Hed: Reproductive justice advocates say abortion ban repeal ‘next year’
Many reproductive justice advocates said their biggest disappointment of the 2020 legislative session is that the 1969 New Mexico law banning abortion is still on the books. But some in the Respect NM Women Coalition, a group of reproductive justice advocates and organizations, say ‘next year.’
“We’re looking forward to repealing the state’s archaic 1969 abortion ban in 2021,” said Joan Lamunyon Sanford, executive director of NM Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. The nonprofit she leads is part of the coalition. While the law is still on the books, it is not currently enforceable because of the landmark Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision. The law is worrisome for many because the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a Louisiana law, June Medical Services v. Russo (formerly June Medical Services v. Gee) requiring abortion clinics in that state to be affiliated with a hospital and have admitting privileges.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham sounded a favorable tone Thursday about exploring the possibility of allowing New Mexico lawmakers to earn a salary. An independent body should take a look at the issue, she said. Speaking at a news conference just after the close of the legislative session, Lujan Grisham said it was difficult for state lawmakers to do their work because most of them don’t have staff. “New Mexico needs to take a hard look,” the governor said. “We make it nearly impossible for people to serve.
Cannabis legislation was not a complete loss for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham during this year’s legislative session, but it was far from a complete win. Despite almost a year of work from a group assembled by Lujan Grisham to come up with proposed legislation for cannabis legalization, the proposal she backed failed early on in the session. The only Lujan Grisham-backed proposal that made it to her desk is a bill that would limit enrollment in the state’s Medical Cannabis Program to New Mexico residents.
During a press conference after the Legislature adjourned on Thursday, Lujan Grisham said she will keep pushing for a safe and comprehensive legalization measure, even if it means changing the state constitution. New Mexico law does not allow for voter initiatives, which is how most states, including Colorado, legalized cannabis. The only way to change law through an election question is to propose a constitutional amendment, and Lujan Grisham said that’s not off the table.
“I’m open to any number of pathways,” Lujan Grisham told reporters.
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SB 139, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, was promoted as a fix to legislation that was passed into law last year.
The 2020 Legislative session finished promptly at noon on Thursday after a week of long nights in debate that resulted in the passage of the number of clean energy bills backed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. However, not every priority passed the legislature this year. Here’s a look at the clean energy bills that made it to the governor’s desk this year, and the ones that didn’t. Solar tax credit: Senate Majority Whip Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, often joked about how many times she sponsored a bill to reinstate the solar tax credit since the credit expired in 2016. “I hate to count how many times the committee’s actually heard [this bill],” Stewart joked with a House committee during the session.
Legislators in both chambers adjourned sine die at noon on Thursday, ending the 2020 legislative session. The at-times contentious legislative session finished with most key bills crossing the finish line and heading to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk, though many bills failed to get hearings in the House because of stalling by House Republicans. The Legislature finished the budget process early Thursday morning, with less than 12 hours until the end of the session. Capital outlay legislation, which provides funding for public works throughout the state, also passed in the final hours of the session. The thirty-day session is focused on the budget; any legislation not related to budget needs to be put on the agenda by the governor to be considered.