January 19, 2016

Cig taxes, lottery scholarship and more: Pre-filed legislation from Senate

The legislative session starts today, but already Legislators have introduced hundreds of bills, memorials and joint resolutions.

RoundhouseThe Senate has over 150 such pieces of legislation. NM Political Report took a look at the pre-filed legislation two weeks ago. Now, we will look at the rest of the legislation introduced between then and the end of pre-filing on Friday.

Yesterday, we took a look at the pre-filed legislation from the House.

Legislators can introduce legislation during the session, which begins today at noon, through Feb. 3.

SB 77: Increase Tobacco Products Tax by Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City

Even in an age where increasing taxes has been a taboo among a large portion of the population, so-called “sin taxes” still can be popular. In this case, Morales seeks to increase the tax on tobacco products and send the resulting funds to the Children, Youth and Families Department. Gov. Susana Martinez has vowed not to raise taxes.

SB 85: Review Policies for Institutional Racism by Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque

The bill would have every state agency the “policies and practices to ensure that it does not contribute to institutional racism.” The bill also outlines guidelines for the state agencies on the processes.

SB 90: Delay Corporate Income Tax Rate Reduction by Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque

This is a bill that appears like a direct target on a priority of Gov. Susana Martinez. The bill would basically delay corporate income tax cuts by a year. The odds of such a bill even making Martinez’s desk are dire.

SB 95: Local Option District Spirit Sales Elections by Sen. William Soules, D-Las Cruces

This bill would allow for local option districts to vote to allow restaurants to have licenses that allow for not just beer and wine, but also for the sale of New Mexico-produced distilled spirits. The language just adds New Mexico-produced distilled spirits to existing language for beer and wine licenses.

SB 96: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren by Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Española

The bill would appropriate $100,000 to the Aging and Long-Term Services Department for services to support grandparents who are raising grandchildren. This is something that Martinez has spoken about passionately many times over the years.

SB 103: Expand Lottery Scholarship Eligibility by Sen. William Soules, D-Las Cruces

The lottery is on the minds of many after they lost the Powerball that went over $1 billion (this writer did not buy a ticket… on that one at least). In New Mexico, at least, the lottery funds a scholarship program for New Mexicans who want to go to college immediately after high school. This bill would allow those who start college up to 18 months after graduation to get scholarships.

SB 105: State Police Officer Retention by Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup

The problem of retaining police isn’t just an Albuquerque issue. This bill would appropriate $500,000 per year through 2019 for bonus payments to retain officers. The funds would not be for base salaries, only for bonuses for state police officers.

SB 118: Increase DWI Penalties by George Munoz, D-Gallup

Another effort to curb DWIs by increasing penalties. This one would make homicide while under driving under the influence of drugs or liquor a second degree felony (currently a third-degree felony). But it would also increase penalties for a fourth DWI from 18 months to 30 months, a fifth conviction from two years to three years, a sixth conviction from 30 months to 42 months, a seventh conviction from three years to four years and create a penalty of twelve years for an eighth or subsequent conviction. It would also increase the mandatory jail term for all of these convictions.

SB 121: Out-Of-State Health Care Provider Access by Sen. Stuart Ingle

This bill is born out of the fear that New Mexicans who receive medical services in Texas would be able to sue for substandard care under New Mexico laws. This leads some to fear that Texas healthcare providers would be reluctant to give access. This bill would stop New Mexicans from being able to sue under New Mexico laws governing civil actions against health care providers “for medical treatment, lack of medical treatment or other claimed departure from accepted standards of health care that proximately results in injury to a patient” if the action was done in another state.

SCR 1: Disclosure of Capital Outlay Allocations by Sen. Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque

Currently, unless legislators give permission (which very few are willing to do) the capital outlay projects that they sponsored the allocations for remain secret. Rue, who has been lauded for his open government legislation in the past, seeks to stop this. It would take a two-thirds majority from the membership of each chamber.

SJR 2: Permanent Funds for Childhood Education, CA by Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque

Senate Finance or bust. The bill would tap the Land Grant Permanent Fund and put the money towards early childhood education. The bill has failed to pass the Senate, with the Senate Finance Committee as the killing ground for years. Will this year be different?

SJR 5: Use & Tax of Marijuana & Revenue, CA by Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque

SJR 5: Use, Regulation, Sale & Tax of Marijuana, CA by Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque

Saying it’s an uphill battle might be an understatement. But Ortiz y Pino is back again trying to pass constitutional amendments to legalize marijuana in the state. He has two separate proposals this time. The differences is that SJR 5 would provide that money from the taxes on sales of marijuana would “be used to fund the state’s medicaid program or drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs.” SJR 6 does not specify where the money would go.