January 27, 2016

Odds and Ends: Renewable energy bills and jokes

The seal of the state of New Mexico in the House

—The House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee passed a bill that would extend and expand the renewable energy tax credit on production. The bill passed unanimously, though there were some concerns. Rep. Jeff Steinborn asked for the Taxation and Revenue Department to provide a more robust fiscal impact report. It was described as a compromise bill, and the supporters said that if it was changed, support could fall apart. “I know you all want to leave it as is and I appreciate that. But if we don’t make the Fourth Floor happy, we’re going to have some issues,” committee chair James Strickler, R-Farmington, said.

—On the Senate side, a renewable energy tax credit bill for consumers did not pass the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee. However, that committee tables all legislation with a fiscal impact until they can determine how much money can be spent. The questions were largely from Republican members of the panel. The House version of the bill will be heard in the Ways and Means Committee on Thursday.

—Something that didn’t quite fit in the story about bail reform passing the Senate Rules Committee was Sen. Michael Sanchez saying that they should be talking “about really criminal justice reform across the board.” He said that most of the country is moving away from mandatory sentencing, but NM is going the other direction.

“New Mexico is back in the 1990s, let’s lock everyone up, throw away the key,” Sanchez said.

—The House special investigatory committee will meet on Thursday morning and hear a report from Robert Gorence. The committee will report to the House and disband; they were looking into impeachment of former Secretary of State Dianna Duran, but once she resigned they suspended operations.

—Rep. Bob Wooley, R-Roswell, stopped by the Senate to talk to Sen. Carroll Leavell, R-Jal. He received a warm welcome from Sen. Bill Sharer, R-Farmington, who jokingly called on the Sergeant at Arms to remove Wooley from the chambers, because Wooley was wearing jeans. He was not removed from the floor.

—Sharer got another joke in on Wednesday afternoon in committee. Leavell was in the committee for a bill with an appropriation; Sharer asked why it wasn’t in the budget. Leavell said that he’s been working on getting in House Bill 2. Sharer asked, “Well, don’t you know anyone on Senate Finance?” Leavell, of course, sits on the committee.