January 29, 2016

Odds and Ends: Fair Pay walkout, abortion bill gets message

—In an apparent protest to a memorial highlighting fair pay for women, two House Republicans left the floor during a vote on the legislation. Memorials do not enact any law, but are generally used to draw attention to a person or organization. House Memorial 39, sponsored by Rep. Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, declared today Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Day in honor of Lilly Ledbetter, a women’s equality activist and namesake of the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. After Rep. Debbie Armstrong, D-Albuquerque, introduced the memorial in Chasey’s absence, Armstrong requested the House vote unanimously on the memorial, a common occurrence for this type of legislation. Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, objected to voting unanimously and requested a roll-call vote, most likely to show who did or did not vote. When it came time to vote, Herrell and Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell, walked off the floor, marking themselves absent from the vote. The memorial passed unanimously among those who stayed on the floor to vote.

—Gov. Susana Martinez has given the green-light a bill attacking another controversial issue during a budget session: abortion. On Thursday, she told the House that they can consider a bill that would require a doctor performing an abortion to “take all medically appropriate and reasonable steps to preserve the life and health of a born alive infant.” Sponsored by Reps. Rod Montoya, R-Farmington and Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, the bill requires doctors to resuscitate “an infant who, whether or not the umbilical cord has been cut or the placenta is attached, and regardless of whether the expulsion or extraction occurs as a result of natural or induced labor, cesarean section or induced abortion, shows any evidence of life.”  The House Health Committee is scheduled to hear the bill on Tuesday.

—Three committee assignments is usually seen as a death-knell for legislation. The Senate gave a number of high profile House bills three committee assignments. These include expanding the Three Strikes Law, allowing charges for each image of child pornography, and the high profile driver’s license bill. Republicans slammed Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez for this. “This cynical procedural move is him killing the legislation,” House Majority Whip Alonzo Baldonado, R-Los Lunas, said. “He is standing up for child predators and not for New Mexico’s children.”

—The Senate Finance Committee did not meet on Friday. “I noticed that when we’re not meeting, the price of oil and gas seems to improve,” committee chair John Arthur Smith said. The committee will not meet until Monday, so maybe oil futures will improve before then. They closed at just over $33 per barrel after trading on Monday.

—An old gripe about redistricting came back to the surface on Friday. Rep. Eliseo Alcon, D-Milan, was speaking about how difficult redistricting is and said he was working 12-14 hours each day on it.

“I remember some people form the other party saying they were off playing golf,” Alcon said.

Yes, some Republicans did go and play golf during the redistricting special session in 2011.