February 15, 2016

Odds and Ends: Farm nuisance bill likely to become law

The seal of the state of New Mexico in the House

—A bill that would protect farms from many lawsuits on “nuisance” for expansion and changes of farms passed the House on Saturday and is headed to Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk. The proposal would stop lawsuits alleging nuisance on farms unless they both changed the “nature and scope” of their operation.

“Wow, what a sweeping removal of rights from our fellow New Mexicans,” Rep. Jeff Steinborn, Las Cruces, said.

Rep. Andy Nunez, R-Hatch, said it was a necessary bill.

“Whose rights are we protecting?” He asked. “We’re protecting these rights of these farmers.”

Animal Protection Voters vocally opposed the bill, saying it would create “a nearly impossibly high obstacle to a neighbor’s attempt to find relief from genuine anguish and loss of use of their property.”

An attempt to change it to the “nature or scope” of the operation by House Minority Leader Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, failed.

—The House was rolling along Saturday and passing a bunch of non-controversial bills. All was going well until Rep. Bob Wooley, R-Roswell, brought up HB 93, which fixes a law on preferences for veteran-owned businesses.

As he was presenting his bill, the speaker system suddenly turned into nothing but static. Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro, said he was told they would have to reboot the system, so the House sat in recess subject to the call of the chair until that ended.

After the delay, which lasted over an hour, Wooley again began presenting his bill. And a prankster put static on their microphone.

The House still finished their business and did not meet on Sunday. The Senate did meet on Sunday.

—One of the most frustrating things about the Legislature is the lack of archiving of webcasts. Rep. Alonzo Baldonado, R-Los Lunas, is the latest to take up the baton of changing this, and received a unanimous do-pass from the House, Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee Friday morning.

Baldonado explained that there are 41 states that already have this

One concern legislators had was of the cost, and how long the archives would remain available. Baldonado said he would be willing to limit the time they are available, mentioning two years or five years as possible time periods.

Rep. Jane Powdrell-Culbert, R-Albuquerque, expressed concerns about the videos being used for political purposes, though she ended up voting for it anyway.

Rep. Debbie Rodella, D-Espanola, asked if this could be used in litigation to determine legislative intent.

“They’d be public records,” Rep. Zach Cook, R-Ruidoso, answered. :The Inspection of Public Records Act.”

—A bill that would expand the use of Naloxone, a drug that counteracts overdoses of opioids including heroin, passed the House unanimously on Saturday.

While Rep. Terry McMillan, R-Las Cruces, was the sponsor, Rep. Debbie Armstrong, D-Albuquerque, was one of the bill’s biggest boosters.