February 18, 2016

Odds and Ends: Bill to regulate Uber passes Senate

Uber app, Albuquerque

—See below for all of the stories published on Wednesday.

The end of the session is always the busiest time for the Legislature, since there is nothing that encourages people like deadlines; it’s just human nature.

—A bill pushed by Uber and Lyft passed the Senate early Thursday morning.

Uber app, Albuquerque

Uber app, Albuquerque

Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, said that it combines his work with House sponsor Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque, the insurance industry, trial lawyers and others.

An amendment by Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, that would put taxi companies under the same regulations as these transportation network companies failed narrowly.

McSorley said that it would put taxi companies out of business.

“This is the lie of Uber. Uber said, ‘Oh this is the new economy,’” McSorley said. “But anybody can compete in the new economy. In New Mexico, we’re being told that nobody can compete except for Uber.”

Sen. John Ryan, R-Albuquerque, said that Uber was one of the best anti-DWI programs out there.

The bill passed 33-5. It now heads back to the House for concurrence.

—A Senate bill that would increase penalties for driving while intoxicated passed the Senate floor on Wednesday night.

Comments after the bill passed on a 34-2 vote shed some light on what New Mexicans may see in the upcoming election. Majority Floor Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen explained why he voted against the measure.

Blue Lights“I know how this is going to be used in the future and I’m not afraid of it,” Sanchez said, referring to likely future political attacks.

As he has in previous committee hearings, Sanchez said the state needs to see more treatment options.

“We really don’t put our money where it needs to be for treating those problems,” Sanchez said.

Munoz came to the defense of Sanchez and said he admired the floor leader for voting against the measure.

“The first person who sends out a mailer,” Munoz said as he pointed to Sanchez. “I will be by his side.”

—On Wednesday, the Senate said goodbye to Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort, R-Sandia Park. The Senator is not running for reelection.

“You really are a giant for your love of New Mexico,” Lt. Gov. John Sanchez said.

Sen. John Pinto, D-Gallup, is the elder statesman and most respected member of the Senate who rarely speaks on the floor. He said that the Senate would miss Wilson Beffort.

“I wish you luck, my sister,” Pinto said.

“This is a good time for the Senate,” Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, said. “We are recognizing someone here who has been so important to all of us.”

“She is a fighter for all of us,” Ingle added.

“We might be able to get you back for another session before you retire,” Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming said (threatened?).

“Those of us who have served together have a real blessing that we get to look back upon,” Wilson Beffort said.

—The House had their own pseudo-filibuster. But it was nothing compared to what Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, pulled off on the Senate floor. Cervantes spoke for just under an hour describing a proposed amendment to capital outlay legislation.

After another twenty minutes or so of debate, then Cervantes challenging the decision of the chair on a voice vote on the amendment, the chamber went back to debate on the bill.

And there was no debate on the bill.

Cervantes voted for the capital outlay bill, as did every other member present.

The bill now goes to the governor and her inevitable line-item veto pen.

—A potentially controversial bill passed unanimously. Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, credited Sanchez.

“I applaud him and I appreciate his efforts on this,” Ingle said after the vote.

The bill was HB 270, related to malpractice lawsuits by New Mexicans who go to doctors or hospitals outside of the state.