March 17, 2017

House attempt to override veto of teacher absences bill fails

House Republicans defeated an attempt to override a veto by Gov. Susana Martinez on a bill relating to teacher absences. This means Martinez’s veto remains in effect.

The Friday vote to override Martinez’s veto failed on a 36-31, party-line vote. The vote would have needed 47 votes to succeed.

Earlier this month, Martinez vetoed a bipartisan bill that allow teachers to take 10 days of sick leave before effecting their evaluations. Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, brought up the vote to override. Trujillo was a sponsor of the bill.

“This bill is important to every single teacher in our state and to every family,” Trujillo said before the vote.

“If we vote for this, might there be political consequences? Yup,” Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park, said. “On me too. But sometimes you just have to do the right thing.”

“We’re trying to override the governor’s veto on five percent of a teacher evaluation system…I don’t think that’s right,” Rep. Jim Smith, R-Sandia Park said.

Smith, a former teacher, was one of three Republicans to vote against the original bill. Smith said he supported a more comprehensive overhaul of the teacher evaluation system.

That effort failed in committee earlier this year.

Smith was also the only Republican to debate the veto overrule attempt.

Related: Senate votes to override Martinez veto on teacher absences bill

The House originally passed the bill on a 64-3 vote earlier this session. Two Republicans, Reps. Dennis Roch of Logan and Jason Harper of Rio Rancho, were among the sponsors on the bill.

The Senate voted earlier this week to override the veto by Martinez, the first time the Senate had voted to override a veto by Gov. Susana Martinez. The last time a veto override succeeded in both chambers was 15 years ago when the Legislature voted to override the veto of then-Gov. Gary Johnson after he rejected the state budget.

Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, initiated the Senate veto override and defended himself afterward. The senator tweeted, “If overriding a veto is disrespectful then why isn’t vetoing a bill disrespectful to the sponsors? I reject the premise.”

Related: Wirth: Governor’s late message on vetoes means bills will become law

Vetoes have become a big story in the dying hours of the legislative session. Senators said three of Martinez’s vetoes came after the three day limit—which means they automatically become law. And legislators say that Martinez’s vetoes without explanation, as NM Political Report has been tracking, are not valid and so those bills, too, should become law.

And more vetoes are likely.

In executive messages to both the House and Senate, Martinez criticized legislators for not sending her a budget and confirming university regents. The House passed the state budget and sent it to Martinez’s desk, but Martinez could veto the budget.