April 6, 2017

Martinez signs, vetoes dozens of bills; the highlights

Andy Lyman

Susana Martinez during the 2016 State of the State Address.

In a press release Thursday, Gov. Susana Martinez announced that she signed 66 bills and vetoed 28 bills. Even with the 94 bill actions, there are still 126 bills she hasn’t taken action on yet—including next year’s state budget and a revenue package passed by the Legislature.

Martinez has said she would veto the budget and revenue bill and call legislators into a special session to pass a new budget that doesn’t raise taxes. She has until Friday to take final action on bills passed in the recent legislative session.

Update: Martinez took action on more bills Friday. See our posts: Martinez veto of tax package, large parts of budget pave way for special session and Banning guns for domestic abusers vetoed, conversion therapy ban signed among Martinez actions.

Here are some of the key bills that Martinez signed or vetoed on Thursday.

Senate Bill 393, Vetoed

A bill that advocates say closes a loophole in lobbyist reporting will not become law.

See more in a New Mexico In Depth post about the veto, reprinted at NM Political Report with permission.

House Bill 370, Signed

The governor signed into law the bill to make naloxone, which reverses opioid overdoses, more available. The bill, among other things, provided for law enforcement agencies to provide officers with naloxone kits, along with education on overdoses and how to use the drug. It would also provide for those released from prison or jail with a substance use disorder to be given two doses of naloxone, a prescription for the drug and education on its use.

All would be subject to supplies and funding.

Martinez actually signed this bill in a public signing ceremony in Albuquerque.

Senate Bills 474 and 475, Signed

Untested sexual assault evidence kits have been in headlines for more than year with lawmakers, district attorneys and the New Mexico State Auditor highlighting the backlog of untested kits.

For the past two legislative sessions, lawmakers have approved additional funding to get through the backlogs around the state. According to recent data, the majority of the backlogs are in the Albuquerque metropolitan area. While rural areas were able to send untested evidence kits to the Department of Public Safety’s laboratory, police in Albuquerque relied on their local labs.

Now that Martinez signed SB 474, sponsored by Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, kits in the Albuquerque area can be sent to DPS for testing until 2021.

Senate Bill 475, also sponsored by Stewart, will require all law enforcement agencies to put procedures into place for how to process evidence kits. Law enforcement agencies will also now be required to process them in a more expedient manner.

Both bills come as the State Auditor highlighted a lack of procedures across the state and a large backlog in the Albuquerque area.

House Bill 125, Vetoed

House Bill 125 would have established a 33-member council to create a new teacher and principal evaluation system. Martinez vetoed the bill, saying it would duplicate “the years of work the Public Education Department has done with the collaboration of teachers, the Legislature and policymakers.”

House Bill 175, Vetoed

House Bill 175 would have restricted certain types of solitary confinement in jails. The bill, which passed both the Senate and House with bipartisan support, would have prohibited jails and prisons from confining pregnant women, teenagers or inmates with severe behavioral health issues.

In her veto message, Martinez said the bill “oversimplifies and misconstrues isolated confinement.”

She added that some minors are sentences to adult correctional facilities and can still pose a serious threat to guards.

“If such an inmate poses a threat to, or actually engages in a pattern of harmful behavior toward the inmate, other inmates, or staff, HB 175 would prevent the correctional facility from utilizing restricted housing for this inmate,” Martinez wrote.

Sponsor Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, criticized the veto in a statement.

“The governor’s veto of this compromise legislation will mean that New Mexican taxpayers will continue to pay millions of dollars in settlements for over utilizing an outdated and inhumane jail management tool,” Maestas said.

Senate Bill 227, Vetoed

Senate Bill 227, introduced by Sen. Jeff Steinborn, would have required the state to consider the cost-benefits of installing renewable energy services on its roughly 700 state-owned buildings. The measure was designed to cut energy costs for state-owned buildings and also reduce fossil fuel emissions. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 36 to 4 and the House, 44 to 19. In her message, Martinez wrote that the bill does not provide the resources necessary to implement the plan.

Senate Bill 409, vetoed

Introduced by Santa Fe Democratic Senators Peter Wirth and Brian Egolf, Senate Bill 409 would have required the state to consult with local municipalities before building or completing a state project, and to meet municipal or local government historic oversight standards.

House Bill 24, Signed

Introduced by Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, the State Trust Lands Restoration Fund, creates a remediation fund to address surface damage and watershed restoration and remediation projects on New Mexico state trust lands. Under the bill, one percent of the state trust’s revenues will be directed into that fund. The bill was supported by State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn. It passed both the Senate and House unanimously.

House Bill 266, Vetoed

The bill would have removed an exemption from the occupancy tax on rentals of fewer than 30 days from an entity that didn’t offer at least three rooms.

The bill appeared aimed at AirBnB, the service that allows homeowners to rent their homes out for short-term rentals. While it wouldn’t have provided as much money for New Mexico as places like New York City or San Francisco, it would have still provided extra money for the state.

In vetoing the bill, Martinez said that such rentals “help[] bring more and more people to see what New Mexico has to offer.”

She said that it would allow people to “rent a room, cabin, casita or other property from a private owner” when other “traditional hospitality establishments are booked solid, or when someone wants a different experience” from a traditional hotel.