January 3, 2018

Supreme Court pauses ten laws as appeal over disputed vetoes moves forward

Joe Gratz


The saga of ten vetoes by Gov. Susana Martinez hit another twist. The state Supreme Court said Tuesday a district court ruling invalidating the vetoes  should be stayed until the appeals process is over.

A district court judge ruled last year that the vetoes were invalid and so the bills in question should become law. After this order, the Secretary of State chaptered them into law. Now, in a 3-2 decision, the New Mexico Supreme Court  paused  this order.

The ruling did not look at the merits of the case, which will come later.

Chief Justice Judith Nakamura and Justices Petra Jimenez Maes and Edward Chavez said the district court order should be stayed pending the appeal. Justices Charles Daniels and Barbara Vigil dissented.

The case involved ten bills Martinez vetoed, but failed to provide an explanation, as is required by the state constitution. District Court Judge Sarah Singleton ruled this meant the vetoes were invalid, which meant the bills went into effect.

Martinez’s office appealed the decision in October.

Two identical bills would allow the research into the use of industrial hemp, while another would allow students to use a computer science class as one math credit for graduation requirements.

The bills passed with wide, bipartisan votes before Martinez’s vetoes.

Martinez vetoed five of the bills within the three-day period allowed for legislation passed during the session—but failed to provide any reason why. For five others, she vetoed them on the day she received them, again without explanation. She later issued what the Legislature called “a blanket statement concerning all ten bills without a specific objection on any bills” in a court filing.

Here are the ten bills in question:

  • HB 126, Financial Assistance For Medical Students
  • HB 144, Industrial Hemp Research Rules
  • SB 6, Industrial Hemp Research Rules
  • SB 24, Local Gov’t Broadband Infrastructure
  • SB 64, Public School Capital Outlay Time Periods
  • SB 67, Notification Of TIDD To County Treasurers
  • SB 134, Computer Science For School Graduation
  • SB 184, Horse Racing Licenses, Health & Testing
  • SB 222, “Local Public Body” Exemption
  • SB 356, Notification Of Public Improvement Districts