Game commission changes passes Senate

A bill that would change how commissioners are appointed to the New Mexico Game Commission passed the Senate on Wednesday on a vote of 34-2. HB 184 would change the commission from seven members appointed by the governor to four members appointed by the Legislative Council and three appointed by the governor. The bill was amended in two Senate committees, which means that it must return to the House of Representatives for concurrence. HB 184 is intended to decrease the political nature of the game commission and to create more stability. Under the bill, the commissioners would serve six year terms.

The bill comes as the New Mexico Game Commission has not had seven members in years and, in February, reached the point where there were not enough members to form a quorum to meet.

Acequia disaster relief bill heads to governors desk

A bill that would allow funding from the Acequia and Community Ditch Fund to be used for disaster response passed the House of Representatives on a 64-3 vote on Wednesday. SB 176 now heads to the governor’s desk. 

Rep. Gail Armstrong, R-Magdalena, attempted to amend the bill to include a three-year sunset date. But, Rep. Susan Herrea, D-Embudo, said it is a small fund of $2.5 million annually that has to be used by more than 700 acequias. Herrera presented the bill to the House of Representatives. Rep. Rod Montoya, R-Farmington, argued that the use of the fund for disaster response should be revisited in three years to ensure that it does not deplete the fund.

Rep. T. Ryan Lane

House responds to tweet about House minority floor leader and his son

With the session winding down with days to go, members of both parties in the New Mexico House of Representatives spoke in solidarity with House Minority Leader Rep. T. Ryan Lane, R-Aztec, during a Wednesday floor session following a March 8 tweet referencing Lane’s introduction of his son on the floor. Evan Lane spent his 17th birthday at the Roundhouse being honored by his father Rep. Lane on March 8. “Now he’s a very special, special young man and I know I’m biased because I’m his father, but I want to share a bit about the transformation that he’s done in the last couple years,” Lane said. 

Evan started working out and getting into wrestling two years ago, the elder Lane said. “Growing up as a kid, (Evan was a) very sweet, young man, great personality, very funny, not very athletic, not very motivated, if I can be frank for a minute,” Lane said. “About two years ago, he decided he was going to change things in his life… he’s found a tremendous amount of self discipline, to the point where he started getting up a few times a week in the morning around 5 a.m. Wake himself up, go workout, got into wrestling and it’s been very inspirational for his mother and I to see that kind of self-motivation and self-transformation that’s taking place within him and I know it will serve him well for the rest of his life.”

ProgressNow New Mexico* Energy Policy Director Lucas Herndon was watching the floor session that morning and made a Twitter post referring to Lane’s introduction of his son on the House floor on March 8 as “toxic masculinity.”

Lane spoke to the NM Political Report about the tweet.

Senate confirms Romero to lead PED

By Daniel J. Chacón, The Santa Fe New Mexican

The Senate unanimously confirmed the appointment Wednesday of Dr. Arsenio Romero as Cabinet secretary of the Public Education Department, the fourth person to lead the agency under the administration of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “I’m here for the long haul,” Romero, a longtime educator, said during his initial confirmation hearing before the Senate Rules Committee. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to take on this challenge, and we’re going to steer this ship in the right direction,” he said. Senators lauded Romero as the right man for the job.

Forest Conservation Act updates heads to governor’s desk

A bill that would amend the state Forest Conservation Act heads to the governor’s desk after passing the Senate on a 36-0 vote on Wednesday. Sen. Pat Woods, R-Broadview, said the current Forest Conservation Act contains language that conflicts with state and federal policies. HB 195 would update that statute. He said the changes will allow the State Forestry Division to work to improve the health of the forests and to restore the watersheds and to do post-fire recovery work. “More than 35 years have passed since the last updates to the statute.

Bill to protect reproductive health care providers, patients heads to House floor

With just days left before the end of the 2023 Legislative Session, the House Judiciary Committee passed a bill to protect reproductive health care providers and patients in New Mexico. 

The committee passed the bill on y a 6 to 2, party line vote. SB 13, sponsored by state Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, appeared to stall earlier in the session but now heads the House floor. The bill must be heard and pass the House before 12 p.m. Saturday to reach Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk this year. The bill would, if enacted, protect both providers providing reproductive healthcare and patients seeking it in New Mexico. The bill would codify Lujan Grisham’s executive order last year so that the protections currently in place will remain so regardless of who is governor.

Campaign finance updates fail in House

The House voted down a bill sought to modernize the Campaign Reporting Act. SB 42 sought to simplify campaign reporting compliance for some elected officials and to provide more sunshine on campaign finances. The bill failed on 33-36 vote. Legislators debate portions of the bill that would change the way loans to candidates from family members would be reported. There were questions about how the difference between a loan from a family member to help fix a home issue such as plumbing or roofing was different from a loan toward the candidates campaigning. 

There was also discussion about the restricted times during legislative sessions when a legislator may receive a donation through the mail but not cash it until after the legislative session concluded.

Transfer of transportation regulation from PRC to NMDOT heads to Governor’s desk

A bill that would transfer the transportation regulatory duties from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to the New Mexico Department of Transportation is headed to the governor’s desk. SB 160 passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday and the Senate concurred with the amendments made to the legislation later the same day. Those amendments were made in the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee. Sen. Steve Neville, R-Farmington, explained the amendment to the Senate on Wednesday evening. The amendment changes the date of the change to July 1, 2024 from Jan.

Power plant, mine remediation bill heads to governor’s desk

A bill that would increase state oversight of the cleanup and remediation of the San Juan Generating Station and the San Juan Mine passed the Senate on a 31-0 vote on Tuesday and now heads to the governor’s desk. Sen. Shannon Pinto, D-Tohatchi, described HB 142 as a prevention measure that would allow the state’s Energy, Mineral and Natural Resources Department and the New Mexico Environment Department to hire consultants who would conduct an independent comprehensive assessment of the site and report the findings to the legislature. “This will not prescribe what will be done after the independent comprehensive study is performed, but it does require oversight and enforcement to be determined based on the findings of the independent assessment,” Pinto said while presenting the bill to the Senate. She spoke about a sediment pond at the power plant and concerns in the community that there could be an incident leading to a breach of the pond. The Senate passed the bill with no debate.

Bill to provide free menstrual products in schools heads to Guv’s desk

A bill to make menstrual products available for free in all public schools will now head to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisahm’s desk. HB 134 passed the Senate Tuesday night by a vote of 27-13. State Sen. Leo Jaramillo, D-Española, a bill sponsor, spoke of period poverty, which is when low-income women and girls struggle to afford menstrual products and the additional burden for individuals to purchase menstrual products. The bill passed after a small amount of debate. State Sen. Gregg Schmedes, R-Tijeras, questioned the part of the bill that requires that one boy’s bathroom in every elementary, middle and high school in the state will include a dispensary carrying the products.