The House Judiciary Committee heard four legislative modernization proposals during its Saturday meeting.
These proposals seek to amend the state constitution and would require approval from voters.
One would change legislative sessions from the current system of 60-day- sessions in odd-numbered years and 30-day sessions in even-numbered years to instead a uniform 45 day session annually; a competing effort would create annual 60-day sessions. Another would remove the governor’s pocket veto power and one would set up a citizen’s commission to determine what, if anything, legislators should be paid.
The committee heard the 45-day proposal first.
HJR 1 would create annual 45-day sessions instead of the current system and remove the restrictions on bills that may be considered in even-numbered years.
Some who opposed the annual 45-day sessions argued that it was still the same amount of days as is currently done instead of expanding the session to more days.
The committee approved HJR 1 on an 8-to-1 vote, with House Majority Leader Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, as the sole vote against.
The committee amended the proposal to have annual 60-day legislative sessions to instead have 60-day legislative sessions in odd-numbered years and a 45-day session in even-numbered years.
“(What is) different in this joint resolution in this time that will enhance the quality of governing that we can do, time that New Mexicans deserve,” Figueroa said.
The last time the legislative session length was changed was in 1964 when it was changed from a 60-day session every other year to the current system of 60-day legislative sessions in odd-numbered years and 30-day legislative sessions in even-numbered years.
Sponsor Rep. Natalie Figueroa, D-Albuquerque, called the amendment “an acceptable compromise.”
The committee approved HJR 5 on a 8-to-1 vote. House Minority Leader T. Ryan Lane, R-Aztec, voted against the proposal.