Politics Newsletter: session’s end is nigh

Hello fellow political junkies! We have reached the 2024 legislative session’s final days. Which means if they never heard the legislation you were following in the House or Senate, then sorry, maybe next year. Highlights (or is that lowlights?) from this year’s session included a Saturday House floor session on Feb. 3 that lasted nearly […]

Politics Newsletter: session’s end is nigh

Hello fellow political junkies!

We have reached the 2024 legislative session’s final days.

Which means if they never heard the legislation you were following in the House or Senate, then sorry, maybe next year.

Highlights (or is that lowlights?) from this year’s session included a Saturday House floor session on Feb. 3 that lasted nearly 16 hours with three pieces of legislation passed and another rolled due to the late hour.

The bill ended up passing the House the following Monday after minimal debate and a few Democratic representatives calling out their Republican colleagues for what appeared to be coordinated stalling.

The main reason for the session was passing a budget and tax omnibus bill, both of which seemed to fade into the ether of seemingly endless gun law debates.

Gun laws were on everyone’s minds following Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s executive order declaring gun violence a public health emergency last September. She even set up a public safety legislative agenda that included bipartisan legislation proposed by Senate Minority Whip Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, which failed to make it out of the committee process.

Brandt voiced his dissatisfaction about that during the Senate Floor session on Feb. 3 when a bill to implement a 7-day waiting period on firearms purchases that narrowly passed the House was sent to only one Senate committee.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved that bill, HB 129, on a party-line vote Feb. 7 and it passed the full Senate on a 23-to-18 vote Feb. 10.

-Nicole Maxwell

Budget goes to Senate floor

The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved the state budget during a Sunday meeting.

HB 2 appropriates $10.18 billion in spending for the budget, which is a 6.5 percent increase in recurring funds from the previous year.

The Senate Finance Committee adopted an amendment Saturday that added some technical updates.

The SFC unanimously approved that amendment and HB 2 itself Sunday.

HB 2 passed the House on a 53-to-16 vote on Jan. 31. If it passes the Senate it has to go back to the House to address the  changes made by the Senate before it can be sent to the governor.

-Nicole Maxwell

Bill to create Climate, Energy and Water division tabled

The House Appropriations and Finance Committee tabled a bill that would have created a Climate, Energy and Water Division within the state Economic Development Department on Friday on a 9-7 vote.

Several environmental advocacy groups opposed HB 9, which they said could lead to state money being spent on false solutions such as carbon capture and hydrogen.

Rep. Anthony Allison, D-Upper Fruitland, expressed concerns about grants being given to emerging technologies, which he said is just a fancy way of saying experimental technologies.

He spoke about the legacy pollution on the Navajo Nation from extractive industries including uranium mining.

He said he supports economic development, especially in light of the coal mine closures.

“I want my people to go back to work, but I want my people to work safely,” he said.

Allison was one of the representatives who voted to table the legislation.

Hannah Grover

Water projects

The House of Representatives passed a bill on a 64-0 vote Friday evening that authorizes spending from the water projects fund on 65 projects that impact 55 entities. These projects have already been vetted by the Water Trust Board.

Some examples of projects in this year’s legislation include a flood prevention project in Albuquerque and two watershed restoration and management projects in Torrance County.

HB 148 now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Hannah Grover

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force 

A joint memorial to establish a permanent missing and murdered women and relatives task force in the Department of Justice Office passed unanimously by a 5-0 vote in the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee on Thursday.

The joint memorial is now waiting to be heard in the House.

SJM 2, sponsored by state Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, would, if enacted, reestablish a missing and murdered women and relatives task force. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham disbanded the previous task force last year after it issued a report. Majority Floor Leader Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, said the task force will provide ongoing recommendations to the state DOJ, formerly known as the Attorney General’s Office.

–Susan Dunlap

2024 New Mexico Primary Elections

In election news, A federal appeals court ruled Feb. 6 that former President Donald Trump does not have immunity for crimes allegedly committed while he was a sitting president, namely his alleged crimes committed in a bid to overturn the 2020 election.

More on that from CNN.

Also in Trumpworld, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the disqualification case on Feb. 8 delving into the intention and modern meanings of the 14th Amendment’s Disqualification Clause.

The U.S. Supreme Court has not released an opinion on the case yet. 

The New Mexico Primary is set for June 4 with the 2024 General Election day being Nov. 5.

The 2024 Primary Election Contest/Candidate List is available through the Secretary of State’s Office.

For more information about elections contact your local county clerk’s office which can also help you check on or update your voter registration, a process that can also be done online at NMVote.org.

Local and county meeting schedules

Contact your local county or municipality to make sure the meetings are going ahead as scheduled since meetings are sometimes changed due to the holidays.

Tips, subscriptions and more info

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