Gov. Susana Martinez rejected a bill that would extend the Solar Market Development Tax Credit in the state—and supporters aren’t sure why. Martinez pocket vetoed the legislation, which means she did not sign the legislation before the deadline on action for bills passed in the final days of the legislative session. Unlike a regular veto, the 18 pieces of legislation that Martinez pocket vetoed do not come with an executive message that says why Martinez did not agree with the legislation. Groups that supported the solar tax credit extension do not know why the bill was pocket vetoed. “We’ve been asking and we haven’t heard a reason,” Sanders Moore, state director of Environment New Mexico, told New Mexico Political Report.
The pressure to have a special session to deal with capital outlay legislation that did not pass during the 2015 regular session is growing. KRQE reported on city of Albuquerque leaders pushing for a special session to address capital outlay, including mayor Richard Berry’s administration. Berry is a Republican and has generally been an ally of Gov. Susana Martinez, also a Republican.“Now as the folks on the ground, the cities and the municipal governments, we’d really love to put that money to work and help employee, drive our economy towards some of these exciting construction projects,” Mayor Berry’s Chief of Staff Gilbert Montano said.The Albuquerque Journal reported on discussions between top legislators in each chamber over what capital outlay legislation would look like.House Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro, said Monday that top legislative staffers are working on potential versions of a new capital outlay bill. “I’m very optimistic we can get something worked out,” Tripp told the Journal. However, Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, another key figure in the special session talks, said no deal has been reached.Smith heading up negotiations for Democrats likely shows opposition to using bonding capacity for road projects.
There won’t be any research into the growth of hemp for industrial purposes in New Mexico anytime soon. Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed legislation that would allow the growth of hemp for industrial purposes on Friday, the final day to act on legislation. Martinez’s executive message said that there were inconsistencies between the bill and federal language that mentions hemp. Senate Bill 94 poses a number of problems as a result of the contradictions it would create between state and federal law. As just one example, federal law classifies tetrahydrocannabinol
as a controlled substance where hemp products designed for human ingestion are concerned.
Gov. Susana Martinez signed into law a bill to end civil asset forfeiture in the state. The signing came on the final day that she could act on bills passed this legislative session and came after a large amount of pressure to sign the bill. In New Mexico, both the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and the Rio Grande Foundation supported the legislation. These two organizations are usually seen as being on the opposite side of ideological issues. The story received national attention in recent weeks including a story in the New York Times.
Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed two pieces of legislation but signed 24 more on Tuesday as the deadline to make a decision nears. Martinez vetoed legislation that would reduce time on probation for those with good behavior. The legislation passed both chambers unanimously. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, told New Mexico Political Report last week he hoped Martinez would sign the legislation, part of the criminal justice reform slate. “The point is to alleviate the stress of the probation department,” Maestas said at the time.
Gov. Susana Martinez’s office announced on Monday that Martinez signed eight bills, including a piece of legislation that would make so-called “revenge porn” illegal in New Mexico. Another bill Martinez signed on Monday is designed to address the shortage of nurses in New Mexico. The new law on nurses, SB 341, passed both chambers unanimously and would expand the number of nurses who could receive financial aid from the nurse educators fund. It will allow those studying for the doctorate of nursing practice to access the funds. Those in support of the bill say that tit will increase the amount of educators for nursing schools in the state, which would make it easier for New Mexicans who wish to become nurses.
One of the biggest stories of the 2015 legislative session was the failure to pass a capital outlay bill. This may result in a special session. The day before the end of the session, House Republicans made major changes to the capital outlay legislation in the House Ways and Means Committee. The next day, the legislation passed the House with less than 20 minutes to go in the session and was never heard in the Senate before the chamber adjourned sine die at noon. The fingerpointing began immediately, with Republicans—including Gov. Susana Martinez—blaming Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, and Democrats blaming House Republicans and Martinez.
A week and a half after the end of the 2015 Legislative Session in New Mexico, two lawmakers are waiting to see the fate of two bipartisan bills aimed at reforming criminal justice laws. The bills passed the legislature and are now awaiting action from Gov. Susana Martinez. Sen. Lisa Torraco, R-Albuquerque, and Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, each sponsored bills endorsed by the interim Criminal Justice Reform Subcommittee. The two lawmakers also co-chaired the committee. Torraco sponsored SB 358, which would allow inmates convicted of nonviolent offenses to enter into a halfway house during the last year of incarceration.
The 2015 New Mexico Legislative Session was marked with partisan divides. Both Democrats and Republicans left the session pointing fingers and placing blame across the aisle. A rare exception to the lose-lose scenario was a Republican-sponsored bill aimed at reforming the state’s Forfeiture Act. HB 560, sponsored by Rep. Zach Cook, R-Ruidoso, addresses a national concern about police seizing money or property from individuals without the conviction of a crime. While the bill passed both the House and Senate without a single dissenting vote, some committee members wondered if asset forfeiture is a problem in New Mexico.
Two Democratic senators who were part of the committee put together by the Senate to inform the governor that the Senate adjourned said Martinez was “furious” at the death of capital outlay and a bill with tax cuts and said she would inform the entire state about what they did. Senators Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, and Howie Morales, D-Silver City, spoke to the press about the experience. Ortiz y Pino likened her to a “dictator who had been thwarted.” The Albuquerque Democrat said the two, along with Sen. Steven Neville, R-Aztec, informed the governor that the Senate had adjourned sine die, and that Martinez was ” threatening ‘the people of the state are going to know what you’ve done. Throwing seniors out of their centers.’