For the second time this legislative session, a Republican broke ranks with his party to vote down legislation aimed at further regulating abortion procedures in the state. Rep. James Smith, R-Sandia Park, voted against a House memorial asking three state agencies to coordinate reporting when infants who show signs of life outside of the womb after abortion procedures. “If you were bringing a bill banning late-term abortion, I’d be with this,” Smith told sponsor and Rep. Rod Montoya, R-Farmington, in committee. “But this is concerning.”
Smith joined three Democrats Monday afternoon in the House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee in tabling Montoya’s memorial on a 4-3 vote. During debate, Montoya mentioned how the University of New Mexico, which provides abortions during the first and second trimester of pregnancies, likely is not practicing “the particular abortion procedure that is producing born alive infants.”
Smith responded that the Legislature isn’t the correct body to “go after a potential violator” if it didn’t know who the violator was or if a violation was happening.
The House of Representatives Monday late afternoon voted 65-1 to concur with the Senate’s version of the driver’s license bill, bringing the heated issue to an end, at least for now. Only Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, D-Albuquerque, voted against the measure, though she did not explain her vote on the floor. Debate was quick, lasting less than 10 minutes, and featured a few self-congratulatory remarks. “This is a victory for the people of New Mexico,” said House Minority Leader Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe. “Unquestionably it’s a victory for our immigrant community here in New Mexico.”
The bill allows immigrants who are not in the country legally who don’t already have driver’s licenses to qualify for driver’s privilege cards, which don’t work for identification purposes.
Just one day after hammering out a compromise in a key committee, the full Senate overwhelmingly passed the compromise bill, sending it to the House. The legislation is now just one vote from the House away from heading to the governor’s desk. The original sponsors of the bill from the House indicated Friday night the House would support the legislation and Gov. Susana Martinez said that she would support and sign the bill “as is.”
Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, and Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, presented the legislation on the Senate floor late Saturday afternoon as a hard-fought compromise. “We’ve gone five straight years of doing the same thing and people trying to get different results,” Smith said. Ingle said he understands everybody may not be happy with the bill.
Last week, a Republican lawmaker made headlines for siding with Democrats in killing an abortion bill. But in an apparent about-face Thursday morning, that same lawmaker attempted to revive and pass the same controversial bill. “Having voted in the affirmative with the majority, I want to remove [House Bill 275] from the table and make it the next order of business,” Rep. Andy Nuñez said in the House Health Committee. Nuñez was referring to the “Require Medical Care for All Infants” measure that would legally define when infants are “born alive” and mandate emergency medical intervention for them. Nuñez’ motion failed 5-5 in the committee, which is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.
A proposal to allow retired law enforcement officers across the state to return to their old jobs cleared the House floor Wednesday evening after a three-hour debate. The House passed the bill on a 38-29 vote, with five Democrats joining all Republicans present for the vote. Sponsor Rep. Larry Larrañaga, R-Albuquerque, argued that it would solve staffing problems at police departments across the state. He emphasized that several county sheriffs across the state support the legislation, not just the city of Albuquerque and Albuquerque Police Department. Still, he had Albuquerque City Attorney Jessica Hernandez as his expert witness.
A Republican whose vote helped stop a bill aimed at defining “born alive” and mandating how doctors treat “born alive” babies, is staying tightlipped on the thinking behind his vote on Saturday. Rep. Andy Nuñez, R-Hatch, wouldn’t go into detail with NM Political Report on why he broke party lines and voted to table the bill. “It’s just what I was doing,” Nuñez said of his vote. Nuñez wouldn’t elaborate on his vote, but did say he didn’t see the proposal—sponsored by Rep. Rod Montoya, R-Farmington—as an “abortion bill.”
One Republican helped five Democrats kill a bill that would have legally defined when an infant is “born alive” and mandated medical intervention for those infants. Rep. Andy Nuñez, R-Hatch, joined all Democrats in the House Health Committee to table the “Require Medical Care for All Infants” bill Saturday morning after a short debate. The debate followed more than two hours of public testimony on the bill earlier in the week. Follow-up Story: GOP Rep won’t say why he voted against abortion bill
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rod Montoya, R-Farmington, said his measure was meant protect infants who still show signs of life after abortions. “What we’re talking about is the life of a child who is born alive after an abortion procedure,” Montoya told the committee.
Emotional testimony and talk about heated rhetoric preceded a unanimous vote Friday in the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass a bill to put New Mexico in compliance with the federal REAL ID Act on. Lawmakers crowded the table where sponsors sit while presenting legislation, with Senate sponsors John Arthur Smith, D-Deming and Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, crowded next to House sponsors Andy Nuñez, R-Hatch and Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque. State Taxation and Revenue Department Secretary Demesia Padilla also sat at the table. The committee commended Smith and Ingle for working on a compromise bill separate from the House bill that cleared the Senate Public Affairs Committee after extensive changes. “The big, fundamental difference when you really get down to it [is] the ability to opt out of REAL ID,” Smith told NM Political Report after the hearing.
After a marathon hearing, the Senate Public Affairs Committee advanced a driver’s license bill that supporters hope will finally end the problem the state has been facing for years. It didn’t come without controversy, in the form of an extensive amendment to the bill that passed the House, HB 99, to make it essentially a Senate bill, SB 256. It was not a committee substitute, which would require it to go back through committees in the House. But with an amendment, if it were to pass the Senate, then the House and Senate could have a conference committee to work out the differences between the two versions. The SPAC amendment passed on a party-line vote, with Democrats voting for it and Republicans against.
The discussion in Senate Public Affairs Committee on five pieces of legislation related to REAL ID promises to be one of the more interesting discussions this legislative session and we will be liveblogging the whole thing today. The committee will look at legislation to put New Mexico in line with the federal REAL ID Act and address that the state allows those who are in the country illegally to have driver’s licenses. The bills are:
—SB 174: Driver’s License Issuance & REAL ID by Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque. —SB 216: Driver’s License Issuance & REAL ID by Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho. —SB 231: Driver’s License Issuance & REAL ID by Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas.