The House Taxation and Revenue Committee tabled two bills Friday that proposed to eliminate or reduce the state’s tax on Social Security income. Key legislators had previously voiced support for House Bills 29 and 77, and the majority of public attendees who spoke favored it at Friday’s committee hearing. Yet Democratic and Republican legislators alike said they were worried about altering the tax without having a plan to replace lost revenue.
“You can’t have it both ways. Somewhere you have to pay the piper,” said Rep. Jim Trujillo, a Santa Fe Democrat and co-chair of the committee. “Let’s find a way to pay for it so we don’t create a hole in the general fund.”
Arthur Medina would still be able to drive his cherried-out lowrider with Jesus on the front bumper. As the owner of a 1967 Pontiac Grand Prix with a customized “Jesus” plate on the front of his car, the Chimayó man and other classic car owners would be exempt from a bill that would require New Mexico motorists to have a front-end license plate. “Right on, bro,” Medina — also known as Low Low — said Wednesday while sitting outside the state Capitol in his lowrider, which was featured in March 1982 edition of National Geographic. But most other vehicle owners would have to affix a license plate to their front bumper under a bill that passed out of the House Transportation, Public Works and Capital Improvements Committee on a 5-3 vote Wednesday morning. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, a Democrat and former Albuquerque Police Department officer, said the proposal would make it easier for law enforcement to identify vehicles, especially if they’re involved in a crime.
A sinkhole is threatening to swallow part of Carlsbad. In the meantime, it is poised to consume tens of millions of tax dollars. The state House of Representatives voted 70-0 on Monday to send a bill to Gov. Susana Martinez that would take part of the taxes on car sales to pay for the remediation of a brine well that is at risk of collapsing. “This is an absolutely critical bill for averting a disaster in [the] southern part of the state,” said Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad. The 350-foot-wide, 750-foot-long cavern sits beneath two major highways, a railroad, a mobile home park, an irrigation canal and businesses, she said.
Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed a bill to create a speciality chile license plate—but chile lovers will still be able to get a license plate featuring chile without the extra cost of a specialty plate. The new black license plate says in yellow lettering “Chile capital of the world” and has yellow license plate numbers. It also features a green chile pepper in front of a red chile pepper. “With the creation of this license plate, we are sending a strong message that New Mexico is the only chile capital of the world,” Gov. Martinez said in announcing the new license plate. “Not only does chile play a significant role in our state’s culture – it is one of our state’s greatest treasures, and this license plate will let the world know.”
This came after Martinez vetoed legislation that would have created a specialty chile license plate whose funds would have went to educational programs with the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces.
Colorado continues trying to steal New Mexico’s thunder when it comes to chile, for some reason. This time, legislators in New Mexico’s neighbor to the north want to create a special license plate in Colorado for chile growers. The proposal cleared the Colorado House on a voice vote Tuesday. New Mexico’s effort cleared its first committee Wednesday morning. “The Pueblo chile is Colorado’s chile,” Colorado state Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, said on the floor according to a press release.“Our local growers deserve recognition of their outstanding chiles.”
New Mexico state Rep. Cathrynn Brown’s proposal to have a green chile license plate cleared the Taxation and Revenue Committee on a unanimous vote Wednesday morning.
A bill aimed at classifying nuclear power as a renewable energy source in New Mexico stalled Thursday afternoon in committee on a tie vote. House Bill 406, sponsored by Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, would have amended the state’s Renewable Energy Act, which requires energy companies provide a certain amount of electricity from renewable sources. Brown told the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee she didn’t know of any definite plans to bring nuclear power plants to the state, but that she wanted to broaden the options for a “baseload power” to replace coal or gas. Currently, Brown argued, wind and solar energy can only serve as “intermittent” power. “Unless we can get the wind to blow 24 hours a day and the sun to shine day and night, we’re still going to have those intermittent sources,” Brown said.
No issue in the 2017 New Mexico Legislature has drawn citizens to the Roundhouse like the push to expand mandatory background checks on gun sales. People on both sides of the issue have shown up in droves to committee hearings in both the House and Senate to testify about two bills that would require more gun buyers to go through background checks. And lobbyists for out-of-state organizations on both sides of the issue have spent thousands of dollars to push their positions. In fact, according to lobbyist expense reports filed with the Secretary of State’s Office, the biggest expenditure since the session began in mid-January was $44,377 spent by Tara Reilly-Mica, the Texas-based lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. Reilly-Mica’s report, filed Feb.
During the legislative session earlier this year, something very typical happened: an attempt to create an independent ethics commission failed to pass the Senate. NM Political Report wrote about the history of this happening over the last decade. This year’s version was pushed by Rep. Jim Dines, an Albuquerque Republican. Dines’ legislation would have put the question to voters to decide if such a commission should be created under the state constitution. One issue that received pushback was how the ethics commission in Dines’ proposal would have published all of the ethics complaints, even those deemed frivolous, after a review by the commission.
Legislation to create an independent ethics commission passed the House on a bipartisan vote late Tuesday night. Sponsored by Rep. Jim Dines, R-Albuquerque, HJR 5 would create an independent commission to field and take action on complaints made about state officials. Since it is a proposed constitutional amendment, if both the House and the Senate pass the legislation, the issue would go to the voters in November for approval. Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, raised a number of concerns, one of which was how to fund it. “My concern is this could balloon into significant money,” Brown said.
A measure to give New Mexico an independent ethics commission passed its second test unanimously Tuesday afternoon, but not without long debate. The bill, carried by Rep Jim Dines, R-Albuquerque, establishes a body of nine people charged with weighing ethics complaints submitted to them against state government officials, employees and government contractors. Dines, a retired lawyer who in his second year as a legislator, said he supported such a commission long before he became a lawmaker. But he added that his short experience in the Roundhouse also helped shape his bill. “What I’ve learned is, I really think we need this for ourselves,” Dines told committee.