On January 20, Gov. Susana Martinez gave her State of the State address. New Mexico Political Report spoke with some lawmakers and the mayor of Albuquerque to get their thoughts. Sen. Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, also responded to Martinez’s outlined priorities. One of his criticisms of the governor’s speech was here repeated use of the word “courage”. “I ask the governor, then, if you have courage, governor, then why don’t you close the gunshow loophole?” Sanchez asked. “Why don’t you put locks on firearms at home?
There are a several topics that seem to come up repeatedly during New Mexico’s legislative session. For the past few years, one of those topics is legislation related to marijuana. In 2007, then-governor Bill Richardson signed the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act which made medical marijuana legal in New Mexico. In 2012, voters in Washington and Colorado voted to legalize recreational marijuana. Since then, some New Mexico lawmakers have been watching New Mexico’s neighbor to the north to see what lessons, if any, can be learned.
New Mexico’s Legislative session starts in about four days and state lawmakers are still busy prefiling legislation. New Mexico Political Report previously looked at early bills regarding driver’s licenses, minimum wage and right to work legislation. Since then, duplicate bills were filed regarding some of those issues. Here’s a look at what has been filed in January so far. Schools Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos, filed a joint resolution this month that aims to limit class sizes by the 2022-2023 school year.
The process of approving gaming compacts in New Mexico can be hard to understand. There is an interim legislative committee assigned to compacts, but it does not operate like traditional committees in the state legislature. Instead the Compact Negotiation Act outlines a process that can resemble legislative tennis. Gaming compacts are agreements between tribal and state governments regarding casino gaming. For New Mexico, gaming compacts outline rules, regulations and how much of a tribes net winnings are paid to the state.
The 2015 legislative session starts in less than one week and some lawmakers are settling into new leadership roles. Republicans hold a majority in the House for the first time in more than 60 years and that means new minority and majority leadership. In addition to the shakeup in the House, former Senate Minority Whip Tim Keller won the election for State Auditor and left his leadership role open. New Mexico Political Report reached out to leadership in both chambers over the last month to find out what they expected this session. *New Mexico Political Report was unable to reach some leaders for comment.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]RICK LASS is a graduate of St. John’s College and a veteran of New Mexico politics. A former Green Party candidate for the PRC, Lass is heavily involved in good government and voting rights issues and runs the blog www.votingmatters.net[/box]
Happily, someone in the main stream is talking about the possibilities of a multiparty system. Blogger Philip Bump has a brief piece in the Washington Post imagining our Congress divided into four parties, based on how current members voted on the recent budget bill. From the article: If we assign members of Congress to political parties based on the spending votes, we end up with four parties.