The third time was the charm for archiving of webcasts of the House. A House rule change that would allow the archiving of House webcasts passed the House Appropriations and Finance Committee on Thursday afternoon on a unanimous vote. Legislative archiving of the webcasts is currently prohibited. The committee approved a version of the legislation that let the Legislative Council Service put archived webcasts online for up to five years. The committee was well acquainted with the rule change, as Thursday’s hearing was the third time Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, presented the bill to the committee.
A House Committee saw a rare resurrection of a bill from the table, proving that legislation isn’t dead until the legislative session ends. While it is rare, legislation can be pulled off of the table, as happened in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee on Wednesday. The committee decided to reconsider the open government bill. Previously, the committee voted on party lines to table the bill. Republicans opposed the House rule change, while Democrats supported it.
The newly empowered Republican House majority approved a proposal for the upcoming fiscal year’s state budget, over protestations by Democrats who pushed two failed late-hour alternative proposals they said reflected their priorities. Rep. Larry Larrañaga, R-Albuquerque, sponsored the chamber’s ultimately successful budget bill, which totals more than $6.2 billion and includes an increase of $81.7 million over last year. Three hours of debate centered on divisive spending priorities, particularly the House Appropriations and Finance Committee’s apportioning of $36.5 million in new money for public schools. All but $8.3 million of those new funds would be directed toward program priorities of Gov. Susana Martinez and her Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera, many of which have received criticism by teachers and some school district leaders. Larrañaga described his budget measure as “balanced” and “well thought-out,” with increases for road projects, child protective services and higher education endowments, plus $9.5 million more for college financial aid.
The House Appropriations and Finance Committee tabled a proposed House rule that would have archived legislative webcasts. The committee did pass a proposal to webcast interim committee hearings, though stripped the provision that would archive those. The effort failed on a party-line vote with the Republican majority voting to table the legislation and the Democrats voting against tabling the proposed House Rule. Afterwards the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, said New Mexico is behind the times in not archiving webcasts. “It’s just not with the times keeping these meetings not archived,” Steinborn said.
In a bit of unusual parliamentary debate, the Republican House majority voted to blast a bill out of committee, just one day after the chamber approved the committee assignment by unanimous consent. “What a difference a day makes,” Rep. Debbie Rodella, D-Espanola, after the House approved changes to committees of several other bills. Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Logan, started the process to remove the bill from the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, which is also known as blasting. It would take a call of the House and over an hour of debate before the bill was blasted out of committee on a party-line 36-32 vote. The legislation in question was HB 41, a bill that would require any third grade student who could not read at grade-level by the end of the school year to repeat the third grade.