Legislators were rolling up their sleeves last week, ready to get elbow-deep in the greasy bill-making process of the 60-day huddle. It happens every other year and yields the most new laws for New Mexico. Before the session even began, plenty of measures were posted in advance. The Alibi will bore into the insides of the session and pick out the most interesting bits for you here every week. But first ...
The days of rebates and state budget windfalls are behind us. As the Legislature prepared to head into the session on Tuesday, Jan. 20, it was facing a $450 million budget deficit.
The Legislative Finance Committee drew up a list of Gov. Richardson's projects to shelve, which could save a few mil here and there. On the list: a rodeo and horse show venue in Albuquerque (good for $23 million); film production facilities (good for $17 million); and a veterans museum in Las Cruces (good for $1.4 million).
Meanwhile, the guv suggested cutting the state's education budget by $76 million. Schools could save cash by increasing class sizes for a year, according to his plan.
A bill sponsored by Rep. Nathan Cote (D-Las Cruces) would make it harder for domestic violence offenders to become police officers. People who have a domestic-abuse violation will have to wait three years after the incident to apply to become an officer. A law-enforcement officer could lose his or her job if convicted of domestic violence.
Sen. Clinton Harden (R-Clovis) is aiming to nip space travel lawsuits in the bud with his measure. "Commercial human space flight activities involve inherent risks," reads the bill—essentially, "It's space. What do you expect?"
Sen. Bernadette Sanchez (D-Albuquerque) proposed an act that would prohibit smoking in cars when minors are present.
Under this measure sponsored by Rep. Bill Rehm, uniformed, nonsalaried (volunteer?) peace officers could make arrests for misdemeanor traffic violations. (Dwight Schrute, anyone?)
A bill sponsored by Sen. Mary Papen (D-Las Cruces) would name the Pimentel Rising Sun the official state ax. The specially built acoustic guitar sports coral zias and other tributes to N.M. culture and symbolism. It took 14 months to build, according to the Pimentel website.