A state representative is asking if House rules were broken when a group of legislators secretly met to discuss the budget. Rep. James Townsend of Artesia says a proposal he drafted, which would have restored $41 million to public school reserve accounts, was not given the proper consideration when 10 members of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee met clandestinely late last month to work on a proposed $6.3 billion budget bill and failed to invite him. After learning of the secret meeting, Townsend publicly stated his dismay on the House floor last week before bringing the issue to the Legislative Council Service. He asked that the matter be investigated to determine if his colleagues broke any House rules when they failed to invite himself and other members of the committee. Chairwoman of the House Appropriations and Finance committee Rep. Patricia Lundstrom told reporters that no rule violations were made. She said meeting as a subcommittee was not uncommon, as the smaller groups are required to handle the high workload experienced during a 30-day session. According to Lundstrom, the meetings are not closed, and “anybody who wants to show up can show up.” She also pointed out that these subcommittees do not have the final say in any budget planning, and any recommendations they make must still be approved by the full committee. The budget proposal is now in the Senate.
Lawsuit Attacks State ID Requirements
A class-action lawsuit claims the state Taxation and Revenue Department illegally denied driver’s authorization and other ID cards to those who chose not to apply for a driver's license. The suit alleges that Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration is improperly implementing a two-tier ID system set up in 2016 to allow residents to choose between a federally-approved driver's license that complies with the Real ID Act, or a state-approved driver's authorization card or ID that cannot be used for federal purposes. The lawsuit alleges that the state Taxation and Revenue Department added an extra requirement to “establish proof of identification number” that isn’t present in the law. According to the suit's seven plaintiffs, including former Santa Fe mayor David Coss, an “untold number” of people have been denied IDs because of the illegal requirement.
Knowledge of Medicaid Glitches Undisclosed by State
“Glitches” in a new state Medicaid computer system that caused scores of foster and adoptive children to lose their medical coverage were reportedly discovered by state agencies last year, but were never made public. Last month, the Albuquerque Journal reported that “several glitches” encountered in a new computer system implemented Dec. 1 for the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department and the Human Services Department had caused up to 15 children to lose their health coverage. Last week, emails obtained by the Albuquerque Journal allegedly document conversations between employees of the CYFD, in which responses to the newspaper were discussed as well as the implication that department officials were aware of the glitches since early December. In a follow-up inquiry, a spokesperson for the department confirmed that “under 60 children” have been affected. The agencies are currently in the process of identifying those who lost their coverage due to the glitches.