Legislative Report Feb. 5, 2020
Roosevelt County Chamber's
Feb. 5, 2020
Legislative Appreciation a Success
The Chamber officers and staff were in "The City Different" Monday and Tuesday to offer our support and appreciation to our area legislators and spread the news about Portales through peanut diplomacy. Our annual Appreciation Dinner that we co-sponsor with the Clovis/Curry Chamber was possibly the best-attended ever with almost 150. All our area lawmakers spoke and were in agreement that spending needs some containment despite the huge budget surplus. We also operated a booth with ENMU staff at the Santa Fe Chamber's Legislative Reception which is attended by legislators and citizens from all over the state. Then on Tuesday we made tracks (literally in the snow) to the Roundhouse where we had Portales' Valencia peanuts sponsored onto each floor and distributed them to the various offices. A good portion of Santa Fe is well aware of Portales Peanuts and ENMU now.
Slow Down Santa Fe
It is pretty apparent that the Democrat-controlled House, Senate and Executive Branch are doing their best to fast-track their agenda while Republicans are doing everything possible to slow down the pace and get fair hearings in committee. The House Minority Leadership has introduced resolutions seeking to force committee heads to give more notice before moving items up for vote. Those efforts have been tabled in committee, which by the way, Republicans would like to see those tabling votes more in the sunshine so that constituents can see where legislation was killed. It's not quite the Rocket Docket we saw last year but Democrats have such an aggressive agenda they realize they have to move fast to avoid leaving too many bills on the committee tables.
Budget Bill Debate Today
It looks like the budget bill HB2 will be debated on the House Floor this afternoon. The bill would see an increase in spending of 7.5 percent with 26 percent in reserves. The GOP Leadership has made a counter-proposal of 4.3 that keeps department budgets flat and would rebate $200 per resident in taxes. There is very little chance of much, if any, of the Republican proposals will be adopted. Expect the bill to get sent on to the slightly more conservative Senate side with few amendments.
Education Efforts Still in Flux
The Governor's proposal for an Opportunity Scholarship that would provide free college to all residents was initially nixed by committee but as the budget debate progresses, House Minority Leader Jim Townsend says he expects it to be added back to the budget in some form. We think the Governor's proposal could bode poorly for ENMU as students with a free scholarship might simply elect to attend larger schools in the state. Fortunately tuition isn't really the main factor in sending a student off to college and lawmakers are aware of that.
The Greyhound Promise scholarship, which provides free tuition to education students attending ENMU has a bill sponsored by Rep. Phelps Anderson that would provide $300,000 for the program which was first seeded last year. Graduates have to promise to work in New Mexico schools for three years.
Red Flag and Marijuana
The Red Flag bill SB5 will be before the Senate Judiciary Committee today where a close vote is expected. Passing there it would move to the Senate Floor, where another fight would ensue. Opponents of the bill numbering an estimated 400 were on the Roosevelt County Courthouse steps last week with a rally. The rally made headlines across the region. Here's a shot of the crowd sent by a local flying a drone.
Recreational Pot Alive, Short on TIme
The recreational marijuana bill proposed by the Governor is bogged down in committee but isn't dead. If this is to eventually pass maybe it will be in a 60-day session where we get the details right.
Other Bills Tracked
Roosevelt County Manager Amber Hamilton passed on some legislation to us that the County is tracking that could be bad for the County and for small business. SB110 would remove local unions from the picture and have union representation interacting with the state. HB45 seeks to increase the retiree healthcare fund which could negatively impact local government budgets. Finally, HB25, which had its first committee hearing this week would increase HR benefit costs to businesses and government while providing more protections to families with pregnancies.