Legislative Report Jan. 28, 2020January 29, 2020
Roosevelt County Chamber's
Jan. 28, 2020
Early Childhood Fund Gets Hearing
The Senate Education Committee moved SB 3 forward on Monday after tagging it with an amendment that makes the idea a little more palatable. The bill seeks to establish an endowment fund for use on early childhood programs while the state is swimming in revenue from the oil and gas business. We would have liked to see this initiative wait a year while the new Early Childhood Department gets its legs underneath it and we take care of other needs, including reserves. We think the idea needs more thought and we need to see how oil and gas holds up before making the plunge. At least if it passes anyway the amendment will delay distributions from the fund for another budget year.
Permanent Fund Raid On Again
As it has for the last several years, the House is quickly moving HB 1 that seeks to raid the state's Permanent Fund for use on early childhood initiatives. The bill seeks to change the rate at which money is taken out of the fund by one percent. That's a difference that many investment experts say could endanger the fund's solvency over time. The initiative has easily passed the House the last few years only to be killed in committee by conservative Democrats. Investment has been increased dramatically for early childhood already, let's not endanger future state budgets.
Red Flag Law Gets First Hearing
The Senate Public Affairs Committee heard SB 5 the Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act on Tuesday afternoon. In a rare move the Committee hearing was held on the floor of the Senate Chambers and in an even rarer move the Senate leadership ruled that no firearms would be allowed in the Chambers or gallery. In an open-carry state, taking guns into the Roundhouse is normally allowed. Sen. Stuart Ingle of Portales, a member of the committee, opposed the bill saying that he saw the request for this order as almost a prerequisite in a contentious divorce case. He also said if a person was set on committing suicide they would find a way even if their guns are seized. The committee passed the bill on to the Judiciary Committee on a party line vote.
Recreational Marijuana Debate Begins
The Senate Public Relations Committee also heard another emotional bill of the session, that of legalization of recreational marijuana. After extensive testimony from both sides of the issue the vote was the same as the Red Flag law. Remember, the Senate was where this measure ran aground last session.
Word from NM Senate Budget guru John Arthur Smith is that there will be $387 million available for capital outlay this session. That is a great big slab of bacon.
Dual Credit Program Funding
We learned of another bill of great local interest introduced. HB 172 and SB 37 would appropriate $10 million for dual credit courses. The program is popular in the high schools on the east side of the state and the money would help universities manage the tuition cost of allowing high school students to enroll in college-level courses in high school.
Quote of the Day
A former east-side legislator was quoted in the Santa Fe New Mexican earlier this week in their "Quotes of the Day" section of New Mexico Legislature coverage. “I don’t miss the process. It’s toxic.” — Former state Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Logan, reflecting on his 10 years in the Legislature. Roch, who didn’t seek reelection in 2018, recently was back at the Capitol during a convention of school superintendents. He heads the Logan Municipal Schools.