• Legislative Update Jan. 22, 2020

    January 23, 2020

    Roosevelt County Chamber's

    Legislative Report
    Jan. 22, 2020
    Session is Out of the Gates
    Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham got things started with the 54th New Mexico Legislature yesterday at noon with her State of the State address. In a short 30-day session where many thought the Governor's biggest problem would be not wanting to leave anything out, she surprised some with what she did leave out of the address.

    No mention was made of putting the so-called Red-Flag law that failed to pass last year back on her call. There was also no mention of the controversial issue of late-term abortion which met a similar fate last session. We're not sure if that means she's wisely holding those issues out of a packed short session or if the shoe will drop later. Either way, those issues haven't gone away and the emotions run high both statewide and locally.

    Budget is Job One
    In 30-day sessions coming up with a budget is supposed to be the main purpose and this year's recommendations submitted by the Governor as well as the Legislative Finance Committee take full advantage of a glut of new money derived from the oil and gas industry. The Governor proposes an increase of 8.5 percent over last year, while the LFC says 6.5 percent will do. Either way they would be record-setting budgets and many fear a spending spree is at hand with elections on deck. The bulk of the state's budget is always education and with our education system under the microscope both budgets would pump even more money on top of record increases last year. The Governor seeks a 4 percent raise for teachers and state workers while the LFC proposal is less. The Governor would also like a large amount of the new money to go to the Early Childhood Department created last session. She also wants an Early Childhood Trust Fund created while there is a surplus. Like everything debated at the Roundhouse, the devil is in the details and there are a lot of details that are really fuzzy right now.

    Recreational Marijuana
    As the Governor promised, she has put legalizing recreational marijuana on the docket for a short session. She pronounced the effort important for economic development, even employing huckster language in her address, "We want to be in on the ground floor, and not playing catch-up." She had a commission study the issue in the interim and some of the direction being talked about now seems to have been improved upon but there are still a thousand places for land mines to hide in this legislation and only 30 days to look for them all.

    Ingle Takes a Few Jabs
    Interviewed by Santa Fe and Albuquerque media following the Governor's speech, Portales' own Sen. Stuart Ingle, Senate Minority Leader, was quick to point out that while the Governor was quick to take credit for the economic growth the state has seen recently she didn't give any mention or credit to the industry that brought that growth and the budget surplus to her feet -- the Oil and Gas Industry. The veteran lawmaker Ingle knows just how volatile those revenues from Oil and Gas can be. He has long advocated restraint where recurring expenses are concerned and a healthy reserve so the state can weather the next downturn.

    Roosevelt County Chamber Legislative Priorities
    This year for the first time in many years the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce board has passed a list of legislative priorities for the session. We've put those priorities into a handy brochure you can print out and have handy at your desk or if you're headed to Santa Fe. If you need more information on these priorities please give Executive Director Karl Terry a call at (575) 356-8541. Download or print a copy Click Here

    Legislative Report is Weekly
    We'll be striving to get a Legislative Report to you each week during the session. This year we are going to put it out early in the week, between Monday and Wednesday depending on what's happening in Santa Fe and in the staff schedule. If you have legislation or issues you're tracking that pertain to business or our area let us know what they are so we can put those issues on our radar scope as well. Call or email Karl Terry.
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