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Dems concerned about protecting committee process

The Roundhouse in Santa Fe (Photo by Peter St. Cyr)

Many Democrats are expressing concern about the integrity of the committee process in announcing opposition Rep. Andy Nuñez’s attempt to bring his bill that would outlaw giving driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants directly to the House floor for consideration.

“It’s been a longstanding tradition in this House that we work through the committee process, and it’s not to work to advantage, it’s to allow the citizens of this legislature to come and state their case,” Majority Leader Ken Martinez, D-Grants, said on the House floor during today’s debate.

The debate on whether to bring House Bill 78 directly to the floor for consideration – called blasting – is ongoing and could continue for hours. You can listen live here.

Martinez was joined by a number of other Democrats in speaking about the importance of the committee process. Among them was Rep. Thomas Garcia, D-Ocate, who said the process attempts to ensure fairness.

“I’m trying to understand why this bill is more important than a piece of legislation I’m carrying that is stuck in a committee somewhere,” Garcia said.


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Nuñez argued that the committee process isn’t always fair. The speaker assigns some bills to only one committee, he said, but many of his bills must be approved by three committees before they reach the House floor.

Rep. James Roger Madalena, D-Jemez Pueblo, said he tried to bypass the committee process years ago, like Nuñez is trying to do today, but was unsuccessful.

At the time he was upset, but Madalena said he now understands that the committee process is “critical to House members and to the House of Representatives.”

“I’m just conveying that our rules are rules that were put in place for a specific reason, and the committee process is what it is,” he said. “If we open one or make an exception to one, then I am sure that there will be another one tomorrow, or next week, or perhaps at the next session, and if we do that we are violating our own process.”

‘This needs to have the full hearing’

Asked why this bill and not others deserves to bypass the committee process, Nuñez said any member has the ability to make a motion on the House floor to bypass committees and bring a bill directly to the House floor for debate. Such a motion needs approval of a simple majority of members.

“This one is important enough to me to do this,” Nuñez said.

Rep. Dennis Kintigh, R-Roswell, agreed.

“This needs to have the full hearing it deserves to have,” he said.

The bill has been tabled by the Consumer and Public Affairs Committee, and this is Nuñez’s attempt to revive it. He needs the votes of 36 members on three different procedural motions to bring the bill to the House floor for consideration.

If the entire GOP caucus supports Nuñez, that means he also needs the votes of two Democrats.

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5 comments so far. Scroll down to submit your own comment.

  1. If the committee process is so very sacred, that we cannot usurp the sacred rules by bypassing the sacred committee process, then why do those very rules allow blasting in the first place?

    This procedural bypass shows exactly how far Speaker Lujan’s power has faded. If he loses this, and the License Law is revoked, the blood in the water will be his, and he won’t survive his next primary. And we may very well see the first Republican majority in the house since early last century.

  2. The headline is not correct, true Democrats would not object to this as the method to do it is firmly established in the House rules and is being followed. It happens rarely, and is ony happening now because the liberals are so attached and dead-set to having illegals treated as citizens, for numerous reasons, all political. The headline should read “Liberals Concerned About Protecting the Committee Process, at all costs (even if it violates House rules), as it advantages them when they want to kill bills and amendments to further their partisan agendas and resist the will of the citizens for their own selfish motives.”

  3. This type of dishonorable procedural trickery of the Dems is sadly never to be unexpected.

    Yes, because Republicans are never dishonest…

    Come on, Tex, at least be realistic in your criticism.

  4. This type of dishonorable procedural trickery of the Dems is sadly never to be unexpected.

    However, now that we the citizenry are able to listen to this disreputable subterfuge in real time, without all the filters and typically slanted media spin, it’s easy for us to see that it’s even more despicable than we had known it to be in the past.

  5. This is just political posturing and bull, it is entirely disgraceful and dishonest. The House Dems have misused and abused the committee process for decades and now the roosters may be coming home to roost.

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