Election, ethics reform still on session agenda
Gov. Susana Martinez scaled back the agenda for the ongoing 30-day legislative session on Monday, but election reform and various ethics-related proposals including increased penalties for public corruption remain.
Martinez cut the number of messages she sent to the House approving consideration of various topics from more than 40 to 19. She added some new messages to the Senate, bringing the total number sent to that chamber to 48.
There are many duplicate messages sent to both chambers, and the 67 total messages Martinez has issued is still fewer than the approximately 80 she sent last week.
The updated agenda
Martinez’s priorities for the session remain. That includes increased penalties for public corruption and other crimes, repealing a law that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, ending social promotion, and combining the Cultural Affairs and Tourism departments.
The governor issued separate messages to both chambers allowing consideration of legislation that would require parental notification of abortions.
And, as promised, Martinez sent a message allowing a broad discussion of election reform. She has not endorsed any bills related to that topic.
She is allowing discussion of other reform proposals, including strengthening the Sunshine Portal and the Open Meetings and Fraud Against Taxpayers acts, legislation that would remove elected officials from the State Investment Council, and a proposal to prohibit lawmakers from lobbying for two years after they leave office.
I don’t see a message allowing consideration of reform proposals for the scandal-plagued Public Regulation Commission. I’ve e-mailed the governor’s office seeking clarification on whether the governor intends for that to be a topic of discussion during this session and will let you know what I learn.
Martinez is also allowing discussion of legislation related to mortgage foreclosures. That’s intended for Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, which aims to help homeowners avoid foreclosure by requiring banks to work with them on loan modification before foreclosing.
That bill has been heavily pushed by the Southern New Mexico activist group Comunidades en Acción y de Fé, which is taking several dozen residents of communities in and around Las Cruces to Santa Fe today to lobby for that and other bills.
“Foreclosure message is 24th on her list… phew,” the organization tweeted Monday evening when learning that Sanchez’s bill was still on the session agenda.
And yes, legislation “relating to prescription eye drop refills” is still on the session agenda.
Guv says Dem complaints should go to their leaders
During 30-day sessions, which are intended to be focused on the budget, other topics can only be considered with the governor’s approval. Some Democratic legislative leaders complained last week when Martinez issued about 80 messages, saying it was too much.
Martinez’s spokesman responded by saying the governor was trying to accommodate requests from Democratic and Republican lawmakers but would scale things back if Democratic leaders wanted.
House Speaker Ben Luján was among the most vocal complainers, and after discussions with House leaders Martinez rescinded many messages allowing consideration of topics sought by lawmakers from that chamber. Martinez’s spokesman said Monday that Democrats whose bills were no longer on the session agenda should take it up with their leaders, not the governor.
Update, 9:20 a.m.
No message from the governor is necessary for memorials, and all PRC-reform legislation proposed thus far appears to be memorials that would propose constitutional amendments to voters.
Here’s a statement from Martinez spokesman Scott Darnell on the issue:
“As the governor has said, she believes serious reform is needed at the PRC to restore the public trust, including adding minimum qualifications for its members and transferring some of its current duties to existing state agencies. Resolutions to enact PRC reform, which would require changes to the state’s Constitution, do not need to be messaged by the governor; they can be heard by the Legislature at any time and need to pass each house and be approved by the voters.”
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