Legislative Update Feb. 13, 2019
Roosevelt County Chamber's
Feb. 13, 2019
Almost Halfway Home
The 60-day session of the New Mexico State Legislature will reach the halfway point tomorrow and that is also the deadline to file bills. Things have been rolling at breakneck speed, especially when compared to recent years when the budget was tight. Money in the bank and a Democratic majority in both houses as well as the governor's office has quickened the pace and the estimated glut of oil and gas revenue has brought an abundance of potential legislation through the doors.
In an Albuquerque Journal story this week our own favorite son was quoted this way. "We're swimming in money," said Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales. "Whenever you have a lot of money, there's a lot more bills introduced." It's doubtful that the reporter detected the sarcasm of our dry-witted Senator.
Teacher Recruitment at ENMU
ENMU President Jeff Elwell has been helping with introduction of some of that proposed legislation. With area Rep. Phelps Anderson of Roswell as the sponsor HB 464 seeks to create a program to help the state in recruiting quality teachers for public schools while bolstering enrolled education majors at ENMU. The bill requests $300,000 a year for tuition assistance for 50 students who sign a contract agreeing to teach in a New Mexico public school for at least four years. The awards under the program would take into account a focus toward recruitment that would match ethnicity of public school students, which is out of balance, especially where Hispanics are concerned.
HB 31 on Minimum Wage passes House
Late Wednesday the House passed, along party lines, HB 31 that would raise the minimum wage to $10 this year and $12 by 2021. The bill was amended to phase in the elimination of the tipped employee wage floor.
These laws and rules tie our hands behind our backs," Rep. Martin Zamora of Clovis was quoted by the Albuquerque Journal. "They don't give you the freedom which has made us prosper." The bill heads to the Senate now where Democrats are a little more conservative.
Marijuana Moving Forward
A bill to legalize recreational marijuana cleared the House Health and Human Services Committee Saturday on a 5-2 party-line vote with Democrats approving. Some of the objections raised during testimony included fear of edibles falling into the hands of children and safeguards for businesses who could potentially have to deal with the issue of impaired workers on the job.
Transfer of Muni Court Jurisdiction
Our local Municipal Court Judge in Portales, Barbara George has expressed concern over SB 173, which she says could see municipal court proceedings transfered to a magistrate court. She says magistrate courts are overloaded now and it would create less flexibility for those having to appear and she points out that municipal judges are trained in matters where magistrates aren't necessarily as versed.