Legislative Update Feb. 21, 2019
Roosevelt County Chamber's
Feb. 21, 2019
Second Amendment Sanctuary
Perhaps the biggest legislative news of the week didn't occur in Santa Fe. With all but two of New Mexico's County Sheriffs lining up against several gun-control legislation they took the fight back home as bills began passing through the two state houses. The sheriffs began introducing resolution to their respective county commissions declaring the county a Second Amendment Sanctuary County. The resolution declares support by commissioners for sheriffs who elect not to enforce new state legislation related to gun-control.
Roosevelt County had to move its meeting this week upstairs to the District courtroom to accomodate a crowd of close to 100, many wanting to speak in favor. A resolution that was deemed as "watered down" by supporters was eventually tabled with commissioners scheduled to take up the matter again Friday at 1 p.m. with the original Sheriffs' Association wording resolution back on the table.
Food Tax Bill resurfaces
Conservative Deming Democrat John Arthur Smith roiled the waters in the State Capitol by introducing SB 585 just before the deadline to introduce legislation expired. Smith says while it is politically unpopular, since dropping the tax in 2004 the flaws in the state's tax code have been exacerbated. Sen Stuart Ingle of Portales is a co-sponsor of the measure. The debate could get lively at some point but Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is not a fan.
SJR 6 Seeks New Regents Selection Committee
One interesting measure that has popped up on our radar this week is a Senate Joint Resolution that seeks an amendment to the Constitution concerning how university regents are selected. Currently the responsibility rests solely with the Governor followed by confirmation of the legislature. This measure would give the legislature the responsibility for selecting the committee that would have no more than 50 percent of one party. The committee would vet potential regents then send three names to the governor for consideration. If passed, the measure would be on the November ballot for voters to consider.
Minimum Wage Hearings Saturday in Senate
HB 31 and SB 437, two very different bills seeking a hike in minimum wage in New Mexico are scheduled for debate in the Senate Public Affairs Committee on Saturday. Business owners and pro-business groups and Republican representatives testified mightily against HB 31 before it passed the House floor last week on a party-line vote. It seeks to hike the rate to $12 over two years with future indexed raises after that. SB 437 is less agressive and caps at $10 an hour. It hasn't seen much debate yet and will likely face amendments before advancing.
Non-profit Hospital Tax Being Eyed
One of the tax reform measures we reported in previous weeks that was being considered was to begin taxing non-profit hospitals. RGH Administrator Kaye Green reported this week that our local hospital is now eyeing that measure with a critical eye as it could impact the hospital bottom-line by hundreds of thousands of dollars if enacted. We'll keep you posted.
House Passes Big Budget Increase
The House finished debate on its budget bill in record time last week and the bill they passed seeks to push the state budget to record levels by way of a whopping 10 percent increase. Most of that increase goes to public schools. The Senate is more conservative so there is still hope that it could slim down on that side of the hallway.