Legislative Update March 6, 2019
Roosevelt County Chamber's
March 6, 2019
Legislative pace checked in Senate
Just when many thought nothing would slow the out-of-control wildfire that has been the 2019 New Mexico Legislative session the Senate showed it still has a conservative stripe. The more aggressive House version of the minimum wage increase proposals, HB 31 ran aground in the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee. Las Cruces Democrat and Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen voted with Republicans to table that bill while advancing the less aggressive Senate minimum wage bill. That bill would raise the rate to $9.25 with it eventually going to $11 over two years. The bill would keep the tip wage in place but raise it to $3 an hour. HB 31 would have eliminated the tip wage and provided for a wage of $12 an hour over two years and indexed after that.
"The increases we're looking at are catastrophic to our local economies," said Walter Bradley, former lieutenant governor who is a Clovis restaurant owner.
The Senate Rules Committee tabled House Joint Resolution 1 that proposed taking an extra 1 percent out of the state's largest permanent fund to further fund early childhood programs. Opponents have said that the increased draw would endanger the state's economic health. They also point out that early childhood spending has increased almost three-fold in the last few years. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has thrown support behind a replacement bill that would take 0.5 percent instead. It is unlikely that measure would advance far in the time left.
House tax reform working way through Senate
After moving through the House quickly, HB 6 which has a variety of tax measures that would be the largest tax increase in state history is pending committee debate. Democrat Sen. John Arthur Smith, the most fiscally conservative member of his party in the Roundhouse has already spoken up on the Senate floor saying he couldn't support the bill in its current form.
The Albuquerque Journal ran an editorial this week condemning the tax increase. For details read it at the following link:
Education reform bills sailing
Two measures seeking to shore up support for public schools are making good progress and gaining more bipartisan support. The bills differ slightly but some of the changes could include substantial teacher salary increases, early childhood expansion and an increased school year of up to 25 days.