January 20, 2021

Roundhouse Roundup: Feb. 12, 2012 – The Senate

Posted on 13. Feb, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics

State Veteran Definition would include those National Guard members and Reservists who have not been called up to active duty

Santa Fe—The New Mexico State Senate unanimously passed  Senator Bill Burt’s (R-Alamogordo) bill to define a New Mexican veteran to include reservists and National Guard members who have not  been called up to Federal active duty.

Senator Burt said the practical impact of the bill will allow National Guard members and Reservists who have not seen active duty to access state veterans’  benefits.

“By including reservists and the National Guard in our definition of veteran, they will be able to get a slight break on their property taxes and will be able to enter for free our  state parks on Veteran’s Day,” Senator Burt said. “It is more than symbolic,  our guardsmen and women and reservists are veterans and deserve to be recognized even if they have not served in active duty.”

SB 369-Veteran Services Dept. Definitions- defines a New Mexican veteran to include those Reservists and National Guard members who have been assigned to duty for a minimum of six continuous years.

Those who have been dishonorably discharged would not be able to access the state benefits.

Senate Minority Leader’s Hay Bill First of Session to pass both Houses and to be placed on Governor’s desk  (first bill outside of bill to pay for session.)

Santa Fe—Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle’s hay bill is the first bill,(outside of the feed bill that pays for the session), to pass both houses and to be placed on the Governor’s desk for her action.

Senator Ingle said, “Perhaps being the first bill to pass both houses this session can spotlight how important this hay bill is to solving a huge problem for all New Mexicans,” Senator Ingle said. “This bill is especially important  for the dairy industry in Southeastern New Mexico that has struggled to feed its livestock because of the extreme drought in recent years.”

Hay in recent years has had to be hauled in from other states and as far as Canada creating challenges to the agriculture industry.  Senator Ingle’s bill will allow oversized hay loads, that will not forego highway safety, to be transported on state highways.

“On behalf of the agriculture industry, I am hopeful the governor will sign this bill quickly so it can take effect immediately with its emergency clause,” Senator Ingle said.  “Because of the drought, hay from outside the state needs to be transported on the interstate system and that high fuel costs has made  it necessary to maximize the hay loads on each truck.”

SB 56/a- Hay Transportation Permits & Distances- eliminates distance limits on hay transportation and allows special permits to be issued by the Motor Transportation Police for truck loads wider that what are currently allowed.  Current law requires permits for loads up to 12 feet wide and then only if the load is transported no farther than 200 miles.

Senator Ingle said New Mexico is one of the leading dairy states in the nation with livestock that needs feed, because of the multiple years of drought, New Mexico has not been able to  grow the hay needed to sustain the livestock industry.

Senator Ingle has said, “The point here is to make it easier to haul hay,” Senator Ingle said.

The emergency clause on the bill means it will take effect immediately if it is signed into law.

Senate Passes One Year Extension for School Budget Flexibility

SB 209   School District Financial Flexibility-

Senator Vernon Asbill

Passed Senate 28-14

Santa Fe—The New Mexico State Senate tonight passed a bill to give a one year extension for school districts on how they spend their limited dollars.  Senator Vernon Asbill (R-Carlsbad), the sponsor of SB 209, said because of continued budget constraints, school districts  need a  one year extension to the three years they received in 2010 to get waivers to operate in exempt of the public school code. Those exemptions would include being able to make adjustments to class loads, length of school days, class materials  and other operating expenses.

“This extension is a necessity. No one likes it, but school districts need the flexibility on how they spend their limited dollars during these continued tight times,” Senator Asbill said.

The Senate passed the bill 28-14.

Schools would still need to apply to the Secretary of Education to temporarily waive rules pertaining  to some items covered in the public school code.

The bill will give school superintendents and school principals one more year of  flexibility in operating their schools as they face possibly having to adjust their budgets to live within the reality and means of fewer tax dollars going into the state coffers.

The bill continues to require the Public Education Department to monitor the waivers and report to the Legislative Education Study Committee and Legislative Finance Committee any adverse affects the waivers could have on student learning.

Senate Passes Bill to Help Make ERB Solvent

In what was called a balanced approach, the New Mexico State Senate passed a bill to help make the Education Retirement Board retirement fund  (ERB) for employees of  public schools and universities solvent.  Without the corrective action in the bill, it was estimated the fund would be insolvent in less than 30 years, in 2039.

The substitute bill for SB 150- Educational Retirement Changes- makes primarily three adjustments.

It would require  both  public schools and universities and their employees to gradually contribute  more  out of each paycheck to the retirement fund over the next seven years.  On a graduating scale until 2020,  employees would contribute 3.4% more of their salary into their retirement fund and the schools would contribute 2.5% more into the fund.

The bill would also create for the first time the minimum retirement age of 55 to receive retirement benefits  for those starting to work after this July.  Now, a person could start receiving retirement pay as early as age 45 if they had started working at age 20

And the bill requires eight years of service to be vest compared to five years for employees who start after this July.

The legislation is sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle (R-Portales) who said, “The changes have to be done for the good of our hard working school teachers and university personnel so they will receive the retirement they have worked so diligently  for. Without these changes, the money will run out and won’t be there for the future.”

The contribution changes will affect all public education employees.

The bill passed 30 to 12.

Senate Unanimously Passes Bill to Unlock Nearly $2 Million for Low- Interest Business Loans

Senator Sue Wilson Beffort is Sponsoring Pro-Businesses Bill-

SB 189- Development Training to Encourage Economic Development

Senate passes 41-0

Santa Fe-  The New Mexico State Senate passed unanimously a bill to unlock nearly $2 million in low-interest loans for New Mexico small businesses. The $1.9 million would be able to be spent on economic development projects if a bill that passed the Senate 41 to 0  becomes law.  The bill sponsored by Senator Sue Wilson Beffort (R- Sandia Park) is needed so the state’s Economic Development Department can access $1.9 million worth of development funds,  currently they do not have the authority to spend it. SB 189 now goes to t he House.

“Freeing up these funds should have a big impact as we  try to do all we can to help New Mexico businesses,” Senator Wilson Beffort said. “These funds would be used for community development and for low interest loans for small businesses and for training.  I am hopeful real jobs will result from this money being spent on economic development projects throughout the state.”

SB 189- Development Training clarifies that the $1.9 million balance in the development fund can be invested in economic development and will not revert at the end of  the fiscal year to the General Fund.

“If this bill passes, this pool of money  will be available to be invested in New Mexico business development and no tax increase would be required to have this money flow into our communities,” Senator Wilson Beffort said.

Senate Passes Bill to Quicken Background Checks  Prior to Placing Children in Emergencies

SB 147/a CYFD Emergency Placement Background Checks

Senator Sander Rue

Senate Passed 37 to 2

Santa Fe—The New Mexico State Senate passed SB 147/a  to improve the safety of children placed in the home of relatives, neighbors or friends in an emergency situation.  If it becomes law, abused and neglected children needing emergency protection from the state would not be placed in a home with a known convicted felon because background checks would be conducted faster than the current process  and prior to a child being  placed in a home.

State Senator Sander Rue (R-Albuquerque, Rio Rancho) is sponsoring the bill to allow the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD)  to conduct a federal criminal history records check with the FBI of all adults residing in a home where a child might be placed by the state when there is an emergency and a child is in need of state protection. It would producer faster criminal checks than what CYFD is currently able to attain.

“We want to ensure that when an emergency arises,  the state places  no child in a home that could be potentially volatile if a felon is living in the home,” Senator Rue said. “The state needs to do everything it can to protect these children that are under its care and we need to be able to do it quickly.

This will allow the state to do instant nationwide name checks through the National Crime Information Center.”  The NCIC conducts a broader, nationwide check to cover what could be potential concerns in the home.”

CYFD currently conducts fingerprint-based national criminal records background checks on all foster and adoptive parent applicants, however these checks do not provide immediate results. The bill provides CYFD with more timely access to federal criminal records histories than currently is available.  This information is critical to assessing child safety in the placement.

This bill adds a new section to the Children’s Code permitting the Children Youth and Families Department (CYFD) to request from a criminal justice agency a federal name-based criminal history record check of each adult residing in a home where a child will be placed in an emergency due to the absence of the child’s parents or custodians.

The bill also contains provisions for fingerprint-based verification by the department of public safety of name-based checks completed.  The bill contains an emergency clause.

According to bill analysis, law enforcement may place a child into the emergency protective custody of CYFD when law enforcement believes that a child is abused or neglected and that there is an immediate threat to the child’s safety.

In such circumstances, the parent is unavailable to provide care and protection to the child, and CYFD is responsible for identifying a safe and appropriate placement for the child. Placement options can include appropriate relatives so as to reduce the trauma to the child and preserve family connections.

The bill also establishes provisions for follow-up on any name-based check with a fingerprint-based check within fifteen calendar days from the date of the name-based check.  The bill provides provisions to remove a child from the home immediately if any adult resident in the home fails to provide fingerprints or written permission to perform a federal criminal history record check when requested to do so.

When placement of a child in a home is denied as result of a name-based check and the resident contests the denial, the bill allows the resident to still submit fingerprints with written permission allowing for the fingerprint based check.

For the purpose of this bill, the term “emergency placement is defined as instances when CYFD is placing a child in the home of private individuals, including neighbors, friends or relatives as a result of sudden unavailability of the child’s primary caretaker.

End Roundup

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