December 15, 2019

NM Legislative Session Weekly Update: March 4-8, 2013

Posted on 09. Mar, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics

The following information was provided by the New Mexico State Senate Republican Office (newest to oldest chronological order)

For Immediate Release:  Friday, March 08, 2013 Contact: 986-4702

Law Enforcement to Have More Vehicle Options

SB 396a- American-made vehicles in procurement code

Senator Steven Neville (R-Farmington)

More vehicle choices for sheriffs and police

Exempt law enforcement from current procurement code restrictions

Allow purchases of vehicles assembled outside of  the US

Santa Fe — New Mexico sheriff’s departments and police departments could soon have more choices in the models of vehicles they use to track down criminals. The law enforcement agencies from smaller towns throughout New Mexico will have more options if a bill that passed the Senate today becomes law.

SB 396a passed the Senate 36 to 1 and advances to the House.

Smaller towns tend to use the state’s bidding practice to buy vehicles for their officers. Currently, the state’s procurement code restricts them to cars, trucks and SUVs manufactured or assembled in the United States. The bill sponsored  by Senate Minority Caucus Chair Steve Neville (R-Farmington) would exempt law enforcement vehicles from the restrictions in the code.  Law enforcement agencies would be able to purchase vehicles that meet their needs from anywhere in the world.

“Land enforcement agencies from larger cities have their own procurement codes that do not necessary have the same restriction as the state’s procurement code.  Law enforcement agencies in our smaller towns that use the state’s code need to have more choices when buying vehicles to meet their needs,” Senator Neville said.  “The exemption gives them more choice.”

Senator Neville said the New Mexico Sheriff’s Association that represents 33 New Mexico Counties requested the change to give them more flexibility.

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For Immediate Release Friday, March 08, 2013 Contact: 986-4702

School District Flexibility Passes Senate

Similar Measure Passed House

SB 464 School District Solvency Flexibility

Senator Gay Kernan (R-Hobbs)

Santa Fe — SB 464, School District Solvency Flexibility, sponsored by Senator Gay G. Kernan of Hobbs, passed the Senate today to give public school districts an additional year of budget flexibility to deal with continuing budget shortfalls.  A similar measure has passed the House.  The bill will allow districts one final year of flexibility in a number of areas that directly affect their budgets: class loads, teaching loads, length of school day, staffing patterns, and purchases of instructional materials.  The waivers in the bill were first introduced in 2009 in response to school budget cuts imposed by the Legislature that year.

“No one is happy that this type of measure is needed for another year,” said Senator Kernan, “But until school budgets are restored to their pre-recession levels, districts have almost no choice but to seek flexibility.  Particularly with the threat of sequestration hanging over the heads of many districts, another year of these waivers will be vitally important for our schools.”

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For Immediate Release   Thursday, March 07, 2013 Contact: 986-4702

Bill to Eliminate Double Taxation Passes Senate

Santa Fe — The Senate passed a bill to eliminate the double taxation on special fuels delivered to New Mexico. Senate Minority Floor Leader Stuart Ingle (R-Portales) is sponsoring the bill that is now headed to the House.

The bill solves the double taxation issue by allowing a deduction for the special fuel excise tax on the biodiesel product manufactured or imported, if it is sold to a rack operator for blending or resale. Currently, the pure biodiesel is taxable twice. When it is either delivered or used directly, and when it is taxed on the entire volume of the blended fuel.

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For Immediate Release   Thursday, March 07, 2013 Contact: 986-4702

Senate Passes Bill to “End Catch-22”

Bill to Allow Ignition Interlocks After Sentence is Completed for Killing or Great Bodily Harm

SB 442- DWI Interlocks for Certain Crimes

Senator Ron Griggs (R-Alamogordo)

Change current statute

Allow ignition interlock license for those: Convicted of great bodily harm/ vehicular homicide by DWI

Qualified if: Completed serving sentence, including probation and parole  End “Catch-22” to allow people to become productive.

Santa Fe — People who have been convicted of DWI and killed or seriously injured someone and served their entire sentence would be able to drive legally if a bill that passed the Senate today becomes law. As it stands now, those people could never get a drivers’ license again.

The bill, SB 442- would allow an ignition interlock license to those convicted  of  vehicular homicide by DWI or convicted of great bodily harm by DWI. Currently, they are prevented from qualifying for an ignition interlock license.

Senator Ron Griggs (R-Alamogordo) sponsors the bill. He said those who serve their complete sentence need to be able to drive so they can be productive members of society.

“People need to be able to drive to get to work,  to get to  school or to go to court-ordered treatment programs,” Senator Griggs said. “If they are denied an interlock license, they are most likely denied an opportunity to support themselves and their families. We need to end the catch-22 they are in.”

Senator Griggs stressed that the ignition interlock license would only be issued if the person has completed their sentence for the crime, including any period of probation and parole. “Right now, they would never be able to get a drivers’ license again.”

Senator Griggs said those who are still serving their sentences for those crimes would not be eligible.

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For Immediate Release  Thursday, March 07, 2013 Contact: 986-4702

Senate Passes Small Town Businesses to get Boost from Microbrewery Tax-Lowering Bill

Video, audio at: http://youtu.be/QeKyxLkwzO0

Santa Fe — The State Senate passed a bill to help revitalize small towns and boost businesses in rural New Mexico by lowering the taxes on microbrewery production. The bill is sponsored State Senator Sue Wilson Beffort (R-Sandia Park). SB 81aa advances to the House.

SB 81aa- Liquor Tax Microbrew Volume Limit is designed to help expand the microbrewery business in New Mexico. It does that by charging a lower tax rate on 10,000 additional barrels of beer and thereby encouraging business growth.

Senator Wilson Beffort has said: “This bill is to help build up the downtown areas in rural communities like Moriarty, where the microbrewery is an attraction for tourists and for New Mexicans alike, to visit the rural setting while enjoying the gourmet-type New Mexico beers. This bill covers the small microbreweries, not the large package beer companies,” Senator Wilson Beffort said. “The tax savings would allow the microbreweries to buy more equipment to expand their production and help increase light manufacturing jobs in the area.”

The bill would help the 30 microbreweries or micro pubs and 5 packaging breweries in the state grow by lowering the tax rate on production of barrels over 5,000. It holds the liquor excise tax to $.08 per gallon charged on all barrels up to 15,000. Currently, those under 5,000 are charged $.08 and those produced from 5,000 to 15,000 are charged 33 cents more to $.41 a gallon.

“These New Mexico small businesses are at the mercy of the high tax rate in  trying to  grow their business while our neighbors to the north, Colorado, pay the lower eight cents a gallon on all beer sold within their state,” Wilson Beffort said. “Let’s boost business in our small towns by lowering tax rates.”

The Taxation and Revenue Department estimates the total recurring impact will be a loss from $830,000 in 2014 to $1.3 million in 2017 if six brewers qualify.

There is a ten year sunset on the bill and the effective date is January 1, 2014.

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For Immediate Release  Thursday, March 07, 2013  Contact: 986-4702

UNM’s Renewable Energy Field of Study to get its Own Boost of Energy

SB 321-Utility Charges for Certain Schools

Senate Minority Whip Bill Payne (R-Albuquerque)

University of New Mexico (UNM) exempt from Renewable Portfolio Act/Exempts utility charges for renewable energy 2.5% of electricity charges to invest in own renewable energy generation

$300,000 to $500,000 fee savings to be invested in renewables.

Santa Fe –  The renewable energy field of study at UNM could get its own  boost of energy if a bill that passed the Senate becomes law. It could receive a $300,000 to $500,000 boost.

SB 321, sponsored by Senate Minority Whip Bill Payne, passed the Senate unanimously and has now advanced to the House. It allows UNM to be exempt from a special utility fee charged to all utility customers  for the development of  renewable energy (by PNM.)

“This savings for UNM will go towards encouraging its own renewable energy generation at the university because it will be invested in UNM’s development and production of renewable energy,” Senator Payne said. “The savings will be invested in course and laboratory materials for students who are interested in the renewable energy field of study.” Senator Payne said the fee savings could generate as much at $300,000 to $500,000 for UNM.

SB 321 amends the Renewable Portfolio Act by exempting UNM as a political subdivision of the state. In doing so, UNM  would be exempt from the utility charge for renewable energy.  Utility customers who are exempt from the fee have an annual consumption exceeding 20 million kilowatt hours and have their own renewable generation.

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For Immediate Release  Wednesday, March 06, 2013  Contact: 505-986-4702

Tucumcari Rancher Confirmed by Senate for State Game Commission

Santa Fe — The New Mexico State Senate unanimously confirmed the appointment of Tucumcari rancher Scott  Bidegain as a member of the State Game Commission. Bidegain was sponsored by Senator Pat Woods (R-Broadview). He told his Senate colleagues that Bidegain is the epitome of a cowboy who has close encounters with wildlife.

“If you look up the definition of a cowboy you would have a picture of Scott Bidegain. He is a true American icon,” Senator Woods said on the Senate floor today. “He is also very close to wildlife as evidenced by the brace on his hand from a mountain lion bite that broke his hand.”

Bidegain said he was rescuing his dogs from a cave on his property when he  came upon a mountain lion and  the mountain lion bit him. Senator Woods said the Game Commission is fortunate to have someone of the Bidegain’s  to serve for four years on the seven member commission. Bidegain, 33,  said he will work towards  a balanced approach on the State Game Commission, “Wildlife comes first, no one else will look out for them.”

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For Immediate Release Wednesday, March 06, 2013  Contact: 986-4702

Rawson Reappointed To Four More Years as State Investment Council Hits Record High

Santa Fe – Former state senator and Las Cruces businessman Leonard Lee Rawson was unanimously reconfirmed by the New Mexico State Senate to serve four more years on the New Mexico State Investment Council. Rawson was originally appointed to the State Investment Council in April 2010. At that time, the state’s permanent fund totaled around  $13 billion dollars. The fund has grown by around four billion dollars since Rawson has been on the council. Today, the fund is at an all time high of about $17 billion dollars.

Rawson credits the great financial returns to more than a recovering market. He said the days of the pay-to-play scandals surrounding the State Investment Council are over. Decisions are now based on sound investments.

“We have cleaned house since the days of corruption surrounding the State Investment Council.  It is now totally restructured. The result has been a dramatic increase in funds,” Rawson said. “We are making decisions based on the best investments for the state, not based on who can personally benefit from the state’s billions.”

Rawson said that the council is now very engaged and has hired all new financial managers and consultants. He said last year’s over 14% return has a lot to do with the asset allocation decisions the council made.

“The council is making decisions for the right reasons now.  We are focused on the best investments and they are no longer the political decisions from the days of pay-to-play scandals,” Rawson said. “We have beaten the market because of the decisions we have made and we are paying close attention to those decisions.”

The State Investment Council manages funds in the State’s Land Grant Fund and the State’s Severance Tax Permanent Fund. Those funds are generated from royalties on the state’s lands and from taxes on what is provided from the land, such as oil, gas and minerals.

Rawson, one of 11 members on the council, is a legislative appointee. He will serve until 2017.

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For Immediate Release Tuesday, March 5, 2013  Contact: 986-4702

Senate Passes Unemployment Insurance Bill to Assure Adequate Reserves and Fairer Premium Rates

SB 334CS- Unemployment Fund Contributions and Formula

Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle

Fairer rates based on employers’ use of fund

Workforce Solutions sets formula, assures soundness

Implemented in 2015

Santa Fe — The New Mexico State Senate Passed SB 334cs, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle (R-Portales) on a vote of 40 to 2. The bill now advances to the House.

Senator Ingle said the bill improves fairness of unemployment insurance premium contribution tax rates paid by employers and contributes to the long-term health of the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund (UCTF).

The bill changes the current law so employers’ unemployment claims experience relate more closely to their unemployment tax rates to be fair to all employers when setting unemployment premium tax rates.  It would allow the Department of Workforce Solutions to set part of the formula that would be used to determine how much money businesses would be required to pay into the unemployment fund. The new formula helps to assure adequate UCTF reserves. The new formula would take effect in January 2015.

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For Immediate Release  Wednesday, March 6, 2013  Contact: 505-986-4702

Recent Committee action  from Tuesday evening on following Republican Senate Bills:

SB 521a TWO-TIERED DRIVERS’ LICENSES (Sen Ingle) SPAC Tabled 5-3

SB 532 FORFEITURE OF DWI VEHICLES (Sen. Moores) SPAC no rec to SJC 5-3

SM 72 TRUANCY & DROPOUT PREVENTION TASK FORCE (Kernan)  -  SRC DP 6-0     goes next to SEC

SB 464 SCHOOL DISTRICT SOLVENCY FLEXIBILITY (Kernan) SFC DP 9-0 to Sfloor

SB 387ALGAE & GEOTHERMAL ENERGY EQUIPMENT VALUATION (Sen. Leavell) SCONC DP 9-0 Next to SFC

SB525 CHEMICAL TESTS FOR DWI (Sen. Rue) SPAC no rec 6-2 Next to SJC

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For Immediate Release  Tuesday, March 05, 2013 Contact: 986-4702

Bill to Change this: No to Life Jacket-  Yes to Court Appearance and Possible Jail time

Punishment does not fit the crime

Now-No lifejacket- appear in court, up to 6 months in jail, $500 fine or both

SB 94 change- treat like traffic ticket, option to pay or appear in court to contest

1st violation- $30, 2nd-$50, 3rd or more-$150

Santa Fe — It is important that lifejackets fit to be effective, but if you do not wear one on the water in New Mexico, the punishment does not fit the crime.  You would need to go to court and could face a jail cell for up to six months, a $500 fine, or both.

Senator Bill Sharer (R-Farmington) wants to change that.

Senator Sharer’s SB 94 would allow violations of state park rules to be treated like a  traffic ticket instead of like crime requiring jail time.  Offenders could have an  option  to pay the  “penalty assessment misdemeanor” or appear in court to contest the charge. A first violation would be $30, a second one would be $50 and a third or more would be $150.

“We are not diminishing the importance of lifejackets,” Senator Sharer said. “But it is important to not bog down our courts with these violations of park rules. People out on the water without their PFCs should have the option to pay the fine or go to court to contest it. They should  not be required to show up in court for not  wearing their lifejackets.”

Currently, the maximum sentence for not wearing a personal floatation device (PFC) is six months in jail and a $500 fine or both.  The petty misdemeanor also requires a person appear to court to face a judge.

Sb 94- Penalties for no boat floatation devices passed the Senate 37-0 and goes to the House.

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For Immediate Release  March 5, 2013  Contact:  505-986-4702

Senate Passed Bill to Speed up Background Checks Prior to Placing Children in Emergencies

SB 41a/ec Background Checks for CYFD Emergency Placements

Senator Sander Rue

Passes Senate 36-2

Santa Fe — The New Mexico State Senate passed a bill sponsored by State Senator Sander Rue (R-Albuquerque) 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.

The bill, with an emergency clause, passed the Senate 36 to 2 and now goes to the House. SB 41a is designed 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.

Senator Rue has said:

“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 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 Senator Rue, 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.

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For Immediate Release  Monday, March 04, 2013  Contact: 505-986-4702

Monday evening committee action on following Republican Senate Bills:

SB0442 DWI INTERLOCKS FOR CERTAIN SENTENCES (Sen. Griggs) SJC DP 6-0 goes to Senate Floor

SB0279cs APPRAISAL MANAGEMENT COMPANIES (Sen. Rue) SJC DP 6-0 goes to SFloor

SB0278csa REAL ESTATE APPRAISERS, MANAGEMENT & TRAINING (Sen. Rue) DP 7-0 goes to Senate Floor

SB0312aa UNCLAIMED INSURANCE BENEFITS & POLICIES (Sen. Leavell) SJC DP 7-0 goes to Senate Floor

SB0361 SCHOOL ATHLETICS EQUITY ACT DELAYED REPEAL (Sen. Kernan) died in SJC on a DP failure 4-5 on party lines

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For Immediate Release  Monday, March 04, 2013  Contact: 986-4702

Despite ALL Republican Senators Vote Against Raising Minimum Wage Statewide to 4th Highest  in the Nation, SB 416a Passes Senate on Party-line vote

Soundbite available: http://youtu.be/JTXKeVXBPjI

On a party line vote, all 17 Republican Senators voted against raising the minimum wage statewide to $8.50 an hour, the fourth highest in the nation. SB 416a-Raise Minimum Wage passed 25 to 17 and goes to the House.

State Senator Bill Sharer (R-Farmington) said the free market should be allowed to work. He said the free market should determine wages. Senator Sharer said raising the minimum wage by 13% could have a negative impact on New Mexico small business and may lead to cutbacks in employment levels.  Currently, the state minimum wage is $7.50 an hour.

The bill was amended to apply to employers with 11 or more employees. Current law applies to employers with one or more employees.

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For Immediate Release Monday, March 04, 2013 Contact: 505-986-4702

Audio /Video at: http://youtu.be/xomdtcDpGX0

On to 3rd Committee: SB 368- Reboot NM Tax System in Senate Public Affairs Tuesday

SB 368 Hard Reboot of NM Tax System -  Repeal Nearly Every Tax, Replace  them with a 2% Across-the-Board Consumption Tax

Santa Fe — Out of Senate Conservation, Out of Senate Corporations, in Senate Public Affairs Tuesday.  Bill to wipe out hundreds of taxes in New Mexico and replace them with a simple and low 2% across-the- board consumption tax is scheduled for Senate Public Affairs Tuesday afternoon, March 5, 2013 in room 321.

Sponsor of SB 368: Senator Bill Sharer (R- Farmington). He said: “Give the tax system a hard reboot and bring it back to the basics of what the original Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) was intended to be while eliminating all of the GRT deductions, credits and exemptions that have grown around it over the years. “This is real tax reform. While we have played around the edges of taxation for decades we now have a bill that will be a true “hard reboot” of the tax system. It is time to quit tinkering and just do it.”

The back-to-the basics tax plan includes implementing a low 2% broad based tax on everything that is sold, purchased and rented in New Mexico and eliminating the Personal Income Tax, the Corporate Income Tax, the Compensating Tax and nearly all of the “special sales taxes.” Special taxes include such things as the vehicle excise tax, the taxes on insurance premiums and the Convoy Tax.

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For Immediate Release  Monday, March 04, 2013  Contact: 505-986-4702

Recent Committee action on following Republican Senate Bills:

SB548 THREATENING SCHOOL VIOLENCE ACT (Sen. Neville) SEC DP 8-1 Next to SJC

SB 496 SPECIAL LICENSE PLATE DECALS (Sharer) SCORC DP 7-1 on to SJC then SFC

SB 428LEA & ROOSEVELT WEATHER MODIFICATION (Sen. Ingle) SCONC DP 6-0 Next to SFC

SJM 46 REIMBURSEMENT OF HOME & COMMUNITY-BASED SVCS (Beffort) SFC DP to Sfloor

SB  557/a  RURAL JOB TAX CREDIT DEFINITIONS  (Leavell) SFC DP to Sfloor

SB  160a BIODIESEL DEFINITIONS (Ingle) SFC DP to Sfloor

 

 

 

 

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