With a Friday deadline looming to act on legislation approved in the recent session, Gov. Susana Martinez signed dozens of bills into law on Thursday — and vetoed many others.
Martinez has yet to act on the budget lawmakers approved for the 2018 fiscal year and a separate bill that contains a number of tax increases to help fund that budget. She’s expected to either sign them with line-item vetoes or reject the bills in their entirety, and has already pledged to call lawmakers back into special session to address the state’s budget woes.
The governor signed approximately 67 bills and vetoed 30 on Thursday. In all, she’s signed 98 bills, including 60 from the House and 38 from the Senate. She’s vetoed 54 bills, including 31 from the Senate and 23 from the House. (Most bills Martinez acted on Thursday are listed here, though some weren’t yet online as of publication of this article.)
Approximately 120 bills await Martinez’s action. Those she doesn’t act on by noon Friday will be rejected by pocket veto.
Here are some of the bills Martinez acted on Thursday:
House Bill 347, sponsored by Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, and others, caps storefront lending interest rates at 175 percent. The bill was a compromise with the storefront lending industry, which has massive influence at the Roundhouse. The deal caused heartburn for lawmakers who proposed capping rates, which have spiked as high as 9,000 percent, at 36 percent.
Senate Bill 308, sponsored by Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, which aims to increase broadband internet access, changes fees imposed by the Public Regulation Commission and requires that a percentage of fees go to broadband development.
House Bill 147, sponsored by Bill McCamley, D-Las Cruces, and George Dodge, D-Santa Rosa, reduces the residency requirement for a high-wage job training program, which McCamley said “allows New Mexico companies to have more flexibility in hiring the high wage workers that they need to make local economies succeed.”
House Bill 370, whose main sponsor was Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Albuquerque, makes the drug naloxone, which can help combat opioid overdoses, more readily available through law enforcement and others.
Senate bills 474 and 475, sponsored by Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, aim to reduce the state’s rape-kit backlog by allowing untested kits in the Albuquerque area to be sent to the state Department of Public Safety for testing and requiring police agencies to create procedures for processing evidence.
House Bill 9, sponsored by Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, D-Albuquerque, will add training for law enforcement officers to equip them to respond to trauma at scenes and stop excessive bleeding. “Today is a great day for our statewide law enforcement officers and New Mexico’s communities,” Ruiloba said.
House Bill 24, sponsored by Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, creates a fund to address damage on state trust lands.
Senate Bill 393, sponsored by Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque and others, aimed to close a loophole in the state’s lobbyist reporting law that was created last year. Because of the veto, lobbyists won’t have to report expenses under $100. Martinez wrote in her veto message that she supports the bill in concept and has “prioritized transparency” and “fought to ensure that legislators are held accountable to the needs of the people of New Mexico — not to special interests and lobbyists.” But, without elaborating, she said the bill contains “various interpretations and ambiguity.”
As promised, Martinez vetoed two bills that would have raised the state’s minimum wage. House Bill 442, sponsored by Debbie Rodella, D-Española, and others, would have increased the statewide minimum wage to $9.25 an hour on Jan. 1, 2018. Senate Bill 386, sponsored by Clemente Sanchez, D-Grants, would have increased the minimum wage to $9 an hour over the next year. “If we are to be serious about reducing poverty in our state, raising the minimum wage is imperative,” Rodella said in response to the governor’s veto of her bill.
Senate Bill 227, sponsored by Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, would have required that the state take into account cost-benefit analysis of installing solar or other renewable energy equipment on state owned buildings. Martinez wrote in her veto message that the bill “does not provide the resources necessary for the successful development and implementation of such a plan.” Steinborn called the veto “a missed opportunity to save millions of dollars while creating good paying jobs and lowering our carbon footprint.”
Senate Bill 78, sponsored by Bill O’Neill, D-Albuquerque, and Alonzo Baldonado, R-Los Lunas, would have prohibited employers from asking about a job applicants’ criminal conviction history during an initial employment application. The bill, Martinez wrote in her veto message, “inappropriately limits the rights of private employers” and “could result in wasted time for the applicant as well as the employer.” O’Neill, on the other hand, said the bill “in no way impedes a prospective employer’s ability to check on an applicant’s background, and in fact encourages individual responsibility on the part of the job applicant as they explain their own personal history to a possible employer.” He said such legislation is “a proven and effective approach to reducing recidivism.”
House Bill 175, sponsored by Antonio “Moe” Maestas, would have limited the use of solitary confinement in jails. Martinez wrote in her veto message that the bill “oversimplifies and misconstrues isolated confinement in such a way so as to eliminate flexibility and endanger the lives of inmates and staff alike.” Maestas said the bill “was the result of the hard work of many stakeholders, including county jail officials and criminal justice experts” and said he looked forward “to continuing to work with jail and prison officials to change the culture in our state’s correctional facilities and end solitary confinement in New Mexico for mentally ill, pregnant and juvenile inmates.”
House bills 124 and 125, sponsored by Sheryl Williams Stapleton, D-Albuquerque. The first would have set new requirements for teacher advancement in the licensure system. It would have based licensure on “teacher competencies,” not student performance, Martinez wrote in her veto message, and therefore “sets us up to fail our students and teachers who need feedback to serve them best.” The second, which would have created a council to create new evaluation systems for teachers and principals, would duplicate years of work Martinez’s administration has already done, her veto message states. Stapleton said the vetoes “are just the latest in a long list of slights against our teachers from the executive that go against our values as New Mexicans of ensuring a high-quality education for all of our kids.”