A district judge agreed on Friday with lawmakers’ argument that Gov. Susana Martinez didn’t follow constitutional requirements when she vetoed 10 bills during the legislative session earlier this year.
Essentially, First Judicial District Judge Sarah Singleton ruled that Martinez didn’t provide an explanation for her disapproval in the time required by the N.M. Constitution and the bills should become law.
But that doesn’t mean the decision is final. Paul Kennedy, the governor’s attorney, planned to request a stay to delay the bills from becoming law while he appealed the ruling, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported. The judge asked the attorneys to draft a written order that’s due in three weeks. That’s the earliest the secretary of state would be ordered to take the final procedural steps to make the bills law.
Still, Democrats celebrated the ruling.
“We are very pleased that the voices of New Mexicans in the Roundhouse were restored,” said Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces.
“The Court’s decision today is a clear victory for our state Constitution, and for the principle that no branch of government is above the law,” said Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe.
Among the bills in question are legislation to allow industrial hemp research, expand broadband internet, and allow computer science to count toward high school math and science requirements.
“This case was about computer science opportunities for school kids, economic development in agriculture, and defending the state’s Constitution,” said House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe. “Today’s ruling is a victory for our youth, our farmers, our communities and our Constitution.”
Here’s a full list of the vetoed bills:
- House Bill 126, Financial Assistance For Medical Students, sponsored by Rep. Doreen Gallegos, D-Las Cruces
- House Bill 144, Industrial Hemp Research Rules, sponsored by Rep. Bealquin “Bill” Gomez, D-La Mesa
- Senate Bill 6, Industrial Hemp Research Rules, sponsored by Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque
- Senate Bill 24, Local Gov’t Broadband Infrastructure, sponsored by Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque and Rep. James E. Smith, R-Sandia Park
- Senate Bill 64, Public School Capital Outlay Time Periods, sponsored by Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque
- Senate Bill 67, Notification Of TIDD To County Treasurers, sponsored by Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe
- Senate Bill 134, Computer Science For School Graduation, sponsored by Sen. Jacob Candelaria and Rep. Debra M. Sariñana, both D-Albuquerque
- Senate Bill 184, Horse Racing Licenses, Health & Testing, sponsored by Papen
- Senate Bill 222, “Local Public Body” Exemption, sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth “Liz” Stefanics, D-Cerrillos
- Senate Bill 356, Notification Of Public Improvement Districts, sponsored by Rodriguez
Papen urged Martinez “to accept the Court’s decision and allow the people of New Mexico to move on.”
“With the enactment of these 10 bills, our students will be better able to learn science and math for good careers in the future, small businesses will have a better opportunity to thrive, and we will strengthen our state’s economy,” she said.
Martinez’s press secretary didn’t answer when asked by NMPolitics.net whether the governor would appeal Singleton’s ruling.
“We’re disappointed in this decision because there is no question the governor vetoed these bills,” Joseph Cueto said. “It’s telling how some in the Legislature love running to the courts when they know they don’t have the support to override a veto.”
The state Democratic Party’s chair, Richard Ellenberg, hammered Martinez, saying she “proves again that she can’t do her job correctly.”
“In this case, it means that Democratic efforts to increase opportunity for New Mexicans and build our economy prevailed,” Ellenberg said. “We urge Governor Martinez to accept the outcome of this decision.”
This article has been updated to include Cueto’s comments and to clarify that the secretary of state hasn’t yet been ordered to declare the bills law.