SINE DIE - New Mexico Legislative Session Ends Without Drama
The 2023 New Mexico Legislative Session came to an end at noon on Saturday and without a lot of drama in the closing hours.
Despite not getting all of what they wanted to accomplish, House Democrats said it was a good and productive session.
House leadership pointed to accomplishments like getting Benny’s Bill passed that makes it a crime to negligently allow children access to a firearm, closing the straw gun purchase loophole, bills to fight organized retail crime and the Law Enforcement Workforce Building Funds to recruit and retain local police officers as ways the legislature was working to keep New Mexicans safe.
House Speaker Javier Martinez says he believes the legislature was able to do a lot to address public safety.
“Organized retail crime is big. It’s a huge issue in every city across New Mexico, not just the big cities but every city across New Mexico, in every community, as well as our gun safety laws,” he said. “Benny’s Bill is a labor of love, I know for Rep. Herndon and so many others and the straw purchases bill as well. Those are two very important pieces of legislation. Packaged together along with all the other positive things we did within the budget specifically in education and child care, investments in behavioral health, those are all part of the equation. I’m very proud of how much our chamber, our legislature delivered with regard to public safety.”
House leaders also celebrated education reform changes including extending the school year and making changes to high school graduation requirements that gave more flexibility to local districts in what they wanted to require.
The legislature also approved the Voting Rights Act which supporters say will go far to encourage more people to participate in the electoral process.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says despite not getting all the legislation through Roundhouse that she was hoping for, it was still a productive session.
She says the current environment at Roundhouse is the best it has been in a long time. Lujan Grisham credits that to a post-pandemic atmosphere that allows more face to face discussions and a change of leadership in the House on both the Democratic and Republican sides.
There were about 40 public safety related bills introduced during the session and about ten were priorities for the Governor.
She says she’s not disappointed more didn’t get done but is motivated for the future.
The biggest issue in the closing days of the session was the omnibus tax plan which went to a conference committee with the House and Senate working out a deal that was voted on and approved by both Chambers on Saturday, hours ahead of the end of the session.
However, Lujan Grisham says she needs to take a closer look at the final deal before deciding if she’ll sign it into law.
“This is another one where I signaled that I was uncomfortable with the amount we were spending and whether or not it was sustainable and both chambers spent an incredible amount of time trying to make those adjustments, put triggers in, to get those safeguards, that’s what a Governor needs,” she said. “I asked for some safeguards, some re-evaluation. They did that, they made sure that, something that does job creation. That brings money into the budget. It is a lot, there’s a lot in there.”
Lujan Grisham says she was very happy to see lawmakers from both parties come together and work out a deal on Medical Malpractice reform. She says while she doesn’t anticipate any reasons for a special session this year, she would have called one if there wasn’t a medical malpractice deal.