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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Piecing Together What Happened Last Night at the NM Legislature

NMI's live blog is happening here. On Twitter, search for #roundhouse to follow everyone who's Tweeting the session.

As I sip my first cup of coffee after a good night's sleep, I'm checking the vital live blogging and Tweeting of the New Mexico Independent Roundhouse team and others who have endured a day and night of sometimes frenzied, sometimes dull, activity in the New Mexico House and Senate during the last hours of the 30-day session in Santa Fe. It ends at noon today. This is the kind of down and dirty, on-the-scene endurance-reporting that, for the most part, other "traditional" news sources have long abandoned in favor of lazily feeding us dribs and drabs of filtered and incomplete info meant only to amuse or titillate or serve a political agenda.

If you don't appreciate what the NMI Roundhouse team has been doing for a couple sessions now, you haven't been paying attention. They are creating a record of committee and floor action that's unparalleled in New Mexico. Yes, the new video and audio feeds provided by the House and Senate are incredibly helpful, but they aren't archived, so they don't constitute any kind of permanent record of what went on. With NMI's almost constant coverage -- including their marathon yesterday until about 4:00 AM -- we can reconstruct a lot of what goes down, whether it takes place during the day or in the wee, wee hours. In addition, the NM Senate's Twitter feed @NMSenate has been pounding out the facts on what's being discussed and voted on.

They're back at now, and have been since about 7:00 AM.

The House went until about 4:00 AM but the Senate "expected a budget deal ready for them to vote on by midnight. When it didn't come, they went home."

Here are a few tidbits I've culled from quickly scanning the coverage:

It looks like any chance of melding the House and Senate budget bills into a coherent whole is gone, gone, gone. According to a Tweet by NMI this morning, Sen. John Arthur Smith, who heads the Senate Finance Committee, has said that a budget deal is "impossible" and that a special session is "a certainty." There's reportedly some talk about lawmakers calling an "extraordinary sesssion" rather than having the Governor call a special session. No idea how much support exists for that option. Update: Senators Eric Griego and Linda Lopez are saying they have the votes in the Senate to call an extraordinary session -- so legislators can call the shots instead of the Governor -- but now it's up to the House. Such a call must pass each chamber by a 3/5 super majority.

This morning, the House passed a committee substitute ethics commission bill, pretty much on a party line vote, even though ethics advocates believe it's too secretive and flawed in other ways. HJCS/HB 43, 125 & 138 was approved by a 49-15 vote. But it would have to be passed by the Senate to make it to the Governor's desk.

The Senate's bill SB 30 to add a dollar a pack cigarette tax went down in the House Business & Industry Committee by a vote of 7-8 last night, after being amended to decrease the tax to 75 cents a pack and allow tribes to levy the tax. Yesterday, the so-called "tortilla tax" SB 10, sponsored by Sen. Bernadette Sanchez, was also killed in the House.

The Governor's Hispanic Education Act, HB 150, passed both chambers and goes to his desk for signature.

The "Sunshine Portal" bill SB 195 was passed by a House vote of 65-1 and would create a database that includes the name of exempt employees -- political appointees -- but not classified employees.

I'll be posting more as the day goes on.

February 18, 2010 at 10:20 AM in NM Legislature 2010 | Permalink


Worth noting that the Governor sets the agenda for a special session but that's not the case for an extraordinary session, the agenda for which is set by the Legislature.

In either case the taxpayers will be coughing up something like $65K per day.

Posted by: Chimayóso | Feb 18, 2010 1:27:14 PM

You snooze you lose - Richardson beat them to the punch it seems http://newmexicoindependent.com/48179/richardson-special-session-to-start-wednesday

Posted by: Bill Holman | Feb 18, 2010 1:40:53 PM