After a marathon session that lasted until 6:00 am Saturday Morning, today’s session was a breath of fresh air recessing at 10:20 pm. House legislator will not meet on Sunday! For the most part the House is done listening to House Bills, starting Monday the majority of our committee and floor debates will be on senate bills.
HB 68 – Criminal Code Changes
This started for me on January 23rd. Attempting to negotiate the bad portions of this bill out. This bill WAS a horrendous bill with an Executive Memo from the governor. So first, what this bill originally wanted: 1) Extend School Zone from the property line to 1,000 feet beyond for and made it illegal to carry a gun in that extended zone; 2) made it unlawful for a person under the age of 19 to carry a handgun and made the penalty a fourth-degree felony; 3) a serious violent felon would be guilty of a second-degree felony; amongst other things.
So, 18 days after my first debate on this bill until now, we House Republicans have been successful in removing the extended school zone, returns the penalty for a youth with firearm (assuming no ill intent or criminal action) back to current statute of a misdemeanor, ensures that serious youthful offenders are tried in District Court outside of the cloak of CYFD, therefore, their files will not be sealed.
I voted yes after all of the amendments were made. This bill passed the house and I am so thankful we were able to make the much needed changes.
HB 104 – Venture Capital Program Act
Creates a Venture Capital Fund. Yes, another bill creating an avenue for the “State Bank” concept. It appropriates $35 million to be operated by the New Mexico Finance Authority. This is an “early-stage investment” bill. Key Issues: 1 out of 10 Venture Capital Projects fail and funding will focus on “No to Zero Credit Ratings”; what could go wrong?
I voted no on this bill; it passed the house.
HB 144 – Commercial Driver’s License Requirement
This bill changes the commercial driver’s license requirements to align with federal law. Specifically, it disqualifies individuals from holding a CDL for life if they are convicted of using a commercial vehicle in the commission of a human trafficking felony.
In addition, it aligns renewal of a CDL with the renewal of non-commercial driver’s license.
HB 134 – Change Focus of Sports Authority
Appropriates $ 1 million for the Sports Authority Division of the Tourism Department. It reduces the existing committee from 25 members to 7. This authority role is to develop an overall strategic plan for recruiting and retaining forms of professional and amateur sporting events.
HB 164a/cs – Uranium Mine Cleanup
A new program to perform abandoned uranium mine reclamation. The House Energy Committee Substitute cleaned up language to ensure coordination between agencies.
HB 43/a – Charter School Facility Improvements
Creates authority for the public project revolving fund to provide loans to charter schools.
HB 171 – Rural Air Service Enhancement Grant Changes
This bill makes changes to previous legislation that now provides an opportunity for Lea County to qualify for grants.
HB 102 – Entity-Level Tax Income & Payment
This bill creates a new option for individual taxpayers that would allow them to continue to claim a full deduction for state and local taxes. This is a good bill.
HB 145 Child Welfare Ombudsman Act
This bill enacts and amends sections of the Children’s Code to create the Child Welfare Ombudsman (appointed officials to investigate complaints made by individuals against abuses or capricious acts of public officials) Act. Additional oversight of CYFD is needed and critical to ensuring the child’s well-being. This is a good bill and passed the house unanimously.
HB 148 Small Business Recovery Loan Applications
This bill extends the deadline for businesses to apply for a loan from the Small Business Recovery Loan Fund. Deadline is moved from May 31, 2022 to December 31, 2022. This bill passed the house unanimously.
HB 153/CS General Obligation Bond Projects
Authorizes the issuance of general obligations bonds to fund capital outlay projects. Specifically for Lea County this funds the Hobbs Senior Citizen Center to purchase a new vehicle and NMJC Vocational Trades Building Construction. I voted yes, this bill passed the house with 2 dissenting votes.
HB 243/CS Increase Pension Amount to PERA
Amends the Public Employees Retirement Act to increase the maximum amount of pension a PERA member can earn from 90% to 100% of the member’s final average salary. While this bill sounds good and probably is, the bill sponsor bypassed the bill introduction process and placed it in a “dummy (basically, a placeholder) and ran it through the committee he chairs. Members on the house floor did not have access to the Fiscal Impact Report at the time of debate, in addition this bill was not vetted through House Appropriations. Without the appropriate backup data, I voted no. It is my hope that the bill sponsors will re-introduce the bill during the 2023 60-day session and allow time for all agencies to provide their analysis for full transparency. The bill died on the house floor.