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March 4, 2023

Updated: Jan 26


HJR 8 – Legislative , CA

Proposes to amend Article 4 of the state Constitution to create a permanent Citizen Commission on Legislative Salaries to establish and limit salaries of legislators. Calls for a voter referendum to reject or annul the findings of the Commission. Basically, the progressives want to get paid!

Amendments were offered that would:

• Keep legislators from drawing 2 salaries at the same time

• Keep legislator salaries no higher that the statewide median household income ( as of right now that would be $54k )

Both amendments were found to be unfriendly.

Please review the following statistics for the State of New Mexico against the other 50 states and Washington D.C. and decide for yourself if state legislators need a raise.

K-12 Education – 51st

Violent Crime - 50th

Right to Work – 50th

Sales Tax Burden – 49th

Public Employees Per 10,000 Population – 41st

Poverty Level – 48th

Welfare Dependency – 49th

Unemployment Rate – 50th

Spending Per Capita – 42nd

Debt Ranking – 40th

If this constitutional amendment were to pass, after that point, NM voters would have no say in legislator’s salary.

Unfortunately, this bill passed the house on a partisan vote of 40 – 24. I voted no.

HB 139/cs – Eliminating Court Fees

This bill makes gender neutral language changes throughout the statute. Requires a court to allow payment plans on fines (therefore it removes judicial discretion). Allows job training, school attendance and/or social service/rehabilitation programs to count towards community service. Allows for persons performing community service to receive twice the state minimum hourly wage and persons who are confined to earn credit towards fees, fines and costs at a rate of 24 times the state minimum hourly rate.

If chaptered, it will definitely pay to break the law.

This bill passed the house on a bipartisan vote of 42 – 18. I voted no.

HB 314/aa – Cannabis Record Expungement

Specifies that the automatic procedure of expungement for cannabis-related criminal records and arrest records applies to court or agency records involving only cannabis and cannabis paraphernalia charges and requires destruction of the records. Directs the Administrative Office of the Courts to implement a confidential procedure allowing persons charged with expungement eligible offenses to verify whether automatic expungement has occurred in fact and allow those persons to request expedited automatic expungement.

HB 533/cs – School Group Insurance Contributions

This legislation sets the amount that school districts, charters schools, etc. must provide as the employers’ share of school employees’ health insurance coverage. These new limits match the same limits that employers of state and public employees are currently providing.

The new limits for school employers are: 1) at least 80 percent of the cost of insurance for employees whose annual salary is less than $50,000; 2) at least 70 percent of the cost of insurance of an employee whose annual salary is $50,000 but less than $60,000; 3) at least 60 percent of the cost of insurance of an employee whose annual salary is $60,000 or more.

This bill passed the house on a bipartisan vote 44 - 16. I voted no, I believe benefits should be the same across the board or improve with time and commitment. This bill does not reward longevity.

HB 550/cs – Warrant Backlog Reduction

This bill creates the Warrant Backlog Reduction Committee, administratively attached to the Department of Finance and Administration, to award grants to courts and public safety entities to reduce outstanding felony warrants. The funds come from GF appropriations to DFA pursuant to the General Appropriation Act of 2023.

Unfortunately, the lions share of the money in this bill will go to Bernalillo County. That said, some will trickle down to Lea County.

This bill passed the house. I voted yes.

Email: rpettigrew@randallpettigrew.com

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