Legislature 2020

Roundhouse Roundup

– New Mexican staff report
Posted 2/1/20

Days remaining in session: 20

Smoking bill clears committee: The Senate Public Affairs Committee on Friday afternoon voted in favor of legislation that would raise the legal smoking age …

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Legislature 2020

Roundhouse Roundup

Posted

Days remaining in session: 20

Smoking bill clears committee: The Senate Public Affairs Committee on Friday afternoon voted in favor of legislation that would raise the legal smoking age to 21 and create new rules meant to stop e-cigarette companies from attracting kids.

Senate Bill 131, the Tobacco Products Act, would would ban flavored e-cigarette and tobacco products in an effort to stop kids from vaping or smoking and make e-cigarettes and e-liquids regulated by the state, requiring licensing fees and penalties of up to $10,000 for violations.

The legislation is backed by the American Heart Association but opposed by the vaping industry. It now moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.

A new vote for Trump?: Julian Gutierrez, wearing a camouflage Trump hat, a red T-shirt emblazoned with an eagle and a pistol firmly holstered on his hip, registered to vote as a U.S. citizen for the first time at the National Rifle Association's Roundhouse rally Friday. He has lived in the U.S. since 1972.

Gutierrez was born in Juárez, Mexico, and has worked for an oil and gas company in Raton since 2002. He became a legal permanent resident in 1976 and a U.S. citizen in January, he said.

"Yeah, some processes take forever, but if you really want it, you’ll do it,” Gutierrez said. "And I do believe that a wall should be built — the border should be protected. And if you want to come to this country, do it legally and it’s possible."

Tax credit outreach: The state Taxation and Revenue Department is mailing more than 14,000 letters to New Mexico taxpayers who might have qualified for the state's Working Families Tax Credit but did not claim it.

New Mexico residents could be eligible for $4 million in potential credits that might not have been claimed, according to the tax department. More than 200,000 state residents may qualify for the tax credit in 2019.

Professional licenses for all: A Senate bill that would allow any New Mexico resident to receive an professional license, regardless of residency status, received unanimous support Friday from the Senate Public Affairs Committee.

Senate Bill 137, sponsored by Democratic Sens. Jerry Ortiz y Pino and Javier Martínez of Albuquerque, now advances to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

New gas tax: The House Taxation and Revenue Committee on Friday advanced a proposed gasoline surtax sponsored by state Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Santa Fe, on a vote of 8-4 along party lines.

House Bill 173 would impose a gradually increasing surtax, starting at 10 cents per gallon July 1, 2021. The measure includes a rebate program for low-income residents and would create an infrastructure fund to help reduce air pollution from transportation — for such efforts as public transportation and electric vehicle charging stations.

Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, decried the proposal. “I am shocked that the Democrats are continuing to burden wage earning New Mexico families with increased taxes," he said in a statement. “What’s even more concerning is that HB 173 seeks to divert the gas tax revenue away from our roads. Our roads are in desperate need of repair.”

Quote of the day: "Now you better get this right. I'll hunt you down." — Andra Stradling, a Farmington resident at the NRA rally Friday at the Capitol, speaking with a New Mexican reporter. (She hugged the reporter after professing her love for the state of Israel, however.)

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