Legislature 2020

Roundhouse Roundup, Feb. 11: Money for census, early ed bill advances

New Mexican staff
Posted 2/11/20

Days remaining in session: 10

Comeback for ex-senator: The Senate on Monday voted 37-5 to confirm former Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez to the State Board of Finance.

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Legislature 2020

Roundhouse Roundup, Feb. 11: Money for census, early ed bill advances

Posted

Days remaining in session: 10

Comeback for ex-senator: The Senate on Monday voted 37-5 to confirm former Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez to the State Board of Finance.

Senators from both political parties praised Sanchez, D-Belen, during a congenial discussion on the Senate floor. This differed from a debate in the Senate Rules Committee, where Sen. Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque, gave a blistering critique of Sanchez as a senator.

"You did not treat the minority [party] well. You were incredibly vindictive," Moores said.

The committee chairwoman, Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, threatened to rule Moores out of order, but he persisted. After they had talked over one another, committee members voted 5-3 to send Sanchez's nomination to the full Senate.

Outside the committee room, Sanchez had a tart response to Moores' comments: "That's the kind of guy he is."

Governor signs census bill: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday signed Senate Bill 4, which provides $8 million to ensure the state conducts an accurate census count of its citizens this year.

The money will be used to hire more door-to-door census takers and to initiate local, multilinguistic outreach programs to educate the public about the importance of participating in the census, which begins in mid-March.

Early ed fund advances: The House voted 51-14 to approve a new endowment to provide a revenue stream for early childhood services.

House Bill 83, sponsored by Rep. Doreen Gallegos, D-Las Cruces, and Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, has the governor's support, and an identical measure already has passed the full Senate. The measures call for an initial appropriation of $320 million for the early childhood trust fund, but the state budget passed by the House, House Bill 2, includes only $300 million for it.

That could change when the spending bill makes its way through the Senate.

Term limits tabled: The Senate Judiciary Committee tabled a resolution that would have extended the terms for senators to six years from four years and extended the terms for House seats to four years from two years.

In addition, Senate Joint Resolution 5, sponsored by Sen. Ron Griggs, R-Alamogordo, would have limited the tenure for state lawmakers to a total of 24 consecutive years.

The move likely kills the measure for the session, which ends at noon Feb. 20.

Most senators on the committee said voters determine whether to limit a lawmaker's term every time there is an election.

LEDA reporting moves ahead: The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-1 to approve a bill requiring firms benefiting from the Local Economic Development Act's job-creation fund to report the number of new full-time jobs they created with help of grants from the program and the total amount of wages they paid.

Senate Bill 52 was introduced by Sen. Bill Tallman, D-Albuquerque.

Looking ahead: Members of the Senate and House of Representatives will face off in the annual Hoops 4 Hope basketball game, which raises money for cancer patients, at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 11) at Santa Fe Indian School, 1501 Cerrillos Road. The patient care fund of the University of New Mexico's Comprehensive Cancer Center estimates the annual game has raised $200,000 since 2007.

Last year, the Senate had to forfeit the game when one of its members called the team back to the Roundhouse to debate a bill.

Sen. Bill O'Neill, D-Albuquerque, a member of the Senate team, told his colleagues Monday they must show up for the game to retake the trophy from the House. That probably means there will be no evening Senate floor session Tuesday.

The game is open to the public, and donations will be taken at the door.

Quotes of the day: "It's rare that the person who sues the agency ends up leading the agency." — Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, after Corrections Secretary Alisha Tafoya Lucero's Senate confirmation Monday on a vote of 36-0. Tafoya Lucero had filed a suit against the department in 2013, claiming a fellow deputy warden at the time, a man with less experience, had far higher pay. She recently received $195,000 to settle her suit.

"There is absolutely nothing in life that irritates me more than having frozen butter with warm toast.” — Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, during a hearing on a bill on food service sanitation fees. Smith said he received cold butter while eating recently at Tia Sophia’s in Santa Fe.

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