On the last full day, the sun rose on Wednesday 30-day New Mexico Legislature for 2022with lawmakers questioning agreement on a fiscal 2023 budget and the fate of many bills, including an omnibus voting rights and election security package.
The proposed budget of nearly $8.5 billion goes to a conference committee after the state House of Representatives rejected an amended Senate bill on Tuesday. If the chambers don’t agree on a budget before close of business, the governor could call a special session to set next year’s budget.
Lawmakers worked late Tuesday night to complete work and approval of a bill on omnibus crime, a proposal to cap interest rates on payday loans and the election and voting package, among other things.
SB 144, originally a proposal that made threatening or intimidating poll workers a crime, was turned into a omnibus package on Tuesday, as parts of two other bills, one dealing with election changes and the other with voting rights, at 165 pages were added change.
The 2022 regular session of the New Mexico unpaid part-time Legislature ends Thursday at 12 p.m.
The debate on the Clean Fuel Standard continues
State Rep. Daymon Ely, D-Corrales, proposed an amendment to the clean fuel standard bill, SB 14, which would allow the San Juan power plant to operate a year beyond its June shutdown date. The amendment was passed unopposed by the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee.
Prior to Ely’s amendment, it had passed the Senate by a vote of 25 to 16.
An earlier measure to extend the operation of the coal-fired power plant by two more years was rejected by the House of Representatives On Monday.
Senate Bill 14 would provide tax incentives to fuel manufacturers to encourage lower-carbon fuel production and is sponsored by Mimi Stewart, Pro Tempore of the Albuquerque Democratic Senate. At Wednesday’s hearing, she dismissed claims by MP Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, that it would cause fuel prices to rise significantly and said there was a global market for producing cleaner fuels.
State Representative Nathan Small, D-Las Cruces, who carried the House bill, asked questions as noon approached, opening the final 24 hours of the session. It was approved by the committee with a vote of 5:3.
progress on the budget
It took less than 10 minutes for a conference committee chaired by Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, to come up with a voted proposal that was approved by the House of Representatives and then the Senate on Wednesday afternoon.
The six-member committee included three members from each chamber. Lundstrom and Reps were out of the house. Gail Armstrong, R-Magdalena and Nathan Small, D-Las Cruces. From the Senate: George Muñoz, D-Gallup, Siah Correa Hemphill, D-Silver City and Crystal Diamond, R-Elephant Butte.
The committee quickly approved five budget law amendments, including the distribution of $125 million that had been allocated for a hydrogen energy hub, with $50 million for a public-private partnership program and $75 million for the cash reserve provided by the state.
Two amendments were rejected after opposition from Senate members of the conference committee. One would have provided $30 million for rural health care system improvements and grants for hospitals providing services in need, and the other would have provided an additional $5 million for soil and water conservation districts.
Interest on installment loans
A bill capping interest rates on consumer loans at 36 percent is on its way to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham after the House of Representatives approved a Senate amendment Version of HB 132.
After approval was approved in the House of Representatives, supporters began to applaud and cheer, but were quickly silenced by Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe.
While the bill caps interest rates on “payday” loans, it also increases the maximum amount of such loans from $5,000 to $10,000 for up to two years. It also limits interest and prohibits wage garnishment for repayment.
Supporters hailed the bill’s provisions, which target the industry’s predatory lending and collection practices, while critics warned it would erect credit barriers for people who may not be eligible for loans from banks or credit unions.
Support for non-English speakers
New Mexico is a culturally and linguistically diverse state, and a measure on the way to governorship is to ensure that non-English speakers receive assistance from agencies that distribute medical and social services.
HB 22 would require Departments of State to develop and implement language access programs that assist these individuals in accessing government programs. A $50,000 appropriation included in the original bill was removed before it was approved by the House of Representatives, and it passed the Senate unopposed on Wednesday.
A capital cost statement The $827.7 million appropriation was vacated by a 64-0 vote from the House of Representatives late Wednesday afternoon. Lawmakers approved the Senate version of the bill, which passed this chamber on Tuesday.
The package includes $390.4 million allocated to the governor and legislatures for local projects, as well as a transfer of $85.5 million from the Public Schools Capital Expenditure Fund to the Public Schools Facilities Authority for distribution to school districts for maintenance.
Read a list of projects by district here. The story continues below:
The house also agreed a separate invoice New approval of 147 investment projects funded between 2016 and 2021 that did not involve any new expenditure.
The House of Representatives continued its business while the Senate Judiciary Committee met elsewhere in the Roundhouse. This story may not be updated again on Wednesday.