Robin Reed on the Legislative Session of 2019

Robin Reed spoke at the RPLA’s meeting on May 2. Here are the notes from her presentation!

“I’m the secretary for the Santa Fe GOP, and also Recording Secretary for the SFFRW, …..and I’m here to say I had an amazing experience working for the Legislature! I moved to NM almost 2 years ago, and never could have imagined that I’d be working in the Roundhouse. When the call for applicants came up, I knew it would be a great learning experience, along with my involvement with both Republican groups.I was selected to work for Senator Bill Burt (Alamogordo), as his secretary.He’s a 9 yr. member of the Senate, and also on the Senate Finance committee. He’s very well respected among his peers, and he was very patient with me during my learning curve! You see, I’m an interior designer. We worked in a large room with (8) other Senators, their secretaries, and (7) bill analysts. Many of the secretaries and analysts were seasoned employees, returning year after year. Thus, I had the best teachers possible, and we all supported each other. It was really like a big family.Definitely fast paced & even crazy at times….but you realize quickly that it’s an honor to serve the State, & you are often the 1st point of contact for constituents, lobbyists, and visitors to the Capitol.”

Now for a some highlights of the 2019 Session:

These notes are taken from wrap up reports, by Diane Kinderwater, Director of Communications for the NM Republican Senate*2019

Session began w/record surplus – due to our booming oil/gas industry *Session ended with $7.1 billion balanced budget*It’s also projected we’ll have another billion $ surplus this year, to start the 2020 Session-Critical to weather the ups ad downs of the U.S. economy, as well as strife around globe that could affect our oil/gas prices*The Senate worked hard NOT to overspend – so as to protect these heavy reserves*The bulk of the budget money is going to Education & Road Maintenance in the state*Over ½ billion for Education & $389 million investment in 2019 & 2020 for the roads

2019 Legislative Session Highlights*Sen Minority Leader Stuart Ingle – relatively happy with overall outcome of Session *Sen Minority Caucus Chair – Steve Neville, also agreed he thought it was a decent Session*This in spite of the fact that Republicans were in the minority in both Houses….under an also fully Democrat-led Governor’s Office*It’s first time in 8 years that the Democrats are in control of all branches

Education*Public education investments will include pay raises for teachers & educators-this is viewed as a + to draw more teachers to New Mexico*However, this also includes raises for administrators…..which could have been better used for some of the educational programs*

Overall approval of education funds promises to bring efficiencies & accountabilities to pre-K Programs and also to K-12 Programs, which will up the opportunities for the most disadvantaged students…& fund deficiencies found in Yazzie Martinez court order.*As well – new Cabinet agency, Early Childhood Education & Care, will be put in place – oversee all programs for infants/young children….that were previously scattered among many state agencies…with less than adequate checks & balances.*Sen Ingle is glad we’re putting strong emphasis on education….but he cautioned that parents need to be involved & take serious interest in their children’s education…in order for the state to be successful. He was quoted as saying, “Teachers can’t do it all.”

*Higher Education also getting an increase in funding….along with salary increases for both higher ed & state employees compensation*Additionally, $5 mil is going to vocational or Career & Technical Education Programs….to allow students to study a skill or trade, along with completing their academic course work.

Film Industry*Governor has approved $110 mil which will increase the “cash cap”….for 25% rebates on expenses for the industry*Also filming in rural areas will receive even bigger rebates*Noted that NM Film Partners will not be subject to a cap*Critics of this increase say that continuing to subsidize the film industry only sends money to out-of-state corporations*However, this industry has been great for NM’s economy & with Netflix bringing a production hub to Albuquerque – the future is bright!

Business*The minimum wage bill was passed to gradually increase the wage to $12/hr, over a period of years (not sure of the time span)*SB10 got a unanimous vote & was signed by the Governor…doubling the funds for the Small Business Investment Corporation….approving $50 milion to new & growing businesses in NM

Gun Legislation*Another contentious bill SB8 – Passed — requiring background checks on firearm purchases, including private gun sales*Some Legislators, including 27 NM County Sheriffs – do not support restrictions on the 2nd Amend. — saying this bill will not be enforceable.*House Republicans have now joined New Mexico Sheriffs to begin process of overturning this anti 2nd Amendment bill.

Tax Increase*A disappointment this Session is the $70 mil tax increase to New Mexicans*Republicans, being in the minority of votes, could NOT defeat this bill in the final minutes of the Session*Those voting against the tax increase (including 15 Rep Senators), feel it’s completely unnecessary due to the budget surplus, & are concerned that the increase will really hurt New Mexico families.

Elections*Same day voter registration was passed through SB672. All 16 Rep Senators voted against this bill*HB55 – the bill to elect a President by popular vote – Passed. Again, all 16 Rep Senators voted against this*A bill proposing open primaries(where independent voters could cast a ballot in primary elections) – FAILED to pass.

*HB356 – supporting recreational cannabis was DEFEATED*many concerns about protecting children, not allowing public consumption, & whether to give the state & law enforcement more control over roadside testing & onsite use in licensed facilities.

*SB489 – Energy Transition Act – PASSED*raises NM’s renewable portfolio standard to 50% by 2030, & 80% by 2040….also requires 100% carbon-free energy by 2045, for investor-owned utilities.*This bill is also supposed to provide substantial money for economic & workforce support, for communities impacted by coal plant closures. It remains to be seen.AND….

*HB51 was soundly defeated in the Senate, by all Republicans, + (8) Democrat Senators. *This emotionally charged bill did not come to a floor vote until 2 days before the Session ended. Thousands of constituents from all over the state called in to their Legislators, as well as to the Gov’s office to voice their opposition to this bill.

*A press notice came out from Gov’s office, the last week of Session, stating that 98% of New Mexicans were against HB51, with only 2% for the bill.For more info:http://nmlegis.gov stuart.ingle@nmlegis.govsteven.neville@nmlegis.gov

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