Legislative Roundup: Feb. 27

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Teresa Marie Garicia celebrates winning an award with friends and family following The Community Heroes Award Ceremony sponsored by the New Mexico Coalition against Domestic Violence Tuesday at the Capitol Rotunda. Photo by Gabriela Campos/The New Mexican

Legislative Roundup: Feb. 27

By The Santa Fe New Mexican:

Days remaining in the session: 17

Regents appointed: You’d better believe the head of the New Mexico Beef Council is an Aggie. And soon she will probably sit on the board of regents of New Mexico State University.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday tapped Dina Chacón-Reitzel for the seat.

Chacón-Reitzel has been executive director of the beef council for 30 years and has a master’s degree in business administration from NMSU.

She will sit alongside another new appointee, Ammu Devasthali, a prominent patron of the arts in Las Cruces. She will serve a four-year term. Chacón-Reitzel will serve a six-year term.

Lujan Grisham also named Luke Sanchez to serve as the student regent for the next two years. He is a student researcher at the NMSU Howard Hughes Medical Institute pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology.

Lujan Grisham also appointed Yolanda Jones King to a six-year term on the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents.

King retired in 2014 from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. She has since worked at a senior technical and programmatic adviser for Engility Corp. She has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of New Mexico.

And Lujan Grisham appointed Veronica Espinoza to serve a two-year term as the student regent at New Mexico Tech. She is studying chemical engineering with a minor in explosives engineering.

See ya: Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell walked out of a committee hearing on Tuesday, saying the chairwoman had suppressed her attempts to ask questions about a gun bill.

Ezzell, R-Roswell, jousted verbally with Democrats over Senate Bill 8, which would require background checks in many private sales of guns. She repeated arguments against the bill, saying it would violate the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens while doing nothing to keep guns out of the hands of lawbreakers.

Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Española, replied that the bill’s intent is to prevent mentally ill people or those with a history of domestic violence from purchasing a firearm.

“This bill does nothing to violate the Second Amendment,” Martinez said to Ezzell and the rest of the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee. “It’s the right thing to do. It’s about saving lives.”

Ezzell later veered to discussing marijuana use and gun violence. The committee chairwoman, Democratic Rep. Liz Thomson of Albuquerque, told Ezzell she was off topic, as marijuana had nothing to do with the bill.

Ezzell complained that she was being treated unfairly. She noisily picked up her personal items and walked out of the hearing room.

But she returned in time to be on the losing end of a 3-2 vote. The bill moves forward to the House Judiciary Committee.

No calls: The state House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill to prohibit telemarketers from calling personal cellphones.

House Bill 424, by Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo, would amend the state’s law on telephone solicitations to reflect the growing use of cellphones.

McQueen’s bill cleared the House without dissent. It advances to the Senate.

Holiday bill advances: The House of Representatives has voted 47-12 for a bill that would create a state holiday in honor of the late U.S. Sen. Dennis Chávez and the late labor leader Cesar Chavez.

The measure, House Bill 34, next goes to the Senate for consideration.

New Mexico now has 10 legal holidays. Adding another would increase holiday hours for state workers to 88.

All 12 votes against the bill were by Republicans. Four Republicans joined with Democrats in supporting it.

Derrick Williams, 8, holds his mother Teresa Marie Garicia's award following The Community Heroes Award Ceremony sponsored by the New Mexico Coalition against Domestic Violence Tuesday at the Capitol Rotunda. Garcia was nominated by S.A.F.E. House as an advocate for fighting against Domestic Violence in the state. Photo by Gabriela Campos/The New Mexican