Legislative Roundup: March 8

by Reporter / Mar 08, 2019 / 0 comments
Scene Thursday at the Roundhouse. Courtesy/SFNM

Legislative Roundup: March 8

SFNM News:

Days remaining in the session: 8

Bee advocacy: State senators voted 30-3 Thursday to authorize a new specialty license plate for supporters of "pollinator protection".

The plates would be produced on demand, said Republican Sen. Sander Rue of Albuquerque, sponsor of Senate Bill 234. One would cost $25 initially. Renewals would be $15.

A portion of that money would be transferred to the state Department of Transportation for pollinator-protection efforts, such as demonstration gardens and planting roadside vegetation.

Senators who voted against the bill objected to the number of specialized license plates already in use, saying they make it harder on police to determine what state they are from.

The bill advances to the House of Representatives.

Patient protections: The House voted 40-24 along party lines for a bill on health insurance that would protect patients with pre-existing conditions. Democrats outnumber Republicans in the House 46-24.

Rep. Liz Thomson, D-Albuquerque, said House Bill 436 is designed to ensure those patients have coverage if efforts are successful to change or repeal the federal Affordable Care Act.

The bill goes to the Senate for consideration.

House claims traveling trophy: House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, deployed eight of his members to claim the trophy for winning Wednesday night's charity basketball game with the Senate.

The House of Representatives declared victory in the abbreviated game. Senators had to leave the court to vote on bills after a filibuster led to them being summoned in what is known as "a call of the Senate."

The Senate delayed sending over the trophy, given that its players had no choice but to leave the game. Egolf was unmoved.

"The Senate has not yet accepted the reality of last night's defeat," he said.

Then he sent members of the House to present the Senate with a runner-up prize -- a silver tissue box with an engraved message: "Because second place is still first loser."

Egolf said the score of the disputed game was 19-6. The Senate had won the game for five consecutive years until this controversial finish.

Distilled vote: Senators on Thursday voted 36-3 for a bill creating a preferential tax rate for craft distillers of spirituous liquor. With it, distilleries would be taxed similarly to the preferential rate for microbreweries.

Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, declined to participate in the vote, saying he and his brother-in-law are in the process of opening a distillery.

Pirtle said he would use milk sugar from his dairy to make vodka.

Spell check: The House of Representatives in 1955 approved a memorial suggesting that a bridge spanning the Rio Grande on U.S. 550 be named after Bernalillo winemaker Giovanni Giorgio Rinaldi. But the plaque read "George Rinaldi Sr. Memorial Bridge."

The marker was removed or stolen years ago. So this year, Rep. Derrick Lente, D-Sandia Pueblo, introduced a memorial asking the state Transportation Commission to place another plaque on the bridge with the correct name.

The House approved that memorial and 17 others in one broad, unanimous vote. The others covered such recommendations as recognizing the importance of Amtrak in New Mexico and studying the number of adults enrolled in the public school system.

Coyotes get a chance: A bill outlawing coyote-killing contests in the state is heading to the House Judiciary Committee now that the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee voted 3-1 to move the bill forward. SB 76 makes organizing a killing contest a misdemeanor and participating in any such contest a petty misdemeanor. Residents and ranchers could still kill all the coyotes they wanted in any season, provided they didn't violate the bill's main provisions.

The three Democrats on the committee voted to advance the bill. Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, voted against it.

Quote of the day:

"Legislative sessions -- particularly 60-day ones -- are like novels. We're just getting to the midway point, and we're far from the final chapter." -- House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, speaking to reporters about how this year's session is going.

Scene Thursday at the Roundhouse. Courtesy/SFNM

Scene Thursday at the Roundhouse. Courtesy/SFNM

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