Legislative Roundup: March 9

by Reporter / Mar 09, 2019 / 0 comments
Santa Fe High School student Jasper Rae and Steve Lipscomb carry a panel from a mural painted by students with New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence for a presentation Friday by students from around the city about gun violence in the Capitol Rotunda. Photo by Gabriela Campos/The New Mexican

Legislative Roundup: March 9

SFNM News:

Days left in the session: 7

Track wants lower tax: State Rep. Zach Cook is carrying a bill that was crafted by one of the more influential businesses in his hometown.

Ruidoso Downs Race Track is seeking a lower tax rate for the next four years. Cook said in an interview the tax break would allow for remodeling so Ruidoso Downs could remain a drawing card for the town of 8,000.

"The racetrack has fallen into disrepair," said Cook, R-Ruidoso.

So he is sponsoring House Bill 650, allowing racetrack gambling operators that have a net take of $20 million or less to reduce their taxes from 26 percent of net take to 10 percent. This lower rate would last until June 30, 2023.

Cook said his bill could get a hearing Saturday in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.

Sen. Bill Burt, R-Alamogordo, is carrying a mirror proposal, Senate Bill 579. He said the bill also would cut the tax rate for a second track, SunRay Park in Farmington.

Double negative: It's been a confrontational week in the typically cordial state Senate. An angry filibuster by Sen. Bill Sharer, R-Farmington, disrupted the Legislature's annual charity basketball game to raise money for cancer research.

With all the negativity, the English language also took a beating.

Sens. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, and Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque, each used the double negative "irregardless" in speeches Friday.

"Regardless" will do.

Celebrating a life: Members of the House of Representatives paid tribute Friday to former Rep. Morgan Nelson, who died on March 1 at 99. Nelson, who was born in Cottonwood and graduated from Roswell High School, served in the House for 12 years in the 1950s and early 1960s. He was in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Then he worked as an engineer and farmer, receiving the nickname "Mr. Cotton".

Several representatives told personal stories about Nelson. Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, said Nelson was a leader "in the water law arena, and much of what we have in place in the Pecos Valley is attributed to his service in this body."

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a proclamation honoring Nelson. She also ordered that state flags be flown at half-staff through sundown on Saturday.

Looking ahead: Military veterans and active-service personnel will be honored during Military and Veterans Day Monday at the Capitol. Lujan Grisham is scheduled to speak to them in the Rotunda.

The event will focus on those who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Quote of the day:

"I brewed beer one time and it looked delicious and it smelled delicious and it tasted awful." -- Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, while explaining House Bill 489, which would revise the excise tax rate for micro-brewers. The House of Representatives approved his bill, 59-2.

Rachel Pearson, 17, center left, applauds and Camille Cooper, 16, cheers Friday while reacting to a brief speech by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in the Capitol Rotunda during a student presentation on gun violence. Photo by Gabriela Campos/The New Mexican


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