Update from the Legislative Session - 2016
The thirty-day legislative session ended last week. Here are some accomplishments for District 25 and the State of New Mexico. Our main focus was the budget. Unfortunately, state finances are in real trouble due primarily to low oil and gas prices. The budget passed and sent to the Governor reduces spending for next year by around $100 million dollars. It taps reserves, uses fund sweeps and cuts most state agency budgets by 2%. While I voted for this budget, I did so with serious reservations. Making government more efficient is only one part of the solution. We cannot rule out raising revenues. Eliminating some of the billion dollars in tax deductions, credits and exemptions must be considered. I sponsored a wide range of legislation in 2016. The complete list, with action taken, can be found at www.nmlegis.gov. Here are some highlights:
SJR 1 Bail reform
This constitutional amendment will give judges the authority to hold dangerous defendants charged with felonies without bail. Non dangerous defendants who are not a flight risk and are otherwise eligible for bail cannot be detained pre-trial solely because they are financially unable to post bond. SJR 1 passed both chambers by large numbers after all parties compromised on language. Voters in November will decide whether to adopt these changes.
SB 11 Campaign Finance Fix
Proposed updates to unconstitutional provisions in our campaign code and required independent expenditure committees to disclose donors. Despite an extremely late start due to a delayed message from the Governor, SB 11 passed the Senate unanimously. Unfortunately, it never received a hearing in the House. While it is frustrating that this bill continues to stall at the last minute, I will not give up.
SB 22 Corporate Tax Fix
Sponsored with Rep. Jason Harper, Republican House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, this bill required multi-state companies selling intangible personal property to accurately report New Mexico sales. Notwithstanding a unanimous endorsement from the interim tax committee, SB 22 died in Senate Finance after a group of multi-state companies who use this loophole lobbied successfully to kill the bill.
SB 155 Uniform Powers of Appointment Act
Codifies case law on powers of appointment used in estate planning and updates non-uniform provisions in our probate code. It passed both chambers unanimously and awaits signature on the Governor's desk.
Here is a link to my list of capital outlay projects. As I do every year, I allocated funding primarily among the local governmental entities in Santa Fe. While there is no question the capital outlay system needs improvement, the Santa Fe legislative delegation again worked together to prioritize and fully fund projects.
My committee assignments as Chair of Senate Conservation and as a member of Senate Judiciary offered a platform to have real input on many of the key issues we face. The Senate acted as the deliberative body this session working hard to find bipartisan solutions to a range of issues.
Your input is always important, and I appreciate the calls, e-mails and letters received during the session. There was overwhelming opposition to taxing out-of-state art sales and changing lottery percentages. I received almost five hundred emails from constituents in Senate District 25 asking me to support ridesharing legislation for companies like Uber. Finally, the call for a Real ID fix to our driver's license came from constituents of all political stripes. Hearing directly from you makes these tough votes a lot easier.
Thank you again for granting me the privilege of representing you in the Legislature.