Legislators hope for quick session
March 30, 2022
CLOVIS — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has called the state Legislature back to Santa Fe for a special session slated to start April 5. Legislators wrapped up their regular session Feb. 17.
“We just have to work on three things,” said state Sen. Pat Woods, R-Broadview. “Funding this special session, introducing a bill, which should be a carbon copy of the funding bill she vetoed with her changes and a rebate for state residents.
“They should have this all worked out in advance and we should all be done in about 15 minutes,” Woods said.
House Bill 48, referred to as a “junior bill,” contained about $50.4 million in funding for projects around the state. Lujan Grisham vetoed the measure saying the bill did not “uphold principles of fiscal responsibility.”
The veto drew the ire of state Republicans and Democrats.
“This is a pure political move on her part to get back in the good graces of the legislators for vetoing a public works bill and issuing a small rebate,” Woods said.
“A $100 rebate? It costs as much to print and administer a rebate that small,” Woods said. “$100 is a small amount. So if we’re going to send out rebates let’s make them big enough.”
Woods hoped things would have turned out differently.
“I wanted to see the Legislature have the guts to call themselves back to override the governor’s veto of HB48,” Woods said. “And I would have liked the governor to have been a stout leader, stand up for what she believes in, basically saying, ‘You don’t like my veto? Come and get me.’”
“Your life is safest when the Legislature is not in session,” Republican state Rep. Jack Chatfield said, whose District 67 encompasses Quay, Union and Harding counties and parts of Curry, Roosevelt, Colfax and San Miguel counties.
“The things we put in House Bill 48 were well thought out,” Chatfield said. “She should have never vetoed that.”
“I kept good track of what she vetoed,” Chatfield said. “There was recurring funding for instance $125,000 for an extension service economist based out of Las Cruces to serve the agriculture industry in the state. $55,000 for the Quay County Health Council.”
“There was one-time funding,” Chatfield continued. “$94,000 for getting more welding booths for the welding program at Clovis Community College. You know that program has a two year waiting list? Representative (Randal) Crowder and I worked on that.”
“There was also funding for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture healthy soils program,” Chatfield said.
“I just hope the subject matter is restricted to what she vetoed,” Chatfield said of the upcoming special session.
Rep. Martin Zamora, R-Santa Rosa, was direct when asked his thoughts on the governor calling the legislators back to the Capitol.
“I don’t like it,” Zamora said. “I believe we did our job in the 30-day session.”
An item Zamora worked on, a recurring expense of $380,000 for the state’s system of weather reading stations, was changed to a one-time expense.
Zamora said the weather stations are used for New Mexico’s agriculture industry.
“In public they say we’re going back to fix the bill,” Zamora said, referring to HB 48. “The governor wants us back. It was her judgment to veto that bill and now she wants us to go back and fix it.”
“It was her call.” Zamora said. “We should leave it and let her live up to her decision.”
“I’m not surprised,” Crowder said about the call back to the Roundhouse. “Vetoing House Bill 48 was a move to get us back to Santa Fe.”
What funding items of Crowder’s were lost in the HB 48 veto?
“There was that $94,000 for the welding program at Clovis Community College,” Crowder said. “I also had a recurring expense of $180,000 to increase faculty at CCC along with $125,000 for cardio equipment at the fitness center there. There was $55,000 for the city of Clovis to clean out a drainage channel.”
“These may not be the only two items on the agenda,” Crowder continued, speaking of HB48 and a broad rebate for New Mexicans. “In a special session, the governor sets the agenda.”
“I know the governor wants to revisit the voting bill, which has more ways for people to cheat than you can imagine,” Crowder said. “There is strong concern that we don’t know what’s going to be on the agenda and there may be mischief.”
Republican District 27 Sen. Stuart Ingle weighed in on the special session as he spoke to the audience at a luncheon hosted by the Portales Chamber of Commerce.
“I think we can be in and out of there in a day,” Ingle said.
“The less we are there, the safer you are,” Ingle said, a comment that garnered some laughs from the audience.