Rep. Jim Hall
By Carol A. Clark
Just before returning home to White Rock after the close of the 2012 Legislative Session Thursday, Rep. Jim Hall shared his thoughts on the last 30 days at the state capitol.
“While you’re in the midst of it, it’s sort of a blur,” Hall said. “The primary purpose of the 30-day session is to get a budget passed and we got a pretty good budget passed ($5.65 billion.) There are always other things you would like to see in there but it’s a pretty good budget – it could have been worse.”
To the relief of many, lawmakers passed the balanced budget without raising taxes.
Legislators also passed a bill to lower taxes for New Mexico’s construction and manufacturing industries. They passed legislation as well that requires out-of-state corporations to file state tax returns in the same way required of in-state corporations, which will potentially raise their tax liability. The bill also lowers the state’s corporate income-tax rate, a measure the governor has vowed to veto.
Also approved is Senate Bill 9 that requires out-of-state big-box retailers with stores 30,000 square feet or larger to file state corporate income-tax returns in the same way as in-state corporations.
A measure that causes corrupt public officials to lose their pensions also passed.
As in the 2011 session, lawmakers failed to pass a controversial bill to repeal a 2003 law that allows the state to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.
Lawmakers failed to approve legislation to end the social promotion of third-graders who aren’t proficient in reading. They failed as well a bill that tied evaluations of public school teachers to student test scores.
Pension reform failed to pass in this session, which addressed the $10 million shortfall needed to pay current and future retirees in the state’s two public retirement systems, the Public Employees Retirement Association and the Educational Retirement Board.
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez publicly commended the Democrat-controlled Legislature for approving three proposed constitutional amendments, that with voter approval in November, could help reform the Public Regulation Commission.
“All in all it was a pretty good session,” Hall said. “It could have been better, but it could have been worse, too, so I can’t complain.”
Last year the governor appointed Hall, also a Republican, to fill a vacancy in House District 43, which includes Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Sandoval counties, after the death of longtime Rep. Jeannette Wallace.
“This has been very much a learning session,” Hall said. “I had seen a lot of it when I served in the cabinet (Johnson administration) but it’s very different from inside. You really learn about the process and you really learn about the people – and both really matter.”