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Legislative Roundup: Feb. 26

on February 26, 2019 - 6:58am
Daniel ‘DC’ Casillas of Albuquerque, who works with On Set FX, applies movie makeup to Nicole Montoya of Glorieta as part of a demonstration Monday during Film and Media Day at the Capitol in Santa Fe. Photo by Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican
By The Santa Fe New Mexican:
Days left in the session: 18
Confirmed: The Senate on Monday voted 34-0 to confirm Jackie White as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
White, 44, previously worked as a captain for the Albuquerque Fire Department. She heads the agency responsible for coordinating the state's response to emergencies and natural disasters.
It is a big job in a state that has to grapple with wildfires, flash floods and the threat of terrorist attacks.
Moreover, the department courted controversy under the administration of then-Gov. Susana Martinez, coming under scrutiny amid financial problems and allegations that some staff forged training certificates.
So White's first task may be providing some stability to an agency that has seen high turnover.
Born in Canada, White became an Olympic athlete for her home country. She competed in softball in the summer games in Sydney and in Athens, Greece, in 2000 and 2004 respectively.
White originally came to the state to play softball with the University of New Mexico team. She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2015.
Freshmen sing: With less than three weeks to go before the legislative session ends, you hear lots of comments around the Capitol that lawmakers are not moving quickly enough to get things done.
Nonetheless, the House of Representatives found time to offer up a couple of songs Sunday night, courtesy of two freshmen legislators, Reps. Susan Herrera, D-Embudo, and Micaela Cadena, D-Mesilla.
It's long been a tradition in the House that when a new member introduces his or her first bill, he or she must sing a favorite tune.
Herrera chose The Impossible Dream, interspersing commentary between bars to tie the song's theme of persevering under difficult odds to include references to lawyers and lobbyists getting in the way of legislation. Cadena, accompanied on guitar by House Sergeant At Arms Lenny Roybal, sang a Spanish-English version of One Day at A Time.
Both legislators saw their bills clear the House. Herrera's would allow New Mexico residents to enter state parks for free on Sundays starting in November. Cadena's would require the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance to set minimum standards for benefits available under short-term plans, meaning those of less than three months.
The House has 19 freshmen, which means there may be more singing yet to come.
Decals, please: Sen. Cliff Pirtle says New Mexico's raft of specialty license plates has made life more difficult for police officers. Instead of creating more plates of varying colors and themes, the Roswell Republican says he has a better idea.
His Senate Bill 269 creates a standardized license plate with space for a decal to highlight causes. Senators approved the measure Monday on a 40-0 vote.
Advocates can still promote their causes, but through a uniform system that makes a state license plate easier to identify, Pirtle said.
He said the existing clutter of more plates won't be missed if his bill is approved by the House of Representatives and signed by the governor.
"Basically the state got into the bumper-sticker business at the expense of the taxpayer," Pirtle said. "Taxpayers foot the bill if a lower-than-expected registration does not cover the initial cost of the [specialty] license plates."
Quotes of the day: "I'm sorry, sir, I don't work at the zoo." -- Ndaba Mandela, grandson of the late South Africa president Nelson Mandela, telling the House and Senate education committees how he responded when a staff member at Disney World asked how big the lions are in Africa.
"They kill because that's the way God made them." - Rep. Jim Townsend, R-Artesia, referring to predators during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on House Bill 366, which would ban trapping on public lands. The committee voted 7-5 to give a "do pass" to the bill, introduced by Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo. The bill next goes to the House Floor.