By JENS GOULD
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced today the agenda for the Legislature’s special session, calling for lawmakers to tackle a wide array of initiatives, from economic relief to voting and police reform.
The agenda goes far beyond the main reason for calling the emergency session, which is to fix an estimated $2 billion hole in New Mexico’s budget caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The governor is asking lawmakers to take up proposals, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Cervantes and Rep. Micaela Cadena, that would require police officers to wear body cameras and that would ban chokeholds, the Governor’s Office said in a statement.
Also on the agenda is an effort to create a state commission that would examine the issue of qualified immunity.
Additionally, Lujan Grisham wants to streamline the election process during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawmakers will debate a proposal, sponsored by Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto and Rep. Linda Trujillo, that would allow county clerks to send mail-in ballots to registered voters without requiring voters to request absentee ballots.
On the economic front, the session will include bills that would provide tax relief for small businesses and individuals as well as low-interest loans to small businesses and municipalities.
“New Mexico families, workers and businesses have been suffering as a result of this pandemic, and it is our duty not merely to shore up the state budget — although that is imperative — but to deliver them whatever immediate relief we can as a state,” Lujan Grisham said Wednesday.
The measure to provide loans for small businesses and municipalities would be financed by tapping the state’s Severance Tax Permanent Fund. That bill is sponsored by Sen. John Sapien, Sen. Jacob Candelaria, Rep. Marian Matthews and Rep. Daymon Ely.
The tax relief bill, sponsored by Sen. Peter Wirth and Rep. Christine Chandler, would waive penalties and interest for people and businesses who are behind on their property tax and gross receipts tax payments.
Lujan Grisham also is asking lawmakers to give her greater authority during the pandemic to allow for services such as liquor delivery and electronic notary services, the statement said.
“I look forward to and anticipate bipartisan cooperation and expeditious work with the Legislature this week, as well as the professionalism and diligence New Mexicans have come to expect from this group of legislators,” the governor said.