Legislative Roundup: 30 Days Remaining In Session

The Santa Fe New Mexican:

Removal effort fizzles: An effort to remove an outspoken state senator from the powerful Senate Finance Committee fizzled — at least for now.

The Senate Committees’ Committee voted to replace Sen. Jacob Candelaria, I-Albuquerque, with Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque.

But Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, pulled the committee report from adoption during the floor session amid objections from Candelaria and some Republicans.

“Our Senate rules make clear that seniority of the members of the Senate shall prevail at all times in committee assignment,” said Candelaria, who has served in the Legislature for 10 years.

Candelaria, who recently changed his party affiliation from Democrat to independent after butting heads with party leaders, including Stewart, noted the Senate may only depart from the rule by a three-fourths majority vote.

“We can equivocate and come up with whatever excuse to justify the raw exercise of retaliatory power here today, but the rule is the rule,” he said.

Candelaria, an attorney, said he intends to sue Stewart in the coming weeks for alleged violations of the New Mexico Human Rights Act.

Green Amendment sparks debate: The introduction of legislation on the Senate floor sparked a more than 30-minute debate over whether or not to refer to the Senate Finance Committee a proposal to make a clean and healthy environment a constitutional right in New Mexico.

The committee chairman, Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, advocated his committee hear the proposed constitutional amendment to determine the fiscal impact, which some Democrats said indicated he intended to kill it.

“My concern is that if it makes it to the Senate Finance Committee, that it not simply go into a roach motel but that it has a fair shot at having a hearing and can be heard on its merits,” said Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque. Despite arguments against sending the proposal to the committee, the Senate voted 24-16 to do so.

Feed the kitty: The House of Representatives tackled just one order of business following Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s State of the State address: It unanimously approved House Bill 1, the annual “feed bill” necessary to fund the operations of the 30-day legislative session. The $5.96 million legislation is scheduled to go to the Senate Finance Committee for debate and a vote Wednesday.

Hoots Mon! House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, had a touch of Scotch in front of everyone on the opening day of the session. That is, he wore a tartan in honor of his family roots, which were planted in Scotland eons ago. “This is the dress of our family clan in Scotland,” Egolf said, adding he is a descendant of the Urquhart clan, located near the Loch Ness. He said the clan resisted English colonization of the area.

New man on the job: Egolf swore in new House member Brian Baca, R-Los Lunas, on Tuesday.

The Valencia County Commission voted to appoint Baca to replace former state Rep. Alfonso Baldonado, who retired in the middle of a two-year term from his District 8 post late last year.

Baca is a longtime educator who currently serves as deputy superintendent of the Los Lunas school district. Egolf appointed Baca to the House Education Committee.

Quote of the day: “This might be the first time in the history of our state that there have been three elected Brians in this chamber. And for those playing at home, we all spell our name the correct way — with an I. Now I’m going to get hate mail from the ‘Bryans with a Y’ caucus.” — Egolf, referring to himself, Brian Baca and state Auditor Brian Colón, who were all present for today’s opening day ceremonies in the House.


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