State House Highlights: Feb. 23-27

STATE News:

On the Floor

  • House Judiciary Committee Substitute for House Bills 349, 479 and 31 (Comprehensive DWI Prevention Package), a bipartisan effort on behalf of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Elizabeth “Liz” Thomson (D-Bernalillo-24), Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-Los Alamos, Sandoval, Rio Arriba & Santa Fe-43) and Rep. Tim Lewis (R-Sandoval-60), has passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 63-0. The House Judiciary Committee substitute for HBs 349,479 and 31 aims to help end New Mexico’s reputation as the worst drunk-driving state in the nation. HB 31 sponsored by Rep. Tim Lewis increases the penalty for habitual drunk drivers. HB 349, sponsored by Rep. Thomson tightens ignition. House Bill 257, interlock requirements. And HB 479 sponsored by Rep. Garcia Richard allows judges to order DWI offenders to house arrest and undergo home breathalyzers test twice a day.
  • House Bill 64(Educational Retirement Changes), sponsored by Rep. Mimi Stewart (D-Bernalillo-21) passed the house with a 50-17 vote. HB 64 would increase the contribution rate for some members to the Educational Retirement Fund, impose a minimum retirement age (55) and delay the cost-of-living adjustment eligibility and increase the age (67) and service requirements.
  • House Education Committee Substitute for House Bill 67 (Academic Content & Performance Standards), sponsored by Rep. Bill McCamley (D-Doña Ana-33) passed the house with a vote of 35-33. HB 67 requires the Public Education Department adopt and implement the next generation of science standards. It also requires the Mathematics and Science Advisory Council to make recommendation to the Public Education Department for implementation of these new standards and requires reporting.

House Appropriation and Finance Committee Substitutes for House Bill 95 and 169 (Judicial Retirement Changes),sponsored by Rep. Jim Trujillo (D-Santa Fe-45) (HB 95) and Rep. Mimi Stewart (D-Bernalillo-21) (HB 169), passed the House with a vote of 46-20. Similar to HB 64, House Bills 95 and 169 are focused at increasing the solvency of key pension programs. HB 95 amends the Magistrate Retirement Act to change the retirement age and services required for normal retirement. The Committee Substitute also decreases the pension multiplier for service credits earned after June 30th 2013. The bills also decrease and delay the cost-of-living adjustment and increase the maximum pension benefits. These actions will increase the solvency of these pension funds.

  • House Bill 424 (Early College High Schools), sponsored by Rep. Mary Helen Garcia (D-Doña Ana-34) passed the House with a 65-0 vote. House Bill 424 (HB 424) enacts a new section of the Public School Code to provide for school districts to form Early College High Schools (ECHS), and exempts ECHS from certain capital outlay funds or size adjustments in the public school funding formula.
  • House Bill 330 (Renewable Energy Equipment Valuation), sponsored by Rep. Mary Helen Garcia (D-Doña Ana-34) passed the House with a 66-0 vote. HB 330 allows solar and wind equipments to be valued on a depreciating scale over a 20-year period to lower the tax rates.
  • House Bill 346 (Raise Sexual Exploitation Age to 18),sponsored by Rep. Debbie Rodella (D-Rio Arriba, Taos-19) passed the House with a 67-0 vote. HB 346 amends the crimes of the “Sexual Exploitation of Children Act” and the “Enticement of a Child Act” to raise the age of thevictim from sixteen to eighteen years old. The criminal sanctions remain the same under the bill, as only the age of the victim is increased by two years.
  • House Bill 374 (Safe Haven For Infants Site Definitions), sponsored by Rep. Emily Kane (D-Bernalillo-15) passed the House with a vote of 64-0. HB 374 expands the “Safe Haven for Infants Act” to include fire stations and law enforcement agencies as appropriate “Safe Havens,” where infants can be dropped off without fear of legal recourse.
  • House Bill 417 (Cultural Affairs Dept Enterprise Fund), sponsored by Rep. Lucky Varela (D-Santa Fe-48) passed the House with a 67-0 vote.(HB 417) creates the “Cultural Affairs Department Enterprise Fund” (“The Fund”) as a non-reverting account that will hold the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) revenues, donations, bequests, and any non-general fund appropriations made to the fund. The Fund is modeled largely after the Tourism Enterprise Fund.
  • House Bill 556 (Coercion for Prostitution Under 18), sponsored by Rep. Gail Chasey (D-Bernalillo-18) passed the House with a vote of 65-0. House Bill 556 requires that a person arrested for prostitution under the age of 18 must have a victim advocate or attorney present before questioning. Law enforcement shall make a reasonable effort to have a parent or adult member of the child’s family present before questioning begins. If the arrested person needs a translator, questioning shall not start until the translator is present. Anyone arrested for prostitution pursuant to Section 30-9-2 shall be informed of the right to consult with a victim advocate and to be informed of “social services.

In Committee

  • House Bill 460 Committee Substitute (School Management Contracts & Charter Boards) sponsored by Rep. Mimi Stewart was passed in the House Education Committee (HEC) this morning by a partisan vote of 7-5. HB 460CS prohibits the use of state funds appropriated for public education, to pay for out-of-state, for-profit private online charter schools. HB 460 CS clarifies and enforces the existing language regarding charter schools in the Public School Code. HB 460 CS now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.
  • House Bill 514 (School Nurse in Elementary Schools), sponsored by Rep. Elizabeth “Liz” Thomson cleared the House Education Committee by a vote of 6-4 along party lines. HB 514 will require a licensed registered school nurse in each public elementary school with three hundred (300) or more students. HB 514 provides for the requirement to be phased in over a four-year period and appropriates $5 million in funding to the Public Education Department for the first year FY 2014. HB 514 will now be considered in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.
  • House Bill 551 (Food Residual Recycling & Agency Report Cards), sponsored by Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas (D-Bernalillo-16) got a “Do Pass” in the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 6-5. HB 551 urges state agencies to recycle more waste and to seek markets for recycled products. It also requires state agencies to provide yearly reports to the legislature on their recycling cost savings for paper, cardboard, motor oil and even food residual. It now goes to the House Health, Government & Indian Affairs Committee.
  • House Bill 668 sponsored by Rep. Miguel Garcia (D-Bernalillo-14) passed the House Labor and Human Resources Committee by a vote of 3-2. HB 668 raises the minimum wage by tying it to inflation and puts it into state statute.
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