State House Highlights: March 10

STATE News:

House Highlights

On the Senate Floor

House Bill 273 (Public School Capital Outlay Lease Payments), sponsored by Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton (D-Bernalillo-19) and carried by Sen. John Sapien (D-Bernalillo, Sandoval-9) was passed in the Senate. HB 273 amends §22-24-4 to empower the Public School Capital Outlay Council to adjust grants for lease payments for classroom facilities concurrently with changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Charter schools are the primary recipients of the lease assistance program. Over 50% of program funds are used to pay to leases of privately owned facilities.

House Labor and Human Resources Committee Substitute for House Bill 216aa (Fair Pay For Women Act), sponsored by Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe-47) and carried by Sen. Linda Lopez (D-Bernalillo-11) passed the Senate by a vote of 31-2. HBCS 216aa enacts a new Fair Pay for Women Act (FPWA) where employers of more than 4 persons may not discriminate in wages paid on the basis of sex for equal work on jobs of equal skill, effort and responsibility performed under similar working conditions. The legislation allows the employer to assert an affirmative defense of good faith and reasonable grounds for believing actions did not violate FPWA, to avoid treble damages.

House Bill 542a (Community Schools Act), sponsored by House Majority Leader Rick Miera (D-Bernalillo-11) and carried by Sen. Cisco McSorley (D-Bernalillo-16), has passed the Senate by a vote of 34-0. HB 542 enacts the Community Schools Act (Act), a new section of the Public School Code. A community school is both a place and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources. A community school has an integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development and community engagement that lead to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities.

House Bill 593 (County Higher Ed Facility Property Tax), sponsored by Rep. Nick Salazar (D-Colfax, Mora, Rio Arriba, San Miguel-40) and carried by Sen. John Sapien (D-Bernalillo, Sandoval-9), has passed the Senate by a vote of 38-0. HB 593 adds a new section to the Property Tax Code to authorize a class B county with a population of no less than forty thousand and no more than forty-five thousand, according to the last census; to impose a property tax for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, renovating or improving a facility of a four-year post-secondary institution located in that county. The rate of the tax may not exceed one dollar fifty cents on each one thousand dollars of net taxable value of property, and may be imposed for no more than eight years. HB 593 now goes to the Governor.

House Bill 155 as amended (Replacement Fees for Car Disability Placards), sponsored by Rep. Miguel Garcia (D-Bernalillo-14) and carried by Sen. Tim Keller (D-Bernalillo-17), has passed the Senate by a vote of 33-2. HB 155aa adds new language to the Motor Vehicle Code to create a $5.00 fee for new, replacement or seized disability placards. $3.00 of the fee collected will be distributed to the Disability Fund and $2.00 will go to the Motor Vehicle Suspense Fund to cover the costs of administering the placard program.

In Committee

House Bill 606 (Two-Tiered Driver’s License), sponsored by Rep. Paul Pacheco (D-Bernalillo, Sandoval-23), was tabled again in the House Appropriation and Finance Committee (HAFC) this morning on a tie vote 9-9. HB 606 would have set up two different driver’s licenses – one to comply with the REAL ID Act and the other issued to Dreamers (children of undocumented workers who are eligible under DACA).

House 272a (Free Elk Licenses to Disabled Veterans), sponsored by Rep. Phillip Archuleta got a “Do Pass” from the Senate Conservation Committee. HB 272would require the Department of Game and Fish (DGF) reserve no more than ten elk licenses per year for veterans who are at least 50% service-connected disabled. Certification of the veteran’s application would be the responsibility of the Department of Veterans Services.

The House Health, Government and Indian Affairs Committee substitute for House Bill 637 (Hispanic Cultural Center Board Membership), sponsored by Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas (D-Bernalillo-16), has cleared the House Health, Government & Indian Affairs Committee. HBCS637 provides for the governing board of the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC) effective July 1, 2013 to have an operating agreement with a nonprofit organization. The nonprofit may nominate two of its board to the governor for appoint to one-year terms on the NHCC board. HBCS 637 now goes to the Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 72 as amended (Racehorse Testing Standards), sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen (D- Doña Ana-38) was passed in the House Health, Government & Indian Affairs Committee 6-0. SB72a creates the Racehorse Testing Fund (RTF) to be administered by the State Racing Commission (SRC). Money in the fund is appropriated to the SRC for the handling and testing of urine and other specimens taken from racehorses. It would ensure the SRC will have sufficient funds for the testing of racehorses at a laboratory that meets or exceeds the current national laboratory standards for the testing of drugs or other foreign substances. Such labs are located outside NM.

Senate Bill 416aaa (Raise Minimum Wage), sponsored by Sen. Richard Martinez (D-Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, Santa Fe-5) was amended in the House Labor and Human Resources Committee and passed by a vote of 5-3. SB416aaa increases the state minimum wage of $7.50 an hour to $8.50 an hour effective January 1, 2014. The amendment made in committee clarifies the exemptions from paying the minimum wage (employers with three employees or less) and more clearly links the legislation with the Minimum Wage Act and Workmen’s Compensation Act exemptions.

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