The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Local lawmakers take stock of session

 

March 17, 2019



SANTA FE — If we didn’t know 60 days ago, we know now: New Mexico is under Democrat control.

“I feel like the state of New Mexico turned left,” Rep. Randy Crowder, R-Clovis, said as the state Legislature wrapped up its annual session on Saturday.

“At 3 o’clock (Friday) morning the House floor approved $210 million worth of tax credits for Hollywood and most of what we’re doing is simply not sustainable.”

“It’s all tied to revenue from the oil and gas industry and that is a very cyclical industry. It is a boom-bust industry, and if you look back in the history of New Mexico, we just passed the largest budget in New Mexico history and there’s no way we can continue funding the reoccurring commitment,” Crowder said.

As the session wrapped up, area legislators, all Republicans, celebrated the defeat of an abortion bill late in the session but most of their focus was on the $7 billion state budget, believed to be the largest in the state’s history.

“You know I don’t want to sound all negative but New Mexico spending all this money that they had and then raising taxes somewhere close to $500 million is excess spending,” said Rep. Martin Zamora, R-Clovis.

“And luckily the abortion bill got killed in the Senate (Thursday) and we all celebrated that. But you know as a freshman, you’re up here learning a lot but you also realize what people are telling you ... everyone telling you this was one of the hardest sessions, or I almost want to say worst sessions, that New Mexico has ever had. And I believe it’s true.”

One of the Democrats’ goals for the session, raising the minimum wage, was approved by the House and Senate after a compromise removed a provision tying future increases to inflation.

Minimum wage will increase progressively starting at $9 in 2020 before moving to $10.50 in 2021, $11.50 in 2022 and $12 starting in 2023.

Tipped employees will see their minimum wage move to $2.25, then $2.55, $2.80 and $3 over the same time period.

“We’ll have to wait and see what the ramifications are from that,” Zamora said. “I believe it will cause inflation and I believe it will cost the people of the state of New Mexico higher prices whether they go to the grocery store or whether they go out to eat to a restaurant, I think we’ll see those inflation prices and the cost of living go up.”

The numerous gun-related bills have drawn the ire of citizens in this part of the state, the latest being Senate Bill 328, which expands the restrictions for owning a gun to include those convicted of domestic violence. It passed early Friday morning by the House.

“My problem with that was this: Is there adequate due process? Can you just be accused of a crime and have your guns taken away?” said Sen. Pat Woods, R-Broadview. “They say, ‘Oh, well, there’s a hearing officer.’ Well is that a judge? Do you have a judge and a jury? Well there’s no jury, there’s not really a judge, there’s a hearing officer and the hearing officer can make the decision to take your guns away from you if you have been accused, if they think there’s adequate evidence.”

“Well-intended bill, but it will take guns away from people without due process,” Crowder said. “Very, very far-reaching bill.”

Woods said he also disagreed with the Legislature’s passage of a bill that prevents counties from enforcing the right-to-work laws adopted locally.

“We feel that it’s very hypocritical that the city of Albuquerque has decided ‘We’re a sanctuary city, we’re not going to go by federal laws on immigration,’ but up in Santa Fe we’re going to say, ‘Well Roosevelt County, you’re not allowed to have a right-to-work county.’ And how hypocritical is it to say you have to be subordinate under us, but we’re not going to be subordinate under the federal law,” Woods said.

“And it’s the same people using the argument the other way when it’s to their advantage and they have the majority.”

Asked about the biggest win for the people of eastern New Mexico to come out of the session, Crowder, Woods and Zamora all pointed to the millions of capital outlay and “junior” bill dollars that will come back to the communities for roads and other projects.

Essentially they don’t agree with the spending, but they do believe people will see benefits in the short term.

“It sounds hypocritical, but the monies going out are going to be good for the people,” Zamora said.

“It’s going to cost us in taxes and we have to have the revenue to keep up the monies going out. And if we keep spending it, I think we’ll find ourselves in big trouble.”

 
 

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