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

Legislative recap goes behind the scenes

 

April 14, 2019

Jamie Cushman

Rep. Randy Crowder, R-Clovis, holds up the agenda from the final day of the legislative session during "Chowder with Crowder" on Wednesday.

CLOVIS - Wednesday's legislative recap at the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce featured discussion about how not to get a bill passed.

Rep. Randy Crowder, R-Clovis, the namesake for the event "Chowder with Crowder," discussed some of the behind-the-scenes methods employed by Republicans to slow the passage of legislation during a session that featured the House, Senate and governor's office all dominated by Democrats.

"It's the best thing in the world for you because the less we get done, the safer you are," Crowder said. When you are in the minority, he said, "the clock is your only friend."

Crowder said Republicans would hang out in the hallway outside a committee meeting until there were enough Democrats to make a quorum, with a popular mantra by the end of the session being, "don't make a quorum for 'em."

"You can gobble up a half hour, an hour, hour and a half while they're trying to get a quorum and you're trying to watch them not get a quorum," Crowder said.

He said legislators frequently used all three hours allowed to debate a bill on the House floor, including one night when the House met from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m. with just two bills discussed.

"Also when you get into committee, you debate the dickens out of every bill," Crowder said. "You just talk about it, you want to know every detail of it. You want to know how it's going to impact, why are we doing this, what's wrong, what are we trying to fix, why are you bringing this bill forward, and you just talk and you talk and you talk until your throat's dry."

Crowder said the tactics are not new or original to Republicans, "but it's just you have to have a stomach to do it and it gets hard to do it sometimes."

"I'm going to be real honest with you guys, Republicans learned this three years ago when they for one time in 65 years had the House and they watched what the Democrat party did and we learned from them. They're really good. They're pros," Crowder said.

Crowder also relayed some statistics from the session. He said according to legislative council services, 1,661 pieces of legislation were filed during the session, with a total of 310 sent to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, of which she vetoed or pocket vetoed 28.

Rep. Martin Zamora, R-Clovis, the other local legislator present Wednesday, said he was happy with the passage of Senate Bill 177, which allows bingo licensees to operate pull-tab gambling.

Zamora told The News after the event the bill would benefit local veterans organizations, as well as a local bingo hall.

Zamora and Crowder also took questions from the local city, county and business officials who packed the Chamber of Commerce's conference room.

Local business owner John Snowberger asked about rumors that the Catholic Church was responsible for stopping the passage of House Bill 51. That bill sought to repeal a law, mostly unenforceable due to Supreme Court decisions, that criminalizes abortion and includes a "conscience clause" for health officials who do not wish to perform an abortion.

"I think the church stepped up. I think the church made a lot of noise. I think that was good. I think the governor has her agenda, I don't think it's all good for the state of New Mexico ..." Zamora said.

"It's not what I want and under my vote it won't happen. I will stand up for the sanctity of life from conception to death and if I lose my election, if I lose representing this district because I stand up for that, so be it."

Crowder said HB 51 was one of the two hottest topics of the session, along with Senate Bill 8.

SB8 institutes required background checks for nearly all firearms transactions in the state, something Crowder said would likely cause the Clovis Evening Lions Club gun show to move to Texas.

Local business owner James Burns asked what would need to be done in the next session ensure the passage of House Bill 530, which would grant professional and occupational licenses for military service members, as well as their spouses and children, who moved to New Mexico within a year and hold a license in another state.

"Strategically as far as your bill I think we need to start it in the House and the Senate," Crowder said. "A 30-day session is budgetary only unless you have a message from the governor. I would run it on both sides at the same time and hopefully they cross."

Crowder said he would initially work with the bill's original sponsors out of respect, but if they are not interested in carrying it again then he will do so.

 
 

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