The sun rose on Wednesday, the last full day of New Mexico’s 30-day legislative session for 2022lawmakers narrowly cutting it to agree on a budget for fiscal year 2023 and the fate of numerous bills, including an omnibus voting rights and election security package, on hot coals.
The nearly $8.5 billion proposed budget is headed to a conference committee after the state House of Representatives on Tuesday rejected an amended Senate bill. If the chambers do not agree on a budget before the close of business, the governor could call a special session to put together next year’s budget.
Lawmakers worked until late Tuesday night to finish work and pass an omnibus crime bill, a proposed interest rate cap on payday loans and an election. and the voting program, among others.
SB 144, originally a proposal making threatening or intimidating election workers a crime, was converted into an omnibus package on Tuesday when parts of two other bills, one dealing with election changes and the other of the right to vote, were added in a 165-page amendment.
The 2022 regular session of the part-time unpaid New Mexico Legislature ends Thursday at noon.
The Clean Fuel Standard Debate Continues
State Rep. Daymon Ely, D-Corrales, proposed an amendment to the Clean Fuel Standards Bill, SC 14, which would allow the San Juan plant to operate for a year beyond its abandonment date in June. The amendment passed unopposed by the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee.
Prior to Ely’s amendment, it had passed the Senate by a vote of 25 to 16.
A previous measure to extend the service of the coal-fired power station by two years was rejected by the House Monday.
Senate Bill 14 would provide tax incentives to fuel producers to encourage the production of low-carbon fuel, and is sponsored by Senate Democrat Pro Tempore Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque. At Wednesday’s hearing, she rejected claims by Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, that this would lead to significant increases in fuel prices, saying there is a global market for the production of cleaner fuels.
State Rep. Nathan Small, D-Las Cruces, carrying the bill for the House, answered questions as the noon hour approached, opening the final 24 hours of the session. He was eliminated from the committee by a vote of 5 to 3.
It took less than 10 minutes for a conference committee chaired by state Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, to emerge with a reconciled proposal that could be presented to lawmakers on Wednesday.
The six-person committee included three members from each chamber. From the house were Lundstrom and Reps Gail Armstrong, D-Magdalena and Nathan Small, D-Las Cruces. From the Senate: George Muñoz, D-Gallup, Siah Correa Hemphill, D-Silver City and Crystal Diamond, R-Elephant Butte.
The committee quickly approved five changes to the budget bill, including dispersing $125 million that had been earmarked for a hydrogen energy center, $50 million earmarked for a public-private partnership program and $75 million dollars allocated to the state cash reserve.
Two changes were rejected after Senate members of the conference committee opposed them. One would have allocated $30 million for improving the rural health care delivery system and allocating grants to hospitals providing services to the indigent, and the other was an additional $5 million earmarked. to soil and water conservation districts.
Interest rates on installment loans
A bill limiting interest rates on installment loans to 36% is on its way to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham after the House approved an amended Senate version HB 132.
After the endorsement was passed in the House, supporters began cheering and cheering, but were quickly silenced by House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe.
While the bill caps interest rates on payday loans, it also increases the maximum payday loan amount to $10,000 from $5,000 for up to two years. It also limits the accrual of interest and prohibits wage garnishment for reimbursement.
Supporters celebrated the bill’s provisions targeting predatory lending and collection practices by the industry, while critics had warned it would raise credit barriers for people who may not be eligible for government loans. banks or credit unions.
This story will be updated multiple times throughout the day as we watch the session.