Legislative Update: Bills you need to know about for Feb. 18-19

This is a busy time at the New Mexico Legislature, and here are short rundowns of some bills being considered today, tomorrow, and over the weekend. Those marked with “BAD” are what Piñon Post sees as bills detrimental to the state.

TODAY (NM SENATE): 

Senate Conservation Committee – 8:30 a.m. 2/18/2021 – Watch live here.

S.B. 296 sponsored by Sen. Brenda McKenna (D-Bernalillo & Sandoval) and Jeff Steinborn (D-Doña Ana) – BAD 

This is an anti-energy bill that would increase penalties for environmental violations from $10,000 to $20,000 in some cases and from $15,000 to $30,000 in others, which is excessively punitive to businesses. 

According to the fiscal impact report on the bill, it “increases the maximum civil penalty under the New Mexico Mining Act, implemented by the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD), from $10 thousand to $20 thousand per day for each violation, including violations of a rule of the Mining.” 

The bill also “increases the Environment Department’s (NMED) penalty authority for violations of the Air Quality Control Act, the federal Clean Air Act, air quality permits, emission limits, and regulations from $15 thousand per day per violation to $30 thousand per day per violation.” 

TOMORROW (still time to RSVP to testify) 

HEALTH AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE – Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino, Chair, convenes at 1:30 p.m.* 

*Times are subject to change depending on the Senate floor schedule. 

For spoken public comment register at https://ggle.io/3pe5. If there is a high volume of requests for public comment, not everyone may be able to speak. For written comment send an email to SPAC@nmlegis.gov with your Name, Entity Represented, Bill #, and For or Against. Written comments are limited to 300 words or less. The deadline to respond is Thursday, February 18 at 5:00 p.m. You will be contacted by our Zoom Operator with the virtual meeting instructions. If you do not receive a response, check your junk email.

S.B. 224 – CRIME OF FAILURE TO SECURE FIREARM by Sen. Antoinette Sedillo-Lopez (D-Bernalillo) – BAD

As reported on earlier, this bill will criminalize parents who teach their children how to shoot and mandate specific gun safes and locks for firearms. This is the bill’s first committee appearance.

This bill is staunchly anti-Second Amendment and counter-productive, as it would leave children without proper firearms training to use guns properly. 

S.B. 232  – EXEMPTION FROM IMMUNIZATION by Sen. Gregg Schmedes (R-Bernalillo, Sandoval, Santa Fe, and Torrance) – GOOD

According to the fiscal impact report, “Senate Bill 232 would amend Section 24-5-3 NMSA 1978 to add a fourth reason why a child should be granted an exemption from state-required immunizations for school or dare. The fourth type of exemption, “for reasons of conscience,” would be added to the three existing reasons: medical exemptions; group religious objections to vaccine(s) and individual religious objections to vaccine(s).” This bill is friendly to New Mexicans who have conscience objections to vaccinations. 

S.B. 238 – ELIMINATE SEC. OF HEALTH POWERS by Sen. Gregg Schmedes (R-Bernalillo, Sandoval, Santa Fe, and Torrance) – GOOD

According to the fiscal impact report, “Senate Bill 238 eliminates the authority of the secretary of the Department of Health under the Public Health Emergency Response Act (PHERA) to isolate or quarantine a person who is unwilling or unable to undergo vaccination for reasons of health, religion or conscience. This bill contains an emergency clause and would become effective immediately upon signature by the governor.” This bill is friendly to those who have objections to being forcibly vaccinated by the Department of Health. 

SB 230 – INSTITUTIONAL RACISM IN STATE AGENCIES by Sen. Linda Lopez (D-Bernalillo) – BAD

“SB230 directs each state agency or entity that receives state funding to annually develop and submit a plan to address institutional racism as part of its annual final budget submission. SB230 would require copies of the annual plans to be provided to the Legislature, the Legislative Finance Committee, and the Courts, Corrections, & Justice Committee,” according to the Fiscal Impact Report. 

This bill would foster racism within state agencies based upon arbitrary attributes that employees cannot control. This would further bureaucratize New Mexico state agencies and waste hard-earned taxpayer money on programs that do not directly benefit the state in any way, shape, or form. 

S.B. 274 – USE OF DEADLY FORCE REPORTING by Sen. Antoinette Sedillo-Lopez (D-Bernalillo) and Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero (D-Bernalillo) – BAD

Note: both of these women are running for Congress in CD-1.

According to the bill, “Within twenty-four hours of a person suffering great bodily harm or death as a result of a peace officer’s actions, the sheriff or the chief of police of the jurisdiction in which the great bodily harm or death occurred shall report the great bodily harm or death in writing to the district attorney of the judicial district in which the great bodily harm or death occurred. The sheriff or chief of police shall report all instances of suspected great bodily harm to the appropriate district attorney, even if a more thorough assessment of great bodily harm will be undertaken at a later date,” 

The bill would put undue suspicion of wrongdoing on the part of the law enforcement officer, overburdening local sheriffs and district attorneys, while not trusting police officers to carry forth their duties. 

NOTE: This same bill, but in the House form as H.B. 254 will be heard in the HOUSE CONSUMER AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE on Thursday, February 18, 2021 – 10 Minutes After the Floor Session – Zoom:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89243737297

S.B. 227 –  INSPECTION OF POLICE MISCONDUCT INVESTIGATIONSen. Linda Lopez (D-Bernalillo) – BAD

This bill is opposed by the Bernalillo County Deputy Sheriffs Association. It adds crippling restrictions on law enforcement and adds strict reporting criteria which does nothing by penalize law enforcers for simply carrying out their duties. Included in the bill are restrictions, such as the following:

“A law enforcement officer shall not use a chokehold. J. A law enforcement officer shall not discharge tear gas or other chemical weapons. K. A law enforcement officer shall not discharge rubber pellets from a propulsion device. L. A law enforcement officer shall not direct a dog to bite a person.” This is an anti-law enforcement bill, which takes critical tools away from officers. 

This is still being updated.

TAX, BUSINESS AND TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE Thursday, February 18, 2021 – 1:30 p.m. – Virtual Zoom Meeting

For public participation send an email to SCORC@nmlegis.gov with your Name, Entity Represented, Bill #, For or Against and indicate if you wish to speak. The deadline to respond is Thursday, February 18 at 10:00 a.m. You will be contacted by our Zoom Operator with the virtual meeting instructions.

SB 168 – INCREASE GAS TAX by Sen. “Bobby” J. Gonzales (D-Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Santa Fe and Taos) – BAD 

Senate Bill 168 increases the gasoline excise tax and the special fuel excise tax by five cents per gallon (from 17 cents to 22 cents and from 21 cents to 26 cents, respectively) over a five-year period, with a one-cent increase each fiscal year beginning in FY22.

In an economic crisis, the state already faces, this bill will raise taxes on gas, hurting the state and hurting people in New Mexico already suffering enough through burdensome taxation. 

HOUSE LABOR, VETERANS’ AND MILITARY AFFAIRS COMMITTEE – ELISEO LEE ALCON, CHAIR Thursday, February 18, 2021 – 2:00 p.m. – Zoom
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84249828480 

H.B. 268 – CORONAVIRUS & WORKERS’ COMP by Reps. Dayan Hochman-Vigil (D-Bernalillo) and Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, and Santa Fe). 

According to the New Mexico Business Coalition, “the employee would not be required to prove that they were actually exposed to Covid-19 at work.” 

The business would be forced to go to court to dispute the claim that the essential employee contracted COVID-19 during work. The bill reads, “The presumptions created in Subsection B of this section may be rebutted by a preponderance of evidence in a court of competent jurisdiction establishing that the employee engaged in conduct or activities outside of employment that substantially violated the then existent public health orders related to the coronavirus disease 2019.” 

The New Mexico Business Coalition urges members of the public to reach out to legislators on the committee and urge them to vote “NO” on the measure “because it is unfair and injurious to businesses that have been working to keep the economy going during forced shutdowns.”

Monday, February 22, 2021

HOUSE COMMERCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE

ANTONIO “MOE” MAESTAS, CHAIR – 1:30 p.m. – Zoom

H.B. 110 – PHASED MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE by Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero (D-Bernalillo) – She is running for Congress in CD-1.  – BAD

“Starting January 1, 2022, the minimum wage would rise to $12.00 per hour Starting January 1, 2024, the minimum wage would rise to $15.00 per hour,” according to the fiscal impact report.

This bill hurts small businesses and causes fewer people employed because of the mandates from this anti-business, anti-worker bill. 
You are invited to a Zoom webinar. Feb 22, 2021 01:30 PM When: Feb 22, 2021 01:30 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada) Topic: HOUSE COMMERCE & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE Please click the link below to join the webinar: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83846715600

HOUSE ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE

MATTHEW MCQUEEN,
CHAIR
Thursday, February 18, 2021 – 8:30 a.m. – Zoom

H.J.M. 3 – WAIVE OIL & GAS PERMIT BAN ON FED LANDS by Rep. James G. Townsend (R-Artesia) and Rep. Rod Montoya (R-Farmington) – GOOD

This bill requests Joe Biden waive the suspension of new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits for federal lands in New Mexico.

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