Debating Instead of LegislatingFebruary 4th, 2013 at 5:35 pm by Alex Goldsmith under N.M. Politics
If I told you that the House spent more than two hours debating a piece of legislation Monday, you might think what they were doing was pretty important.
You’d be wrong.
That’s because bills aren’t the only thing the legislature works on in Santa Fe.
Lawmakers also haggle over resolutions and memorials.
Resolutions are used by lawmakers to propose constitutional amendments, a long way of getting around the Governor or a way of getting voters to decide an issue.
Both bills and resolutions have the possibility of changing the law, spending money or generally making a difference in New Mexico.
A memorial, on the other hand, does not. Memorials are proclamations, messages and requests that have no legal force or effect.
Examples from this year include a memorial declaring it “City of Santa Fe” Day in the legislature, another honoring Amtrak and a third requesting a meeting to maximize the water in the Rio Grande.
Although memorials are often non-controversial, HJM 16, Study Feasibility of Horse Slaughter, was very controversial on the House floor today.
Rep. Paul Bandy, R-Aztec, wanted the House to pass a memorial that would’ve asked the state Department of Agriculture to “undertake a study of the feasibility of humane horse slaughter and processing facilities being established in New Mexico.”
While this is clearly a controversial issue, nothing in the legislation would’ve or even could’ve forced such a study to be conducted.
And yet despite the fact that the memorial, for all practical purposes, did nothing, the House spent (or wasted depending on your opinion) more than two hours debating and amending the memorial before ultimately voting it down 36-28.
There are many good uses of the legislature’s time during the limited number of hours a 60-day session provides and memorials to honor worthy causes could even be considered one of them.
But Monday’s hours spent on HJM 16, instead of a simple up-or-down vote, isn’t a good use of time and when there isn’t enough time to get everything important or meaningful done this session, this may be one of the reasons.
Bill of the Day
Rep. Bob Wooley, R-Roswell, says it may be time for your sheriff to get a raise…. or at least have the possibility of getting a raise.
County official salaries are capped in New Mexico depending on the value of the property in that specific county. For example in Bernalillo County, the county assessor can make no more than $65,501. In smaller counties, the cap is smaller.
Wooley’s bill simplifies the system by cutting down the number of county classifications there are on the books and it also raises the cap for all positions across all county classes.
That means that same assessor I mentioned before could get a maximum pay of $75,327.
HB 334 is in the House Health, Government & Indian Affairs Committee.