From the Roundhouse: Sweat the Small Stuff

February 14th, 2013 at 7:52 pm by under Latest Posts, Politics

A warning to readers… The contents of this blog are truly inside baseball. But if you can get through the process stuff, you’ll see how a small move can indicate a larger theme.

That small move occurred midday Thursday during a pretty routine process in the Senate.

When bills are introduced or passed by the other chamber, they’re assigned to committees. By Senate rules, a bill only has to go through two committees although Finance doesn’t count for one of those.

Having passed the House 41-25, Santa Fe Democratic Rep. Brian Egolf’s House Bill 88 was set to get its committee assignments Thursday.

The bill, known as the Foreclosure Fairness Act, would force a court to give homeowners wrongly foreclosed on attorney fees and costs if they win their case.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, elected to assign the bill to two committees, Corporations and Judiciary.

But with Sanchez off the floor, Senate Finance Chair John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, argued that the bill could have a huge impact on counties and municipalities and demanded Finance be added to the list.

He needed a majority of senators to back him to get that done.

Immediately, Republicans rose in support of Smith, considered a conservative Democrat.

Senate Majority Whip Tim Keller, D-Albuquerque, rose in opposition.

So did Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, who flat-out accused Smith and the Republicans of trying to kill the bill and keep it off the floor by sending it through a maze of committee hearings.

This was a battle of simple legislative math. If Smith had enough conservative Democrats plus Republicans along with him for a majority, he could force the issue and get his way.

If he didn’t, it was no problem for Keller and the rest of the Democratic senators to kill the small insurrection in the ranks.

It didn’t come to a vote.

Keller picked up a microphone and laid down, withdrawing his opposition and calling for unanimous consent for Finance to be added to the list of stops for HB 88.

A visibly frustrated McSorley opposed that. But a quick voice vote crushed the Democrats, and the committee was added.

This was not a huge vote by any means, and HB 88 isn’t necessarily dead now.

However, it reinforced the idea that in many cases Republicans along with conservative Democrats have the votes in the Senate to do what they want, even over Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez’s wishes.

Why is this important?

That power to override the Democratic caucus’ preferences was what allowed Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, to get enough votes to win the position of Senate President Pro Tem over Dem caucus choice Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas.

This reality could also come into play with the driver’s license debate. Republicans only need four Democrats to go along with them on a compromise bill that would take away driver’s licenses from most illegal immigrants. Two (you guessed it, Smith and Papen) are already co-sponsors.

It’s a small vote that could signal bigger things as we enter the second half of the session.

Bill of the Day:  House Bill 504

Like alcohol tastings? You’ll like HB 504.

Deming Democrat Rep. Dona Irwin’s bill would allow those with liquor licenses to get alcohol tasting permits for $100.

HB 504 is in the House Business and Industry Committee.

3 Responses to “From the Roundhouse: Sweat the Small Stuff”

  1. Connie says:


  2. [...] Goldsmith highlights another example of the coalition of Republicans and conservative Democrats banding together to likely kill a progressive bill in the state [...]

  3. whiskeyriver says:

    People wonder why small businesses are so hard to get started in this state? Rep. Irwin’s bill is a good example. A bar or restaurant which already has a liquor license, that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, already has to pay as much as $2500 per year to renew a privately owned license each year. Then add $250 per year for a Sunday sales permit. Now a legislator wants to add another tax of $100 per year so patrons can “taste” something? A bar or restaurant is going to have to pay a tax to the state so they can let me sample a wine or beer to see if I like it or not? Only a dim bulb, with no idea of the economic problems we are facing in our state, would come up with such an asinine idea.

    Rep Irwin, like all our elected elite, need to be focused on bringing jobs into the state instead of punishing the job producers we already have.

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