From the Roundhouse: Counter Intuitive

February 28th, 2013 at 7:22 pm by under Latest Posts, Politics

The legislative session brings many little wrinkles with it. Party lines force some individual lawmakers to vote against their conscience to toe the line.

But sometimes a “no” vote is the only way to save a bill you may support.

That unusual situation happened on the House floor today.

Rep. Mimi Stewart’s, D-Albuquerque, state health insurance exchange bill to satisfy the requirements of the Affordable Care Act was finally brought forward for a vote after stalling for a week.

A lengthy debate over the bill’s merits took up a big chunk of the House’s day. Rep. Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, made the point that pushing the bill forward as is was pointless and counterproductive because the governor would veto it in its current form.

It became clear when it was time for the vote that Stewart’s bill didn’t have enough support to pass with all of the Republicans against her and enough conservative Democrats opposed as well.

So, according to a Democratic source, Rep. Lucky Varela, D-Santa Fe, (who’s been in the House longer than I’ve been alive) joined in to vote “no”, making it 39-30.

It wasn’t to join the winning side; it was for the next move in the legislative game.

Varela immediately moved for the House to “reconsider” its vote by putting the bill on the speaker’s table, something only someone who votes in the majority on any vote can do. That motion passed 35-33.

That vote kept the bill from dying completely, saving it for a compromise version sometime in the near future.

It’s a veteran move and one that kept the door open. The roll call will record Varela’s vote as a “no”, but it was the most supportive “no” he could’ve given.

Bill of the Day: House Bill 446

Rep. Yvette Herrell’s, R-Alamogordo, bill aims at expanding sex offender registration in New Mexico.

Her bill would require anyone who has to register as a sex offender in any other U.S. jurisdiction or certain foreign jurisdictions who moves to New Mexico to register as a sex offender regardless of whether their crime is a registerable crime in New Mexico.

This bill came up not because it’s moving particularly quickly (it isn’t). It’s moving because its concept was attached onto Rep. Gentry’s sex offender Facebook messaging ban bill.

The whole bill has now been sent back to House Judiciary for a hearing.

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