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At the Roundhouse

Daily roundups of the N.M. legislative session by John Robertson

At the Roundhouse: Dog-tired

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Only about 24 hours left. Still issues that could blow things up. Or maybe it will be a fairy tale.

Or maybe it’s just sleep deprivation talking. Everyone is getting a little rocky. And I’m getting the feeling that my dog, who’s never bitten anyone, human, canine or otherwise, might like to take a bite out of this Legislature.

We’ll have the answers by noon Thursday. Meanwhile, I’m imagining that Coop on picnic tableCooper over the years has learned to recognize the words sine die. I might know more if this “Aussie X” guy, as the animal shelter called him, had a tail. But, then again, I sense he has little regard for the legislative process.

Senate Minority Whip Bill Payne, the retired rear admiral, probably will keelhaul me for whining and writing about my dog. He will remind me that lawmakers are working long and hard up here on big New Mexico issues and question why I’m not reporting on the more important stuff.

I’m just sayin’.

 It’s the morning of Day 29 of New Mexico’s 30-day session legislative session.

Even with just a day left, it’s too soon to call it a good or bad session, or something in between. It just seems murkier than usual. But Journal staffers Dan Boyd, Deborah Baker and Jim Monteleone are doing their darndest to report the news. 

The state budget, passed by the Senate with amazing, 42-0 consensus on Tuesday, was headed to the House. House leaders have been plugged in on the numbers all along and Senate leaders were hopeful that it would be well received. Gov. Susana Martinez issued a cautious but optimistic sounding statement.

At The RoundhouseBut you never know about the narrowly divided House membership. Remember, they couldn’t get enough votes to pass a budget out the first time around, leading the Senate to take the initiative.

Finding more money for the struggling New Mexico lottery scholarship fund has turned out to be a potential show stopper. It’s clear that finding that money is a cause very close to the heart of Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen. The Senate late Tuesday night passed a proposed a fix with liquor tax money, although some members of the Democratic majority voted against it. Here is the roll call vote. The Senate-passed budget also includes money for the scholarships. I got the feeling that Sanchez isn’t going to want anyone to go home before he sees the health of the scholarships improved.

As always, capital outlay projects, or the proverbial pork, are hanging fire until the last hours of the session They’re always worth at least a mini blow-up if not a catastrophic one. Or, if the portions are acceptable all around, the feast proceeds amicably.

Tuesday night, senators were fearful of bringing up a bill to calling for  subsidized electric rates for large-scale industrial investors. Critics are leery  of more state incentives with uncertain returns while proponents argue the need to spur job creation. Bottom line, though, sponsors and opponents alike thought that putting the bill on the Senate floor Tuesday night would have, as majority leader Sanchez said, “shut this place down.”

And, oh yeah, that Native American gambling compact, with the pueblos and the Navajos at odds over Navajo casino expansion into pueblo market area. It was among the lingering and more ominous-seeming issues approaching midnight on Day 28.

I’m probably overlooking a half-dozen other potential bombshells. And, as I say, I am not precluding a happy ending. But my dog is waiting for a walk before I head out to be with whatever the heck it is that’s disrupting his life.

 

 

 

 

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