2016 Legislature: What they did

A look at proposals that passed and failed during the 30-day legislative session that ended Thursday. Gov. Susana Martinez has until March 9 to act on legislation approved by lawmakers.

BUDGET/TAXES

PASSED: $6.2 billion budget shaving overall spending, but including increases for public schools, Medicaid, prison guards and state police officers; $166 million for state and local capital improvements funded largely through severance tax bonds; $186 million for infrastructure projects funded by general obligation bonds; transferring $130 million from various government accounts to shore up budget; allowing use of lodger’s tax to underwrite airline service to communities.

FAILED: Delay of pending increase in corporate income tax rate; gasoline tax increase; redistribution of the motor vehicle excise tax to state and local road funds; increase in tax on tobacco products; reimposition of food tax; exempting veterans’ pensions from income tax; extension of solar tax credit expiring this year; tax credit for business owners who can demonstrate gender pay equity; gross receipts tax exemption for elk-hunting authorizations; repeal of capital gains deduction; tax break for small-business owners.

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EDUCATION

PASSED: Change in state law to ensure military veterans are not denied tuition assistance; removal of some testing requirements for ninth- and 10th-grade students; addition of lifesaving skills training to public school health classes; more flexibility for school districts to design breakfast programs for hungry students; putting forfeited lottery prize money into scholarship fund; expand to 5th grade a program that extends the school year in schools with disadvantaged students.

FAILED: Revamp of the funding formula for the lottery scholarship program; ending practice of “social promotion” by holding back third-graders who can’t read proficiently; closing a background check loophole for school employees; allowing industry professionals as classroom teachers; identifying students at risk of truancy, suspending driving privileges for truants; constitutional amendment to increase the annual payout from a state permanent fund for schools, other institutions.

APD investigation of a shooting near Dallas and CentralCRIME/PUBLIC SAFETY

PASSED: Overhaul of the state’s bail system to keep the most dangerous defendants behind bars and make sure poor, nonviolent suspects don’t languish in jail; tougher sentences for some repeat DWI offenders; access for judges to some adult defendants’ juvenile criminal records; funding to address the backlog of untested evidence kits from sexual assaults and rapes; requirement for New Mexico courts to share mental health records with federal officials for background checks for gun purchases; extending orders of protection for rape victims.

FAILED: Expansion of the state’s three-strikes law for repeat violent offenders; mandatory minimum sentences for serious violent offenses; adding law enforcement officers to the state’s hate crimes law; penalties for assault on a CYFD worker; increased penalties for intentional child abuse; increased penalties for abuse of a child 12-18 resulting in death.

BUSINESS/LABOR

PASSED: Reducing unemployment compensation tax rates for some employers; allowing for more investment in New Mexico’s private equity funds; creation of a rapid workforce development program; allowing the New Mexico Spaceport Authority to apply for a liquor license; supporting the Eddy-Lea County Energy Alliance’s pursuit of a temporary storage facility for spent nuclear fuel; shielding some agricultural operations from nuisance lawsuits; reduction in workers’ compensation benefits if alcohol, drugs contributed to injury or death.

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FAILED: “Right-to-work” legislation; right to refuse services to gay people for religious reasons; exempting projects and contracts for public roads and educational institutions from the state’s public works minimum wage act; employers, insurers not required to pay for medical marijuana; pre-empting local governments from enacting higher minimum wage.

GOVERNMENT

PASSED: Bringing New Mexico into compliance with tougher federal ID requirements for driver’s licenses, and creating driver’s authorization cards for undocumented immigrants and others; clarifying regulations to allow ride-booking companies like Uber and Lyft to operate in New Mexico; allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primaries if they’ll be 18 by the general election; allowing off-highway vehicles on roadways if local ordinances OK it.

FAILED: Allowing retired police officers to return to work while still collecting pension benefits; reform of the capital outlay process for funding public projects; allowing local governments to impose curfews on minors under the age of 16; requiring background checks on gun show buyers; legalizing marijuana.

HEALTH/FAMILY

PASSED: Making antidotes to opioid overdoses more widely available; providing assisted outpatient treatment for the mentally ill; creation of a “Brittany Alert” for missing people with developmental disabilities or severe physical impairment; requirement for student athletes with concussions to sit out for at least 10 days; authorizing the New Mexico Finance Authority to issue cigarette tax revenue bonds for Department of Health facilities; clarify jurisdiction for malpractice lawsuits when health care is provided in other states.

FAILED: Constitutional amendment to increase annual payout from a state permanent fund for early childhood programs; ban on late-term abortions; ensuring visitation rights of adult children whose parents are in another’s care; requiring behavioral, developmental screenings for children on public assistance.

ETHICS

PASSED: Modernization of New Mexico’s online reporting system for political contributions and lobbying expenditures; House-passed rules change to archive webcasts of House committee meetings and floor sessions.

FAILED: Legislation creating a state ethics commission to oversee the conduct of public officials, lobbyists and state contractors; disclosure of money being funneled toward political campaigns by nonprofits and other independent groups; toughening of pension forfeiture law aimed at corrupt public officials; reporting of governor’s inaugural spending; public reporting of allocations in the annual capital projects spending bill.

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