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Opinion of high court on vetoes requested

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Supreme Court has been asked to step in and decide whether Gov. Susana Martinez is likely to win the legal fight over 10 bills she vetoed in March.

A district judge ruled in August that the governor’s vetoes were invalid – either because she vetoed them too late or failed to meet a constitutional requirement to explain her objections – and allowed the bills to become law.

But the governor appealed, and she says the bills shouldn’t take effect until the litigation concludes.

The state Court of Appeals this week asked the Supreme Court to consider the case – a procedure intended to resolve important public policy questions quickly.

Linda M. Vanzi, chief judge of the Court of Appeals, and one of her colleagues, Judge J. Miles Hanisee, said any ruling they make is almost certain to be appealed to the Supreme Court.

And given “the significance of this matter to the public we are disinclined to delay such a review,” they wrote.

The Supreme Court, however, isn’t obligated to take the case and hadn’t decided whether to accept it as of Wednesday evening.

At issue are 10 bills that passed the Legislature – most with broad, bipartisan support – during this year’s 60-day legislative session before the governor vetoed them during a tense standoff over the state budget.

The legislation includes bills allowing computer science to count toward a student’s math and science requirements, allowing industrial hemp to be grown for research purposes and giving local governments more leeway to expand broadband access.

Half of the bills passed without any dissenting votes, and the Martinez administration even testified in support of at least one of them.

In a three-page order, the Court of Appeals said the governor’s appeal raises “issues of substantial public interest that should be determined by the Supreme Court.”

The legal questions include whether the bills should have been allowed to take effect even as an appeal is pending and whether District Judge Sarah Singleton followed proper procedures in making her initial ruling, the Court of Appeals said.

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