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2018 legislative session jolts to a start

SANTA FE — With the bang of a gavel, state House and Senate leaders opened this year’s 30-day session of the Legislature a few minutes after noon.

It’s the last regular session of Gov. Susana Martinez’s tenure, and she will be the center of attention today — when she delivers her eighth and final State of the State address.

Martinez is expected to focus on economic competition, education and crime-related issues in her speech. A two-term Republican, Martinez is barred from seeking re-election to a third term later this year.

As usual, the Roundhouse is filled with state and local elected officials, including Albuquerque’s new Mayor Tim Keller, a Democrat and former state senator himself.

Members of the state Senate will head over to the House of Representatives in a few minutes, and all 112 legislators will sit together to listen to Martinez’s speech.

It’s a 30-day session, and settling on a $6.3 billion operating budget will be a top priority. The rebound of oil and gas, among other sectors of the economy, is expected to provide lawmakers with a bit more flexibility this session, after years of belt-tightening that exhausted New Mexico’s financial reserves.

Martinez, a former prosecutor, has said she will also add public safety and crime to the agenda.

Legislative sessions in even-numbered years last 30 days, and they’re dedicated to budget and revenue measures, bills vetoed in the previous session and constitutional amendments.

The governor has authority to add other topics to the agenda.

In odd-numbered years, the sessions last 60 days and lawmakers are free to introduce any proposal they want.

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