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Governor signs off on ‘rocket docket’ bills

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – A bundle of bills that blasted through the Roundhouse during the legislative session’s first three weeks were signed into law on Monday by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who described them as proof of a new bipartisan energy.

“Today is a signal that we are, in fact, working together,” the Democratic governor said during a news conference in her office, as about 25 lawmakers looked on.

All of the “rocket docket” bills signed into law by Lujan Grisham were based on previous measures that were vetoed in 2017 or last year by her predecessor, former Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who in some cases offered no explanation for her vetoes.

Top Democratic legislators fast-tracked the bills during the opening stanza of this year’s 60-day session, sending them to just one committee for vetting and then moving them quickly along for floor votes.

While a few of the “rocket docket” bills encountered opposition and lost momentum, most of them advanced quickly and gained broad support.

“I think we’ve come up with true consensus bills,” said Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe.

The 42 bills signed Monday were sponsored by a mix of Democrats and Republicans. The list of bills includes zHouse Bill 227, which will allow teachers to take at least 10 sick days annually without their evaluations being negatively affected.

After a similar bill was vetoed by Martinez in 2017, the state Senate voted to override the governor’s veto. A similar attempt was also launched in the House, but fell short of the votes necessary for a successful override.

The list also includes Senate Bill 191, which is aimed at closing a loophole in the state law regarding lobbyists’ duty to disclose expenditures of less than $100. That bill will take effect July 1.

The rocket docket concept is a new one at the Roundhouse, as a majority of bills are typically not approved by lawmakers until the final weeks of a 60-day legislative session.

Some House GOP leaders voiced concern about how the bills were handled and whether the chamber’s 20 new members – who were elected to office last fall – would get a sufficient opportunity to review them.

But several Republican lawmakers attended Monday’s news conference in the Governor’s Office, and one of them lauded the Democratic governor for her open communication with legislators.

“It does take working with both sides of the aisle to get something accomplished for the good of New Mexico,” said Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell.

For her part, Lujan Grisham also defended the Legislature’s vetting of the rocket docket bills, saying they were not merely a list of “legislative ideas.” Each of the signed bills was sent to at least one committee in both the House and Senate, she pointed out.

Meanwhile, top-ranking lawmakers and the governor also said the unusual fast-tracking was intended to send a message.

As House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, put it: “We’ve had eight years of lost time and we have a lot of catching up to do.”


‘Rocket docket’ bills list

Here is the full list of “rocket docket” bills signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday.

SB 9: Psychologist Prescription Certificates

SB 18: Local Government Planning Fund

SB 28: Placement of Children in Protective Custody

SB 48: Student Diabetes Management Act

SB 58: Evidence and Research Based Funding Requests

SB 77: Landowner Liability for Cave Exploration

SB 106: Short-Term Occupancy Rentals Tax

SB 117: Wastewater System Financing

SB 118: Protect Confidentiality of Crime Victims

SB 145: Coordinate Medical Transport

SB 149: Rename Alcohol & Gaming Division

SB 150: Homeowner Associations Changes

SB 157: Sick Leave for Educational Retirement Credit

SB 164: Prizes & Gifts for Insurance Customers

SB 179: Disabilities Students Lottery Scholarships

SB 189: Mobility Limitation Transport Placards

SB 191: Lobbyist Reporting Requirements

SB 193: Beef Council Assessment Opt-Out

SB 197: Judge Pro Tempore Fund

SB 198: Admin Office of the Courts Director Funds

SB 199: Electronic Communications Privacy Act

SB 200: Massage Therapy Act

SB 215: Maternal Mortality & Morbidity Prevention Act

SB 236: Disabled Veteran License Plate Options

SB 244: Legal Services for Land Grants & Acequias

HB 44: Career-Technical Teacher Development

HB 50: Audit Reviews by Board of Finance

HB 66: Mammogram Info Disclosure

HB 72: Occupational Therapy Scope of Practice

HB 74: Traditional Historic Community Qualifications

HB 97: Local Government Investment Pool Participants

HB 203: Economic Development Finance & Ag Enterprises

HB 216: File County Subdivision Ordinances with State

HB 217: Infrastructure Development Zone Meetings

HB 226: Add Lay Midwives as Practitioners

HB 227: Use of Teacher Attendance for Evaluations

HB 229: Regional Air Center Special Economic District

HB 237: Extend University Police Officer Authority

HB 242: Contact Lens & Glasses Prescriptions

HB 250: Native American Student Needs Assessments

HB 257: Enviro Services Gross Receipts Uses

HB 276: Establish Advanced Mapping Fund

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