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At the Roundhouse — The end

They’re outta here.attheroundhouse-150x150

The Senate and House adjourned shortly after noon.

Gov. Susana Martinez said she’ll sign a tax package and the budget and won’t call a special session.

But there’s still a lot more sorting out to do on who got what in the ongoing struggle between the Republican governor and the Legislature’s Democratic majorities. And line item vetoes remain a possibility in the budget bill, the governor said.

See the Sunday Journal or Legislature 2013 at for a complete wrap up of what the Legislature did and didn’t do.

The dramas of the final minutes were passage of the tax cut package aimed at appeasing the governor — which also includes a revived TV and film production  tax credit she’s already vetoed — and failure of  HB77 to close the so-called “gun-show loophole.”

Democrats rejected Martinez’s pushes  to bar driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, confirm Hanna Skandera as education secretary and require third-grade retention for students having trouble with reading.

Democrats sent her a bunch of their own agenda items, though, including a state minimum wage increase — aimed, they said, at redressing growing New Mexico “income inequality.”

*  *  *

One of my favorite speeches of the legislative session came Saturday morning from Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, Portales farmer and Republican.

“Mr. President, we need to get rid of these damn hogs.”

That was it. Short and to the point.

Ingle was introducing House Joint Memorial 28, Feral Hog Eradication Team, originally introduced by Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell. It passed.

*   *  *

Crop-decimating feral pigs are a big concern to farmers and ranchers on the eastside, but lawmakers acted on plenty of other legislation as they neared adjournment today.

They probably acted on and passed more than 100 of pieces of legislation in the last 24 hours.

Feral hogs, microbreweries liquor tax, community mental health teams, insurance coverage for autism, methamphetamine sales, education measures, game and fish measures…on and on. Stuff that citizens bugged them to go up to Santa Fe and do.

Often it is not headline-making stuff. And often lawmakers do it calmly and efficiently.

*  *  *

Senate and House leaders maintained decorum in the two chambers better than I’ve seen in years.

Longtime Rep. Kiki Saavedra, D-Albuquerque, thanked new House Speaker Ken Martinez, D-Grants, for his leadership after Martinez praised members for their work and getting along together, for the most part.

Saavedra, of course, is chairman of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, which originates the state budget and probably puts in longer hours than any committee in the Legislature.

Over in the Senate, first-term President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, said senators had behaved “like family” and praised their responsibility.

Senate Chief Clerk Lenore Naranjo and her staff — who like House Chief Clerk Steve Arias and his staff — work unbelievably long hours, before, during and after, got a standing ovation.

*  *  *

The House worked until 12:25 a.m. Saturday morning and returned at 9:12 a.m.


The Senate kept at it until 1:52 a.m. and reconvened at 8:04 a.m.

For better or worse, adjournment inevitably is at noon, although the clocks are on the wrists of House and Senate leaders, and they tend to keep their own time.

The Constitution says our 112 parttime lawmakers will meet for 60 calendar days in odd-numbered years. This 60-day exercise in doing the public’s business started on Jan. 15.

*  *  *

By 9:30 p.m. Friday, Sen. Bill O’Neill could barely talk.

It was night 59 of the 60-day  session and the Albuquerque Democrat was trying, but his voice sounded worn out.

He managed to put on his bill to require coverage of autism in group health insurance plans for public employees — a requirement already in place for the rest of the public. The Senate quickly approved the bill, also sponsored by Rep. James Smith, R-Sandia Park, sending it on to the governor.

Despite signs of wear and tear, the Senate as of mid-Friday night was whipping through big bills, also sending the governor measures for a state minimum wage, state health insurance exchange and educator pension plan reform.

It would have been dangerous to predict whether the conspicuous collegiality and efficiency as of mid-Friday night would prevail through the next 14 hours.

But it was an impressive show at least for a while,

*  *  *

I never was a fan of Latin until I started covering the New Mexico Legislature.

That’s when I learned those sweet words sine die.

They come after the word adjournment when legislative leaders move to formally end a legislative session.

The late-great KVSF radio newsman and oldies-show host Bob Barth used to have fun correcting New Mexico lawmakers’ pronunciation of sine die. Barth was a good Catholic boy and pronounced it correctly: seen-eh-dee-eh.

But I’ve always enjoyed what I interpret to be the cowboy pronunciation: sign-ee-die.

Either way, it means, “We’re outta here.”

*  *  *

Along with Barth, boy do I miss good ol’ cowboy legislators like the late Colfax County rancher-senator Johnny Morrow.

It was from Morrow that I learned the word “bumfuzzled,” which I guess is really a southern U.S. expression meaning confused, perplexed, flustered.

 Somehow, Morrow brought it with him from New Mexico’s high plains to the state Senate, where he served from 1971 through 1992.

Morrow was a guy “who always said just what he thought,” Gov. Bruce King recalled upon Morrow’s death in 2002.

And “bumfuzzled” always expressed just how I felt about trying to keep track of things in this big, round building in Santa Fe.

Read more about the outcome of the legislative session:
Highlights of 51st New Mexico Legislature
Overview: New Mexico Legislature adjourns



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