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Proposal to change NM session lengths gaining momentum

A proposed state constitutional amendment that’s headed to the Senate floor would change the length of New Mexico legislative sessions in even-numbered years. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

SANTA FE — A proposal to change the length of New Mexico’s legislative sessions in even-numbered years is just one step away from going before statewide voters.

The Senate Rules Committee voted 5-2 on Wednesday to approve the bipartisan proposal, House Joint Resolution 13, sending it on to the full Senate for consideration.

Currently, New Mexico has 60-day sessions in odd-numbered years and 30-day sessions in even-numbered years that are generally limited to budgetary matters and issues authorized for debate by the governor, per the state Constitution.

But critics say those limits have essentially made many issues off-limits in years with shorter sessions.

“It really is a glorified special session for the governor,” said House Minority Whip Rod Montoya, R-Farmington, one of the measure’s sponsors.

They also argue that setting a 45-day session length for even-numbered years and removing the limits on which topics can be debated would give lawmakers the ability to tackle more issues.

The change would cost the state an estimated $150,000 to $200,000 in additional costs if adopted, according to a legislative analysis.

The proposed constitutional amendment was approved in the House via a 45-21 vote on Monday. If passed by the Senate, it would go before New Mexico voters, likely in November 2022.

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