Issues at stake at Legislature 2022 - Albuquerque Journal

Issues at stake at Legislature 2022

New Mexico lawmakers return to the Roundhouse at noon Tuesday, Jan. 18, for the start of a 30-day session. Per the state’s Constitution, the issues considered will be limited to budgetary and revenue bills, along with items added to the agenda by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Important dates
Jan. 18: Opening day (noon)
Feb. 2: Deadline for bill introduction
Feb. 17: Session ends (noon)
March 9: Legislation not acted upon by governor is pocket vetoed
May 18: Effective date of legislation not carrying an emergency clause or other specified date

 

These are some issues that could be debated.

BUDGET / TAXES
• Eliminate the tax on Social Security benefits for all but the wealthiest New Mexicans and offset the lost revenue with a tobacco tax increase.
• Reduce the state’s gross receipts tax base rate by 0.125 percentage points.
• Create tax deduction for purchase of tampons and other feminine hygiene products. Establish new income tax credit for electric vehicles.

CRIME
• Abolish life in prison without parole for juveniles sentenced as adults.
• Prohibit “chop shops” that strip and dismantle stolen vehicles.
• Remove statute of limitations on prosecution of second-degree murder charges.
• Add more crimes to list of crimes that trigger life sentence upon third violent felony conviction.

 

ETHICS / TRANSPARENCY
• Require legislators and lobbyists to disclose more information, including lawmakers’ sources of personal income.
• Create public works commission to vet proposed capital outlay projects.
• Mandate that recipients of state economic development initiatives provide more job-creation data

 

EDUCATION
• Boost starting teacher pay to $50,000 annually.
• Increase stipends for those participating in teacher residency programs.
• Provide funding to increase number of school nurses.
• Limit increases in spending on administrative expenses so that more money goes into classrooms.
• Make taking a financial literacy class a high-school graduation requirement.

 

COURTS
• Change state’s pretrial detention laws to make it easier for individuals charged with violent crimes to be kept in jail until trial.
• Spend $45 million to bolster retirement system for judges.
• Allow prison inmates age 55 and older with chronic medical conditions to apply for parole.

HEALTH / COVID-19 PANDEMIC
• Earmark $60 million in federal relief funds to purchase high-quality face masks and at-home COVID-19 test kits for state residents.
• Expand nursing programs at New Mexico higher education institutions.
• Limit an emergency declaration by the governor to 90 days unless the Legislature is called into special session to address the emergency.
• Convene a task force to make recommendations for paid family and medical leave.

ENVIRONMENT
• Propose $50 million in general obligation bonds for forest thinning, watershed restoration and other conservation projects.
• Approve “Green Amendment” making a clean and healthy environment a constitutional right.
• Set up state reforestation center to address impact of climate change on forests.
• Boost funding by $12 million for state engineer to carry out water planning, administration and management.
• Add $60 million to the water trust fund.

ENERGY

• Establish legal framework for making New Mexico a hydrogen energy hub.
• Offer income tax credits for energy storage systems.
• Require extra registration fees for electric and plug-in vehicles, with revenue directed to roads improvements.
• Enact new clean fuel standards.

 

VOTING / ELECTIONS
• Allow 16-year-olds to vote in local elections.
• Expand early and absentee voting.
• Automatically restore voting rights of felons who aren’t incarcerated.
• Make it easier to register to vote online.
• Create option for straight-party voting.
• Expand timeline for Indigenous nations to request alternate voting sites.
• Make Election Day a state holiday.
• Allow independent voters to participate in primary elections.

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