$100K proposed for study of NM legislative structure - Albuquerque Journal

$100K proposed for study of NM legislative structure

The Roundhouse in Santa Fe. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE — A spending bill awaiting action by the governor would dedicate $100,000 to a study on legislative staffing needs, compensation and the structure of legislative sessions.

The study would be handled by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of New Mexico.

Debate over modernizing the Legislature has intensified in recent years as Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike have proposed changes to the state’s system of citizen legislators and short, intense legislative sessions.

New Mexico lawmakers draw per diem payments rather than a salary, and much of their work is handled in regular sessions of 30 or 60 days in alternating years.

Rep. Joy Garratt, D-Albuquerque, said she saw first hand this year the difference between holding a day job while serving and being able to focus full-time on the session.

After retiring as a teacher, she said, she no longer spent evenings calling parents and instead devoted more time talking to experts and going over legislation.

“You have time to more deeply understand a bill, its impact, its possible unintended consequences,” she said. “You have more time to craft good legislation.”

She and Democratic Rep. Angelica Rubio of Las Cruces secured $100,000 in Senate Bill 48 to cover the cost of a study on the structure of the Legislature.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has until Wednesday to act on the proposal and others passed in the final days of the session.

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