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Lawmakers put final touches on 30-day session

Gov. Susana Martinez described this year’s 30-day legislative session as a success, telling reporters lawmakers were able to pass a number of compromise measures during the session’s final days.

While the Republican governor described the session as “too political” at times, she cited the state budget, legislation that would create an online state business portal and more money for pre-Kinderarten programs as successes.

“We don’t always agree, and no one got everything they wanted — it’s a typical session,” Martinez said. “But we can all be proud of what we achieved here together during the last 30 days.”

The governor has until March 12 to act on bills approved by lawmakers during the session’s final days.

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New Mexico lawmakers wrapped up their work for this year’s legislative session, passing a fix for the state’s cash-strapped lottery scholarship program in the final minutes before adjournment.

The dramatic action began when Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, successfully amended a Senate-passed lottery scholarship bill.

That sent the bill back to the Senate, which signed off on the changes with just minutes remaining in the session.

Harper, who said the changes could make the solvency fix more lasting, acknowledged he wasn’t sure if the changes would pass muster in the Senate.

“It definitely was not scripted,” he told reporters.

Meanwhile, Senate Democratic Leader Michael Sanchez of Belen, the sponsor of the Senate-passed bill, said he didn’t agree with the tweaks to the measure but said he did not want to see it go up in flames.

“I’m disappointed that they changed it and I honestly think it’s going to hurt some people, especially some lower-income people,” he said.

The measure now advances to Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk for final approval.

Earlier today, the House signed off on Senate changes to a $233 million package of public works projects, including $86 million for dams, wells and other water projects.

A $6.2 billion budget is already en route to Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk, after the House voted 58-8 yesterday to endorse a Senate-backed spending plan. You can read details about the budget bill here.

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