SANTA FE – Deciding on a $6.5 billion-plus budget for the year that begins July 1 is the biggest job for the Legislature. The agenda for the 30-day session is restricted by law to budget and tax matters, changes to the state Constitution, and whatever other issues the governor approves. Here’s a quick look at proposals some lawmakers hope will be considered.
Enact “right-to-work” law; shield agricultural operations from being sued as nuisances; allow businesses to deny service to gay and transgender people; reduce workers’ compensation to claimants who were intoxicated; cap interest rates on small loans; expand veterans’ business preference; limit prevailing wage requirement on public works projects; increase minimum wage; create Rapid Workforce Development program; end workers’ compensation benefits in certain circumstances; modify renewable portfolio standards for energy production; increase funding for job training programs, businesses that relocate or expand.
Expand crimes subject to the”three strikes” law; add police, homeless to hate crimes law; close loophole for pornographic images sent to children; make each image of child pornography a separate crime; increase penalties for repeat DWI; add a felony for DWI with revoked license; create crime of DWI with minor in vehicle; hike penalties for child sexual predators in authority positions; legalize and tax marijuana; eliminate time limit for prosecuting second-degree murder; terminate parental rights of rapists; allow judges to deny bail to dangerous defendants; fund work on rape kit backlog; increase ignition interlock duration; allow extended orders of protection for convicted rapists; allow judges to consider some juvenile records of adult offenders; toughen child abuse penalties.
Increase teacher pay; require background checks for all school employees; increase percentage of college athletic scholarships to state residents; remove school superintendents from the School Personnel Act; require retention of third-graders who can’t read proficiently; allow professionals to be adjunct teachers; require lifesaving skills training for students; provide college credit for military training; put forfeited lottery prizes into tuition fund; require schools to develop bullying prevention policies; create K-5 Plus pilot project; increase distribution from permanent fund for early childhood education; deny driver’s licenses to truants.
Create an ethics commission by law or by changing the Constitution; clarify that corrupt public officials lose pensions; require reporting of governor’s inaugural spending; require audits and more reporting on governor’s contingency fund; require public reporting of allocations in the annual capital projects spending bill; require lobbyists’ employers to disclose spending and require lobbyists to disclose their legislation and spending on lawmakers; upgrade campaign finance reporting system; require more disclosure of public officials’ financial interests and potential conflicts of interest.
Create Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses or ID cards; allow police officers, other public employees, to return to work after retiring while still collecting pensions; provide bonuses to police officers who work after retirement age; require background checks on gun show buyers; allow communities to enact under-16 curfews; enact automatic voter registration; pay state legislators a salary; create an independent redistricting commission; create a Capital Outlay Planning Council; create a state inspector general; require reporting of independent campaign expenditures; change financing of public elections; authorize Department of Agriculture to research industrial hemp.
Ensure visitation rights of adult children whose parents are in another’s care; create an alert system for missing developmentally disabled persons; increase contribution rates to Retiree Health Care Fund; prohibit late-term abortions; require behavioral, developmental screenings for children on public assistance; expand behavioral health training for EMTs; fund supportive services for grandparents raising grandchildren; fund expanded services at school-based health centers.
Continue tax credit for home, small-business solar systems; enact gross receipts tax deduction for some businesses on Saturdays after Thanksgiving; raise the tax on tobacco products, including e-cigarettes; increase working families tax credit; reduce some oil and gas tax rates; create rural infrastructure tax credit; reduce some income tax rates; shift motor vehicle excise tax temporarily to road fund; enact income tax deduction for retired military; exempt sales of elk-hunting authorizations from gross receipts taxes; enact technology readiness gross receipts tax credit for national labs; delay corporate income tax rate reduction; reduce tax rate for some new businesses.