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NM lawmakers reach end of 30-day session

SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico legislators tied up the final loose ends of a 30-day session today, having already dispatched a $6.2 billion budget bill and legislation aimed at bringing the state into compliance with the federal Real ID Act.

With noon adjournment nearing, the House voted 63-4 to approve a bill aimed at regulating Uber and other online ride-sharing services.

Rep. Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque, the bill’s House sponsor, described ride-sharing companies as the “future of transportation.”

“By properly regulating companies like Uber and Lyft, we are giving New Mexicans another option for securing safe rides home,” Youngblood said.

Despite some criticism that the measure could hurt existing taxi companies, it now moves on to Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk for final approval.

Another bill headed to the governor after winning final approval today is House Bill 72, which would allow judges full access to adult offenders’ juvenile criminal records. That legislation has been dubbed Jaydon’s Law in honor of 17-year old Jaydon Chavez-Silver, who was killed while attending an Albuquerque house party last summer.

Compared with previous legislative sessions, there were few fireworks in the session’s final hours.

House members waited for the session’s final minutes to tick away, while Senate Democratic floor leader Michael Sanchez of Belen called it one of the quietest final days of a legislative session he could remember in 20 years.

A defining theme of this year’s session is the state’s worsening budget situation, which will require spending cuts for colleges and universities and some state agencies.

However, lawmakers have worked out compromises on bills dealing with tougher DWI laws, child exploitation penalties and a $166 million package of statewide public works projects.

Martinez, the state’s two-term Republican governor, has until March 9 to act on legislation sent to her by lawmakers in the final days of this year’s session.

She told reporters today after the Legislature’s adjournment that she was pleased lawmakers had — unlike in Washington D.C. — been able to find common ground on various issues.

“We were able to work together, Republicans and Democrats, to accomplish a great deal that New Mexicans can be proud of,” Martinez said.

However, the governor expressed disappointment that a proposed expansion of the state’s “three strikes” law and other tough-on-crime measures were not adopted.

She also accused “union-backed Democrats” of obstructing her administration’s education agenda.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, said he was disappointed Martinez and majority House Republicans did not support Democratic proposals to bolster New Mexico’s economy.

“It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about doing what’s right for the state of New Mexico,” Sanchez told reporters.

In addition to the budget and Real ID bills, another high-profile measure approved by lawmakers during this year’s 30-day session is a bail reform compromise that will go before statewide voters in November.

Click here for today’s story on the flurry of action yesterday at the Capitol.

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