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Martinez issues eighth unexplained veto in two days

SANTA FE – For the eighth time in two days, Gov. Susana Martinez on Wednesday vetoed legislation that had drawn broad bipartisan support in both chambers of the Legislature.

She offered no explanation for her decision in any of the veto messages – six of which were issued Wednesday and two on Tuesday.

The first bill she rejected Wednesday was aimed at making it easier for local governments to support the development of infrastructure for high-speed internet.

It won approval 37-1 in the Senate and 62-0 in the state House. A bipartisan pair of legislators sponsored it: Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, and Rep. James Smith, R-Sandia Park.

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Padilla immediately lashed out at the governor for the unexplained veto.

“After hearing the news that New Mexico has the highest unemployment in the nation,” Padilla said in a written statement, “it’s hard to imagine why Gov. Martinez would stand in the way of our cities and counties efforts to bring high-speed internet that would attract needed jobs and support local small businesses.”

Later in the day, she vetoed five other proposals – Senate Bill 184 to clarify rules for horse-race licenses and tests; Senate Bill 356, on notification to county treasurers about public improvement districts; House Bill 126, to clarify rules for a loan repayment program for medical students; Senate Bill 222, on the definition of political subdivisions; and Senate Bill 64, removing a sunset clause from a school capital outlay law.

Four of the bills had passed without a single dissenting vote, and the other had one “no” vote.

Martinez didn’t offer an explanation for any of the vetoes, and her office told the Journal that she had no comment.

Seven of the eight bills vetoed by Martinez over the past two days originated in the Senate.

That’s the same chamber that voted to override her veto of a different bill, House Bill 241, which would have allowed teachers to take more sick leave without damaging their annual evaluations.

Martinez described the override as petty and suggested the Senate is bitter because she won’t support tax increases as part of a budget package.

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It was the first time either chamber had voted to override a Martinez veto, which takes a two-thirds vote.

To overturn the governor’s veto, the House would also have to vote to override, and House Minority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, said he’s confident such a move would fail.

As for the two Senate bills vetoed Tuesday, one also had passed both chambers without a single dissenting vote. That measure, Senate Bill 67, would have required county treasurers to be notified about the creation of tax diversion districts.

The other measure, Senate Bill 134, would have allowed a unit of computer science to count toward a high school student’s math requirement. It passed with bipartisan majorities – 33-4 in the Senate and 67-0 in the House.

Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, expressed disappointment on the Senate floor as one veto was read into the record Wednesday.

“I was hoping there was some sort of a message so we can figure out which way to jump,” she said.

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