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Session ends with cordial words between House leaders

SANTA FE – Control of the state House changed hands ahead of this year’s session.

Democrats won back a narrow majority after Republicans had an edge for two years.

Rep. Brian Egolf

Rep. Brian Egolf

But the relationship between the top party leaders – Minority Leader Nate Gentry, an Albuquerque Republican, and House Speaker Brian Egolf, a Santa Fe Democrat – remained cordial.

In the session’s last minutes, Gentry thanked Egolf for honoring his commitments and keeping communication open with Republicans during the session.

Egolf, in turn, thanked the entire House for working together on so many bills, despite their differences in some tough debates.

“We came up here under incredibly difficult and challenging times,” he said.

Rep. Nate Gentry

Rep. Nate Gentry

SIGNED, VETOED: Gov. Susana Martinez signed four bills into law Saturday, including a measure aimed at making it easier for New Mexico college students to transfer credits between state universities.

The two-term Republican governor also vetoed one bill, a proposal to allow qualified disabled veterans to get two specialty license plates free of charge.

Martinez said the vetoed bill, Senate Bill 297, would have cost the state more than $500,000 in forgone registration fees, part of which are used for statewide road repairs.

In all, the governor has signed 20 bills and vetoed 15 from this year’s 60-day legislative session. She has until April 7 to act on bills passed during the session’s final days.

SECRECY: A proposal to carve a new exemption into New Mexico’s public records law – shielding the identities of victims to certain crimes – won approval from the House and Senate on Saturday.

Senate Bill 149, sponsored by Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, now heads to the governor.

The proposal would allow the names of victims and witness to be withheld in cases of rape, stalking and similar crimes, but only until criminal charges are filed. After that, they would be available in public documents, alongside the names of the person charged with a crime.

The Journal and other media outlets generally don’t identify the victims of rape or domestic violence while reporting on criminal cases, even when the names are in public documents.

The bill passed without a dissenting vote in either chamber.

JAILED MOMS: In the closing hours of the session, the House passed a bill that would require judges to consider an inmate’s pregnancy or need to nurse a child when making decisions on her sentence or conditions of release.

The goal is to promote bonding between a mother and infant.

Senate Bill 277, sponsored by Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, now goes to the governor.

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