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          Front Page


March 22, 2003




Overview Of What Passed, Failed During Legislative Session


   
   
   
The Associated Press
    A summary of what happened during the Legislature's 60-day session, which ended Saturday.
    BUDGET
    Passed: Measures providing $4.1 billion for operations of the Legislature, public schools, higher education and state agencies in the fiscal year that starts July 1. Financing of $140 million in state and local construction projections and capital improvements. Divert yearly tobacco settlement revenues into general budget account through 2006.
    Failed: The governor vetoed $2.1 million in state money from the main budget bill and $6.3 million was cut from a smaller budget measure. Supplemental bill to provide extra money for governor's initiatives, including child care and truancy programs.
    TAXES-FINANCE
    Passed: $360 million tax-cutting package to lower the top rate of the personal income tax over five years to 4.9 percent and implement a 50 percent deduction for capital gains. Increase cigarette tax by 70 cents a pack. Expand renewable energy tax credit to cover "biomass" plants that burn trees and other organic material to produce electricity.
    Failed: Increase gasoline tax by 5-cents-a-gallon for highway construction. Increase motor vehicle excise tax for highways.
    EDUCATION
    Passed: Comprehensive school improvement package to establish a three-level, competency-based licensing system for teachers, phase in a statewide minimum salary plan linked to the new licensing and define the duties of local school boards and administrators. Budget requirement for school districts to provide 6 percent average teacher pay raises starting in December. Establish Indian education act, establishing an Indian education division within the state Department of Education.
    Failed: Restrict sale of junk food and soda pop in schools. Suspend the driver's license of high school dropouts. Low-interest loans for entry-level teachers to buy houses.
    CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
    Passed: Overhaul the school governance system by creating a cabinet-level secretary of education who answers to the governor. Increase the yearly payout from the Land Grant Permanent Fund, providing more revenue for public education. Allow cities to hold runoffs in their municipal elections.
    Failed: Extend 30-day legislative sessions to 45 days. Provide annual salary to legislators.
    CRIME
    Passed: Provide extra prison time for offenders whose crimes are found by a court to have been motivated by hate. Prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation. Extend the time that convicted felons to try to prove their innocence with DNA evidence
    Failed: Repeal the death penalty. Expand death penalty-eligible crimes to include the murder of a child. Lengthen registration requirement for sex offenders under Megan's Law. Legalize medical use of marijuana.
    ALCOHOL-DWI
    Passed: Toughen penalties for repeat drunken driving offenders and require substance abuse treatment. Allow convicted drunken drivers with revoked driver's licenses to get special licenses if they installed ignition interlock systems. Make it a crime to operate a boat while intoxicated.
    Failed: Create crime of flying while intoxicated. Prohibit sale of liquor to people with four or more drunken driving convictions. Increase liquor excise tax to fund health and medical services.
    GAMBLING
    Passed: Allow race tracks, veterans and fraternal clubs to increase the payout from their slot machines. Permit New Mexico to continue with the multistate Powerball lottery if Mexico joined it in the future.
    Failed: Expand the hours gamblers can play racetrack slot machines.
    HEALTH
    Passed: Require hospital emergency rooms to offer emergency contraception to rape victims. Allow lower income New Mexicans over age 65 to obtain prescription drugs through a Medicaid waiver program.
    Failed: Require notification of a parent, and a 48-hour wait after that, before an unmarried girl 16 or younger could get an abortion. License and regulate individuals and businesses that practice "body art."
    ANIMALS
    Passed: Designate state butterfly, amphibian and reptile. Permit Game Commission to require bear-proof garbage containers on private or public lands.
    Failed: Outlaw cockfighting.
    GUNS
    Passed: Allow people 25 and older to be licensed to carry a concealed, loaded handgun. Make it a felony for most people to carry a firearm on university premises, including sports fields and buildings.
    Failed: Immunity for manufacturers and sellers of guns against lawsuits for damage claims stemming from gun use.
    ELECTIONS
    Passed: Public financing of campaigns of Public Regulation Commission candidates. Make state law comply with federal election requirements and qualify for federal money. Revise time periods for absentee voting. Require candidates to electronically file their campaign finance disclosure reports.
    Failed: Redraw court-ordered boundaries of congressional districts. Require voter identification system at polling places. Increase the voter requirements for the Green Party to maintain its designation as a major political party.
    BUSINESS-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
    Passed: Increase unemployment benefits, expand eligibility and reduce employer tax rates. Permit the state to invest in more film projects. Funding for in-plant training program. Allow counties and cities to exempt equipment of businesses from property taxes. Increase state minimum wage to $5.15 an hour.
    Failed: Block Santa Fe's "living wage" ordinance and prevent other communities from enacting similar laws. Tax incentives for businesses that create high-wage jobs.
    GOVERNMENT
    Passed: Improve retirement benefits for legislators. Permit governor to elevate four agencies, including Agency on Aging, to cabinet-level department by executive order. Create New Mexico-Chihuahua Commission and an Office of Military Base Planning and Support.
    Failed: Increase penalties for open meetings violations. Allow the public to attend meetings of legislative conference committees.
    WATER
    Passed: Allow gray water for landscaping.Provide for development of state water plan. Earmark 10 percent of state bonding for water project. Permit leasing of water rights by irrigation districts to cities and others.
    Failed: Require water conservation plans for new electric power plants. Tax exemption for water conservation equipment such as more efficient irrigation systems. Establish new system of water court divisions within district courts.