Monday, February 8, 2016
Legislative Roundup. Here you can catch up on everything that happened this past week.
Legislative Roundup. Here you can catch up on everything that happened this past week. ******************** In the Name of Progress Week Three at the NM Legislature has taken quite a different route for NMFLB. Water bills and memorials were the concentration of our efforts this week. Most of the focus of the legislature has been centered around the budget and trying to get a balanced budget passed. While much work has been done to try and insure that important programs remain intact there have been some cutbacks that are being felt by all. Most importantly to our constituent base is the fourth of a percent decrease in higher education. That will have a significant impact on the way our state’s ag-college operates and the NM Department of Agriculture budget. The budget has passed from the house committee and should be heard on the floor, no telling what the senate may do, as they can amend it and send it back with totally different requests of the house. Earlier in the week an amended version of House Joint Memorial 3, Importance of Environmental Education Week, sponsored by Representative Kelly Fajardo, passed out of the House. NMFLB was able to work on this memorial and provide valuable amendments that would include the NMDA and the Extension service in the educational components. Senate Majority Leader, Michael Sanchez, who also amended his version to include some small part of agriculture, sponsored the senate companion of HJM 3. It was important to include NMDA and Extension as they already have in place educational mechanisms to help provide more to stewardship and understanding of where food comes from. Other memorials running this week, Representative Maestas-Barnes, HM 43 Alternative Land Designations Near Pecos, this memorial asks that the US Forest Service reconsider expansion of wilderness areas and designate them in concordance with the outlying gateway communities. This begs the question what are the alternatives possible here and would it be any better. It also lacks the denouncement of the further designation of wilderness area, which would be instrumental in sending a message for the state and governmental control of multi-use lands. The newest member of the House, Representative Lechuga-Tena, ran with the ever-popular, puppy and kitty memorial, HM 70 Companion Animal Over Population, this piece of legislation has become a right of passage for almost every new legislator. It has been rolled over in committee and it has been requested that the sponsor come back with a substitute version, no word at this time if that will come to fruition. There has been quite a bit of scuttle about HB 196 and senate companion 204, this legislation deals with the establishment of new regional water authorities. There is quite a bit of heavy-handedness contained in the incredibly cumbersome language of the bill that would give new powers of condemnation, compelling individuals to join authorities, preventing future drilling, and placing liens on property. Many different people and industry have a great deal of heartburn about this legislation. NMFLB has worked with one of the sponsors and is hopeful that a stakeholders meeting can take place to begin looking at alternatives to some of the language that may still help in accomplishing some of the goals of the legislation. Workers compensation bills pertaining to agriculture are now both numbered and the senate bill is 244, which has been placed on the calendar of Senate Conservation committee. NMFLB continues to monitor this legislation, but by board direction will not be participating in its advancement. There is a second bill being carried by Senator Barela SB 283, this bill has different merits, but is still not in the best interest of the legal fight being conducted by the NMFLB at this time. Senator Cisneros is carrying SB 294, the gross receipts exemption bill for landowners. The bill will be heard in Senate Corporations this week. It has good merit and NMFLB will be there to support. It is unclear at this time that the bill will see much action in the senate as it heads from corporations to finance and there isn’t too many good feelings about exemptions in that committee. We will be in close conversation with both committees and remain open to suggestion. That’s the long and the short of it for week three. Please, stay tuned as we are working through the weekends now and nearing the end, things are bound to get exciting. As always, if you have any questions do not hesitate to contact NMFLB staff. Zach Riley Director of Government Affairs and NE Regional Director