Proceedings of the last full day of the 2022 session

The sun rose Wednesday on the last full day of New Mexico’s 30-day legislative session for 2022, as lawmakers adjourned to agree on a budget for fiscal year 2023 and the fate of many bills, including omnibus voting rights and election security. package, over hot coals.

The nearly $8.5 billion proposed budget is headed to a conference committee after the state House of Representatives on Tuesday rejected an amended Senate bill. If the chambers do not agree on a budget before the close of business, the governor could call a special session to put together next year’s budget.

Previously:As time is running out, a New Mexico lawmaker is arrested and the crime bill moves forward

Lawmakers worked until late Tuesday night to finish work and pass an omnibus crime bill, a proposed interest rate cap on payday loans and an election. and the voting program, among others.

SB 144, originally a proposal making threatening or intimidating election workers a crime, was converted into an omnibus package on Tuesday when parts of two other bills, one dealing with election changes and one of voting rights, were added in a 165-page amendment.

The 2022 regular session of the part-time unpaid New Mexico Legislature ends Thursday at noon.

The Clean Fuel Standard Debate Continues

State Rep. Daymon Ely, D-Corrales, proposed an amendment to the Clean Fuel Standards Bill, SB 14, that would allow the San Juan plant to operate for a year beyond its date dropout in June. The amendment passed unopposed by the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee.

Prior to Ely’s amendment, it had passed the Senate by a vote of 25 to 16.

A previous measure to extend the service of the coal-fired power station by two years was rejected by the House on Monday.

New Mexico State Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, speaks during a videoconference meeting of the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee on Wednesday, 16 February 2022.

Senate Bill 14 would provide tax incentives to fuel producers to encourage the production of low-carbon fuel, and is sponsored by Senate Democrat Pro Tempore Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque. At Wednesday’s hearing, she rejected claims by Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, that this would lead to significant increases in fuel prices, saying there is a global market for the production of cleaner fuels.

State Rep. Nathan Small, D-Las Cruces, carrying the bill for the House, answered questions as the noon hour approached, opening the final 24 hours of the session. He was eliminated from the committee by a vote of 5 to 3.

Budget progress

It took a conference committee chaired by State Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, less than 10 minutes to emerge with a reconciled proposal that was approved by the House and then the Senate on Wednesday afternoon.

The six-person committee included three members from each chamber. From the house were Lundstrom and Reps Gail Armstrong, R-Magdalena and Nathan Small, D-Las Cruces. From the Senate: George Muñoz, D-Gallup, Siah Correa Hemphill, D-Silver City and Crystal Diamond, R-Elephant Butte.

Patty Lundstrom of Gallup, Democrat and chair of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, is seen during a meeting of the state Legislature Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The committee quickly approved five changes to the budget bill, including dispersing $125 million that had been earmarked for a hydrogen energy center, $50 million earmarked for a public-private partnership program and $75 million dollars allocated to the state cash reserve.

Two changes were rejected after Senate members of the conference committee opposed them. One would have allocated $30 million for improving the rural health care delivery system and allocating grants to hospitals providing services to the indigent, and the other was an additional $5 million earmarked. to soil and water conservation districts.

Last:The New Mexico Legislature approves a $1 billion increase in state spending. Here’s what that means for residents.

Interest rates on installment loans

A bill limiting interest rates on installment loans to 36% is on its way to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham after the House approved a Senate-amended version of HB 132.

A truck heads east along historic Route 66 past one of hundreds of small moneylenders operating in New Mexico, in Albuquerque, NM, Friday, Feb. 3, 2017.

After the endorsement was passed in the House, supporters began cheering and cheering, but were quickly silenced by House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe.

While the bill caps interest rates on payday loans, it also increases the maximum payday loan amount to $10,000 from $5,000 for up to two years. It also limits the accrual of interest and prohibits wage garnishment for reimbursement.

Supporters celebrated the bill’s provisions targeting predatory lending and collection practices by the industry, while critics had warned it would raise credit barriers for people who may not be eligible for government loans. banks or credit unions.

Helping non-English speakers

New Mexico is a culturally and linguistically diverse state, and a measure being routed to the governor aims to ensure non-English speakers receive help from agencies scattering medical and social services.

HB 22 would require state departments to develop and implement language access programs to assist individuals with access to state programs. A $50,000 appropriation included in the original bill was deleted before it was approved by the House and on Wednesday passed the Senate unopposed.

Investment projects

A capital spending bill totaling $827.7 million passed the House late Wednesday afternoon on a 64-0 vote. Lawmakers approved the Senate version of the bill passed by this chamber on Tuesday.

New Mexico State Representative Christine Chandler, D-Los Alamos, speaks in support of the capital spending bill at the State Capitol in Santa Fe on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022.

The package includes $390.4 million allocated to the governor and lawmakers for local projects, and a transfer of $85.5 million from the Public Schools Capital Expenditure Fund to the Public Schools Facilities Authority to distribute to school districts. for maintenance.

Read a list of projects by county here. The story continues below:

The House also approved a separate bill reauthorizing 147 capital projects funded between 2016 and 2021 and not including new spending.

The House continued its business as the Senate Judiciary Committee met elsewhere in the rotunda. This story may no longer be updated on Wednesday.

Algernon D’Ammassa can be reached at 575-541-5451, [email protected] or @AlgernonWrites on Twitter.

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