Expect one measure to pass this special session: a small incentive for state businesses.


Sure, Gov. Susana Martinez has packed her special redistricting session agenda with far more than just reshaping New Mexico's voting borders. Ending social promotion, banning fireworks and, yes, repealing a law allowing undocumented immigrants driver's licenses have left more than a few up in arms.

But other items on the list are relatively noncontroversial bills that were vetoed earlier this year based on technicalities. Sen. Tim Keller (D-Bernalillo) argues that his in-state business preference bill was one of them. While New Mexico already gives a 5 percent preference to state companies that bid on public projects—meaning if a New Mexico company makes a bid within 5 percent of an out-of-state company, it wins the contract—many out-of-state companies are exempt from this.

"The state is actually losing money from the current law," Keller tells SFR.

Keller says the current law has 37 exemptions, which come at a cost of 3,000 to 5,000 jobs, including out-of-state universities, food companies and New York telecom companies, Keller says.

An example he cites is Albuquerque-based Creamland Dairy's loss of a $2.5 million contract with Albuquerque Public Schools to an Arizona company. Keller maintains his bill will close loopholes like these.

Still, Martinez vetoed Keller's bill during the regular session.

"She had a problem with three words," Keller tells SFR.

The governor's office worried three or so words could have led to lawsuits over state land leases from out-of-state oil and gas companies, Keller says.

In an e-mail to SFR, Martinez spokesman Greg Blair writes "we discovered a drafting error that would have created the unintended consequence of requiring private companies operating on state land to comply with the state's procurement code."

Keller has since dropped that clause.