--2 IN SESSION: Ball in House's Court as Session Nears End
         
Dec. 7, 2016
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IN SESSION: Ball in House's Court as Session Nears End

Lots of work to do in little time

February 19, 2014, 10:40 am
By Matthew Reichbach
If you're looking for action on the final day of the legislative session, you might want to keep an eye on the House of Representatives.

The big legislation of the session -- what little there is -- has passed the Senate and is now pending in the House.

The House wass scheduled to convene at 10 am -- but that obviously hasn't happened. The scheduled times are mere suggestions. When the House does meet, the chamber will have a long agenda (which they're not obligated to follow in order and may add items to) and you can watch the legislative webcast here.

But here's a quick rundown of what to watch for today:

Budget

A budget proposal passed the Senate on a unanimous vote last night. The bill gives everyone a little bit of what they want and a lot of what they don't want. Martinez gets some merit pay and other education initiatives -- but only $17.5 million total in below-the-line spending.

Democrats get an across-the-board three percent pay raise for school employees -- but not the five-year phase-in of $10,000 pay raises for teachers that they were looking for.

"Nobody got everything they wanted," Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, told the Albuquerque Journal.

Just because a bill passes the Senate unanimously doesn't mean that it will have a clear pass through the House. But with a little more than 24 hours left in the session, that might dissuade some from trying to make alterations to the budget that they might make if there were a week left.

Minimum Wage

The House will take up a controversial minimum wage constitutional amendment. The amendment would ask voters to approve an increase of the minimum wage tied to the Consumer Price Index dated back to 2009. The amendment would also keep the minimum wage indexed to the CPI annually.

The debate could be bitter -- the amendment requires a majority of the chamber, not a voting majority. So supporters will need 36 votes to pass it. Democrats have just 35 votes and Rep. Sandra Jeff, D-Crownpoint, is anything but a reliable Democratic vote. Barring a Willis Reed-like entrance by the two missing Democrats -- which is just about guaranteed not to happen -- the vote will likely go down -- but not without debate.

Lottery scholarship solvency:

The Senate had a long late-night debate on a lottery scholarship fix that, much like the budget, no one was completely happy with. It was one of a dozen of lottery scholarship fixes that were introduced.

A handful of them passed the House -- some unanimously. But this fix likely won't be passed unanimously. There is some pressure to pass a fix and have Martinez sign it into law. Without a fix, the fund would not be solvent and run out of money.

Senate has work to do

The Senate has some things left as well. Most are non-controversial bills that won't have much debate (but some bills will surprise you when they generate a lot of debate). The big ticket item is the Navajo Nation Gaming Compact. The compact, which is opposed by the other tribes in the state, passed the House yesterday on a 36-30 vote.

 

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