Updated: Monday, 18 Jul 2011, 10:18 PM MDT
Published : Monday, 18 Jul 2011, 10:18 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Lawmakers will discuss the contentious issue of redistricting, along with a number of other agenda items, when they meet for a special session in early September.
Governor Susana Martinez has not announced the official call, but spokesman Scott Darnell said many issues will make the cut, including:
There could also be a few spending fights. Darnell said funding for a food stamp program for the elderly and disabled and for shelved capital outlay projects could make an appearance.
Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque, who helped re-draw voting lines in 2001, said redistricting is already a time-consuming issue. The 2001 redistricting session lasted 18 days, according to the Legislative Council Services.
Garcia said he is most upset that Martinez will reintroduce driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, a bill that legislators debated for hours earlier this year.
"That issue has no business in redistricting," said Garcia. "If the Governor insists on bringing these wedge issues forward that instill fear, that instill division in our society, in our state in particular, we're going to be around until Halloween."
Republican and Democratic leaders have sent Martinez a letter, asking to focus solely on redistricting. Then, lawmakers suggest Martinez only take up "non-controversial" bills that the legislative leadership and the governor have agreed upon before the start of the session in a concurrent special session directly afterwards.
But Darnell said the governor believes one session is the most effective use of taxpayer money.
"While redistricting is being considered by a subset of lawmakers, there are a few very important items that are important to New Mexicans that should be considered by the Legislature as a whole."
Rep. Jimmie Hall, R-Albuquerque, said lawmakers in the Judiciary and Voters and Election Committees are the only ones that are needed for redistricting.
"Those in the legislature who are not in one of those two committees will just be sitting around, waiting for committee action," said Hall. "It's a terrible waste of the legislature's time."
When it comes to the driver's license bill, Hall said he doesn't expect debates to take up much time.
"It'll be a rehash," said Hall. "The last debate we debated a lot of procedural things and House rules almost as much as we debated the actual bill."
Every day the legislature is in session costs taxpayers money. The redistricting session in 2001 cost $631,000, or $38,100 a day, according to the Legislative Council Services. The four-day special session in March 2010 cost $163,000 or $40,800 a day.