SANTA FE (KRQE) - With just eight days left in the session, a brewing battle between the House and Senate threatens to slow down the lawmaking process to a halt.
During a Senate Public Affairs committee hearing Thursday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez stormed in while House Majority Whip Rep. Moe Maestas , D-Albuquerque, was having one of his bills heard.
"I just was told by your chair of House Appropriations that they're not going to hear any Senate bills because we're not hearing any House bills," Sanchez said. "So I'm going to ask our chairs to stop hearing your bills."
"The game's on," Sanchez continued. "So [if] you guys want to play the game, we'll play the game. ... If we want to create that problem, we can create it right now."
Sanchez's anger was directed at House Appropriation and Finance chair Rep. Kiki Saavedra, D-Albuquerque. Saavedra declined to comment when asked what sparked the feud.
The blow-up comes with just more than a week to go in the 60-day legislative session. As of Thursday, eight total bills had been sent to the Governor's desk. The House has passed seven Senate bills while the Senate has passed just one House bill, the bill needed to fund the legislature.
None of those bills represent major priorities for either party.
Sanchez's threat could cause gridlock if the House and Senate battle for too long.
House Speaker Ken Martinez , D-Grants, played down the blow-up when reached for interview. He says he'll try and calm things down.
"I will meet with Senate leadership, the House leadership will meet with them, [Republicans] and [Democrats] on both sides and say let's try to have a little bit of fairness and let's make sure we're getting some House bills heard in the Senate," Martinez said. "I don't care if it's a House or Senate bill. I care if it's a good bill."
Early indications Thursday night were that the rift was already healing. Saavedra's committee heard several Senate bills later in the evening.
Some of the bitterness may have been caused by a House floor vote to block a popular Senate proposal Thursday. SB 336, a bill effectively allowing senators and other elected officials serving four year terms to double the contribution limits they can receive from individual donors, passed the Senate 40-0. But the House representatives, who are elected to two-year terms and wouldn't be affected, voted down the bill 34-32, killing the legislation.
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