SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Monday, February 6, it’s another busy day at the Roundhouse. Among the dozens of bills being discussed are some impacting the state’s film industry and bills to change how legislators do their jobs.

Film bills

On the schedule are several bills affecting the film industry. While much of the investments into the state’s film industry are relatively recent, moviemaking brings billions of dollars to the state, according to the New Mexico Economic Development Department. So, it’s no surprise that the legislative session includes film-focused bills.

One up for debate is House Bill 23. Sponsored by Miguel P. García (D-Abq.), the bill sets employment laws for workers on and near film sets.

The bill aims to give “background artists” fair treatment, reasonable wages, and proper payment, according to a Legislative Finance Committee analysis. That means workers who aren’t necessarily in front of the camera, but nonetheless crucial to productions, would have more legal protections.

Another bill up for debate is a bill to remove some existing film tax credits. Sponsored by a handful of Republican lawmakers, House Bill 237 aims to repeal a set of tax credits the state offers film production companies. It would allow the existing credit-grantees to use their credits but would prevent new ones from being issued under the existing law.

Legislative changes

Lawmakers are also looking at potential changes to how they themselves do business. Up for debate are a couple bills that would shake up the lawmaking system.

House Joint Resolution 2, sponsored by a handful of Democratic lawmakers, would make some big changes, including making every regular legislative session 60 days. Currently, even-numbered years are 30-day sessions.

The bill would also require a break in the middle of the legislative session. And it would let pending legislation continue on from one year to the next.

Another joint resolution sponsored by Democratic lawmakers would open the door for paying state legislators a salary. Currently, the legislators are essentially volunteers, although they do get a per diem.

House Joint Resolution 8 would establish a citizen commission on legislative salaries. The commission would make a recommendation for how much New Mexico’s legislators should be paid. The joint resolution also suggests a voter-based mechanism to allow New Mexico’s people to provide checks and balances on the views of the commission.

The bill comes on the heels of a study suggesting that New Mexico’s legislators might be better able to serve the people of the state if they had a salary. For more on the debate surrounding that recent study, check out this KRQE News 13 story.

In case you missed it: Education brings Democrats and Republicans together

Always a hot topic in New Mexico, education sparked some passionate discussion last week. In the Senate Education Committee, Republican Senator Craig Brandt (R-Rio Rancho) pushed a bill to provide parents access to funding in order to send kids to private school.

The bill was tabled in the committee. Not long after, the committee heard another bill aimed at helping kids access private school.

Friday, February 3, the committee considered a bill sponsored by Democratic Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino (D-Abq.). The bill tackled the issue differently from Brandt’s method, but the bill seemed to have the same fundamental goal of giving students have more options of where they can attend school.

Ortiz y Pino’s bill faced tough questioning, but ultimately moved forward. Brandt was among those who voted for Ortiz y Pino’s bill. For the details, check out this KRQE News 13 story.