Slim chance of legislative ballot questions heading to voters

Politics - Government

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – It looks like state lawmakers will be putting fewer issues on the November ballot than we’ve seen in recent years. Lawmakers file joint resolutions so that the voters can decide on important issues, but none of them have passed so far this session.

“So these are issues that are described in the Constitution,” said Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto (D- Albuquerque). “So the only way to change what the structure is, is to change the Constitution on these specific issues.”

Sen. Ivey-Soto is sponsoring a couple of joint resolutions: to change the legislative sessions to 45 days and another on pay for state lawmakers and state elected officials.

Some joint resolutions are political strategies because they don’t need the Governor’s okay to get on the ballot. That’s why we saw so many of them from the Democrats when Susana Martinez was the Governor, to avoid her veto power.

This year, Republican Sen. Cliff Pirtle is trying that approach, pushing for a ballot question that would allow the voters to override controversial laws passed in the Roundhouse, like the ‘Red Flag’ gun law.

“So basically over the years, the urban districts have dominated over the rural areas so this just gives a voice back to the rural communities to basically protect their values and make sure we don’t have a few municipalities dominating the entire state,” said Sen. Pirtle (R- Roswell).

Over the previous decade, KRQE News 13 found that there were about 35 joint resolutions pitched each year. This year, there were 22. A lot of that can be chalked up to the Democrats no longer needing a strategy to bypass the Governor.

There is talk that the next year Democrats will try to get the issue of marijuana legalization on the ballot, to let the voters decide. A regular bill to legalize pot stalled in the Roundhouse this session.

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