The 2019 legislative session ends; Democrats cheer, Republicans regroup

Politics - Government

The 2019 legislative session wrapped up on Saturday afternoon. With Democrats in control of both the House and the Senate and at the helm of the state, they finally got their moment after eight years. But the legislation didn’t sail without some resistance from the minority.

Lawmakers worked up until the final seconds of the 60-day session, ultimately sending more than 300 bills to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk, addressing everything from education to gun control, tax changes, and minimum wage.

The first legislative session under the new governor has come to an end.

“I believe that this is gonna go down in the history books as the most productive and successful and monumental session this state has ever seen,” said Speaker of the House Brian Egolf, (D) Santa Fe.

With Democrats leading the legislative and executive branches, coupled with a billion dollar surplus from the oil and gas boom, the energy at the Roundhouse this year was a far cry from just a few years ago.

“Moonshot, done,” said Sen. Peter Wirth, (D) Santa Fe. “Tax reform, done. Minimum wage, done. Film, energy, RPS, done. Ethics commission, done. Water? I’m gonna work with the governor on that one.”

With a Republican governor no longer standing in the way of their agenda, Democrats won the fight for legislation on several topics. But Republicans, with the help of a few key financially-conservative Senate Democrats, had a few victories. They pushed back against increasing personal income taxes and won. A bill to legalize marijuana died in a Senate Committee.

“We’re gonna go back to our communities, we’re going to educate them what happened here and we’re going to unite those people and go forward to the ballot boxes to change New Mexico,” said Rep. James Townsend, (R) Artesia.

A $7 billion budget, one of the state’s highest in history, is earmarking hundreds of millions for education reform and more.

“Overall, the session went pretty good,” said Sen. Stuart Ingle, (R) Portales. “There’s lots of new money, lots of money flowing from capital projects, lots of money going for highway repair which we desperately need in this state.”

As for the governor’s thoughts on the session, she points to education and clean energy initiatives as the biggest triumph.

“This is a celebration,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “This was an incredible, exciting 60-day session.”

The governor is already talking about next year’s 30-day session, saying she hopes to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars into early childhood education next time around.

The governor has to act on the bills on her desk by April 5 or they will be pocket vetoed.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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