SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – After a 60-day session with extended debates on state funds, wildfires, gun safety, and abortion, it’s now past the deadline for New Mexico’s Governor to sign bills into law. And while Michelle Lujan Grisham did sign more than 200, others didn’t meet her approval and received a veto.
Vetoes and pocket vetoes
After a bill makes it through New Mexico’s House and Senate, it goes to the Governor’s desk. Then, the Governor can sign the bill into law, veto the bill, or simply do nothing.
If the Governor simply does nothing with the bill, it’s called a ‘pocket veto.’ When that happens, it’s the end of the road for that would-be law.
If the Governor chooses to officially veto a bill, then it may not be the end of the road. A vetoed (but not pocket vetoed) bill can be turned into law if two-thirds of the state’s legislators vote to override the Governor’s veto.
This year, lawmakers sent more than 250 bills to the Governor’s desk. Her deadline to act on those was Friday, April 7. And she chose to veto and pocket veto quite a few. Here are some of the key one.
Education bills vetoed
- House Bill 126 would have lowered the minimum number of credits needed to graduate from high school in New Mexico. In vetoing this bill, the Governor noted that “we must do everything in our power to provide our students with the tools they need to succeed” and invited lawmakers to work with the Governor’s administration to “find ways to strengthen out educational system and support the diverse needs of New Mexico students and families.
- House Bill 125 would have created a task force to study the state’s dual credit system. Lujan Grisham noted that the state already has a Dual Credit Council that could do similar work.
- House Bill 216 would have expanded the Legislative Education Study Committee’s ability to study educational issues in New Mexico. In her veto message, Lujan Grisham said that the bill would have been an “inefficient use of government resources,” as other government departments already study education.
- House Bill 375 would have required charter school authorizers (such as school boards) to provide an oversight and expenditure plan for the portion of funds the authorizer withholds from the school. The Governor pocket vetoed this bill.
Criminal justice bills vetoed
- Senate Bill 84 would have set guidelines for how parolees should be punished if they violate various aspects of their parole. In her veto message, the Governor noted that the bill “failed to get the support of the district attorneys and other stakeholders.” The Governor also said the bill “could be a step backwards” in terms of probation and parole reform.
- Senate Bill 2 would have raised salaries for judges in New Mexico. In her veto message, Lujan Grisham noted that “we need to raise judicial salaries” but also said that basing salaries on similar metrics to how federal judges are paid “could prove problematic at a later date.”
- Senate Bill 187 would have removed certain instances of drug possession and DUI as a qualifying ‘prior felony convictions’ to enhance sentences. In other words, previous non-distribution possession convictions couldn’t be used to enhance a later sentence as before. In her veto message, the Governor noted that the bill would have taken away a “tool” prosecutors use to “encourage” individuals to get treatment for drug habits.
- Senate Bill 426 would have created a ‘civil rights division’ within the state’s Office of the Attorney General. In effect, it would have allowed the state’s highest attorney to investigate civil rights violations, which usually fall to private investigations and lawsuits. The Governor pocket vetoed this bill.
- House Bill 286 would have set a maximum legal darkness for vehicle tint. Tint would have to allow at least 70% of light to pass through. The bill was pocket vetoed by the Governor.
Environment-related bills vetoed
- House Bill 363 would have created a special Smokey Bear license plate, proceeds from which would go towards fire prevention. In her veto message, Lujan Grisham said that a misunderstanding lead to the idea going up in smoke.
- Senate Bill 464 would have promoted agritourism in New Mexico. In her veto message, the Governor said agritourism could benefit the state, but the bill is an “unfunded mandate that is extremely difficult to implement without additional funding and personnel,” she added.
- House Bill 365 would have created a “Center for Excellence” at New Mexico Tech dedicated to developing geothermal resources. The Governor pocket vetoed this bill.
- Senate Bill 182 would have focused on reducing litter in the state. The Governor pocket vetoed this bill.
Healthcare bills vetoed
- Senate Bill 203 would require the state’s Department of Health to collect annual data on pay and staffing levels for workers and contractors providing services to individuals with disabilities. The bill could add additional oversight to the state’s Developmental Disability care system, which has recently been under fire for allegations of abuse. The Governor pocket vetoed this bill.
- Senate Bill 117 would have allowed more psychologists to prescribe medications for patients. The Governor pocket vetoed this bill.
- House Bill 417 would have created the “Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementia Advisory Council” to help make policies to improve care in New Mexico. The Governor pocket vetoed this bill.
- House Bill 345 would have set aside cash to be used for firefighter recruitment in New Mexico. The Governor pocket vetoed this bill.
- House Bill 184 would have changed the process for appointing people to the State Game Commission, which sets rules for hunting and fishing. The Governor pocket vetoed this bill.
- Senate Bill 94 would have transferred responsibilities for the state’s Rio Grande Trail project to the state’s Economic Development Department. Supporters noted that this could have helped spur progress on the effort to get a recreational trail along the length of the Rio Grande. The Governor pocket vetoed this bill.
- Senate Bill 136 would have set salaries for the Public Regulation Commission (which regulates utilities in the state) at approximately $190,000 or the same salary as district court judges, whichever is higher. The Governor pocket vetoed this bill.
- House Bill 233 would have reorganized the state’s Regulation and Licensing Department. In her veto message, the Governor says she supported the original idea, but not an amendment that was added on later to make the head of the department a cabinet-level position.