Republicans accuse Dems of using constitutional amendments to avoid veto

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – There are several controversial bills being introduced during this 60-day legislative session. Many of those bills come from Democrats, who have regained control of both the House and Senate.

So even if the controversial Democrat-backed bills pass, will they get past Gov. Martinez’s veto pen?

Republicans think the Democrats are using a tactic to go around the governor. It involves introducing constitutional amendments that, if passed by a simple majority vote in both chambers, would go to the hands of voters in the next election.

“Yesterday, the governor talked very much about bipartisanship and working together. It’s unfortunate that the majority is trying to cut her out of her constitutional authority to sign or veto bills,” said Rep. Nate Gentry (R-Bernalillo), Minority House Leader.

In November, voters said ‘yes’ to a constitutional amendment that allows judges to deny bail to violent offenders.

Rep. Gentry defended voting for that amendment, saying it was necessary to modify the constitution in that case. However, he said that Democrats this time around do not need to do that with the ideas they’re introducing, like legalizing marijuana and automatic voter registration.

On Wednesday, Democrats announced the plan to introduce a constitutional amendment to automatically register people to vote when they get their driver’s licenses. However, they were quick to reject the idea of ‘legislating through the constitution.’

“This is about instilling the principle in the constitution, this is not about going around the governor’s veto pen,” said Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Bernalillo.

Sen. Ivey-Soto and his fellow Democrats believe the burden of getting citizens registered to vote should fall on government, not on the individual.NOTE: In the video version of this story, it is incorrectly states that the 2016 legislative session constitutional amendment to deny bail for violent offenders was Republican-backed. Rather, it was sponsored by Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, and Sen. Antonio Maestas, D-Albuquerque.

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