SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Tuesday, January 31, a wide range of bills will be heard in committees at the Roundhouse. In addition to bills tackling crime and focusing on big economic questions, Tuesday brings bills that would give New Mexico an official aroma, create a new special license plate, and help reduce litter statewide.
Close your eyes and imagine the smell of New Mexico. What did you come up with?
Sen. William P. Soules (D-Las Cruces) probably got the smell of chile. Now, he’s sponsoring a bill to make “the aroma of green chile roasting in the fall” the state’s official aroma.
Already, the state has a list of “officials.” There’s the official flower (yucca flower) and the official bird (roadrunner), of course. But did you know we have a state insect, (different than out state butterfly, even tough butterflies are insects), a state reptile, and a state amphibian?
We even have a state aircraft – the hot air balloon, obviously! And if Senate Bill 188 makes it to the books, the state would get an official smell too.
License plates for fallen officers
Another bill on the calendar for debate today is House Bill 141. The bill, sponsored by Representatives Candy Spence Ezzell (R-Roswell) and Greg Nibert (R-Roswell & Ruidoso), would create a new license plate to recognize the family and friends of police officers killed in the line of duty.
It’s not yet clear what such a plate would look like; the bill would need to get approval first. But this isn’t the only special license plate legislators are considering. Senate Bill 142 aims to create a plate recognizing New Mexico miners.
Today, the Senate Conservation Committee is scheduled to consider a bill aimed at preventing littering. Senate Bill 156, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Steinborn (D-Las Cruces), would give the state’s Tourism Department half a million dollars to run an anti-litter campaign.
The state has already had anti-litter campaigns. For example, the Tourism Department has run the “Keep New Mexico True” campaign, according to an analysis by the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC). And the state sponsors local anti-litter projects.
But this would be a big boost in funding. In fiscal year 2022, the Tourism Department spent about $126,000 on the “Keep New Mexico True campaign,” according to the LFC.
In case you missed it: period products and school safety
Yesterday, schools were a big focus during committee debates. In the House Education Committee, students and educators asked legislators for free access to feminine products in public school bathrooms.
A number of students spoke in support of the idea. Ultimately, House Bill 134 was given a “do pass” by the committee, although some speakers said that the products shouldn’t be placed in boys’ bathrooms.
Meanwhile, senators discussed the issue of school safety. The Senate Education Committee debated whether or not they should give $25 million to the Public Education Department to fund school safety improvements.
The bill was tabled for now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean schools won’t see the funds. At issue was whether or not the Public Education Department should be the ones to administer the money.
“I don’t know that we want to move this $25 million out of the Public School Capital Outlay authority and put it in PED – who doesn’t have the capacity to do it. I think the money needs to stay there and be identified there to be used for security for our schools,” Sen. Craig Brandt (R-Rio Rancho) said. For more on the debate, check out this KRQE News 13 story.