By David Arkin
A highly controversial ban approved last year will again be on the agenda for this year’s session, all because the governor signed the wrong version of the bill last year. Two local lawmakers said they will not support it.
Last year, lawmakers approved a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation as part of the state’s Human Rights Act.
However, as a result of the governor’s mistake, companies with fewer than 15 employees didn’t have to follow any of the state’s Human Rights Act, The Associated Press reported.
The AP said lawmakers intended for the under-15 exemption to apply only to the sexual orientation provisions they added to the legislation.
Just like last year, debate is expected to surround the issue.
“I did not support that legislation,” Rep. Anna Crook, R-Clovis, said from her office in Santa Fe. “And I won’t support the legislation this year.”
Crook voted against the bill last year, and the Roosevelt County Commission adopted a resolution opposing the bill.
“I don’t think anyone should be discriminated against,” Crook said. “But I don’t think they are discriminated against. This bill would be giving special rights, not equal rights.”
Rep. Earlene Roberts, R-Lovington whose district includes Roosevelt County, said she was also against the move.
“Let’s leave it the way that it is,” she said. “We do not need it in our laws. People are protected under human rights. These people (homosexuals) are not easily distinguished. They are not any different than anyone else, except that they have made a choice in their lifestyle that is different than others.”
Crook said “it was a very emotional thing” for those who were involved in the legislation after they learned that the bill had to go through the legislative channels again.
Crook said the legislation does affect peoples’ businesses.
Here is a look at capital outlay projects he submitted for Eastern New Mexico University:
l Purchase a bus for ENMU student-athletes, coaches and staff. ($95,000)
l Purchase and install instructional communications equipment, including information technology, a public address system and editing bays. ($145,000)
l Purchase and install portable bleachers for the soccer and track programs. ($50,000)
l Purchase and install bleachers for the Lewis Cooper Arena. ($43,000)
l Purchase and install graphic arts technology and equipment. ($69,400)
l Upgrade, purchase and install technology and related infrastructure to deliver coursework to students in outlying areas for both ENMU campuses in Roosevelt and Chaves counties. ($151,000)
Budget Adjustment Request – also referred to as BAR. This is when state agencies and higher education institutions can request changes to approved budgets under certain conditions. The proposed BAR must be approved by the state budget division of the department of finance and administration. The legislative finance committee has authority to review a BAR, but has no authority when it comes to the approval of the BAR.
Source: Legislative Council Service, Legislative Education Study Committee, Legislative Finance Committee
Happening today in the House of Representatives
l 9 a.m. – New Mexico Finance Authority committee hearing. The Economic Development and Regulatory, boards of public safety, justice and advice and general control subcommittees will also meet.
l 10 a.m. – Computer systems subcommittee
No Senate committee hearings are set for today.