County lobbyists discuss Legislature

Tony Parra

County lobbyists kept the Roosevelt County Commission up to speed on bills in the New Mexico Legislature and the results on Tuesday.
Roosevelt County lobbyist Mike Miller presented the commission with an update on the priorities for the county in the 2004 state legislation. Miller said the legislation ended on Feb. 19, but that it is not officially over until March 10. By March 10, Gov. Bill Richardson needs to sign off on the bills or they will not pass, but rather be pocket vetoed.
Miller said House Bill 293, which is a capital outlay request of $705,000 for Roosevelt County, still has not been passed.
“As of early this morning, I don’t know the status on it,” Miller said. “The governor has the discretion to pick and choose.”
The capital outlay request is: $290,000 for road equipment, $280,000 for road improvements, $115,000 for fairground improvements and $20,000 for an addition to the extension office.
Miller said Rep. Joe Campos, D-Santa Rosa, pushed for an amendment to the small counties assistance act to include Roosevelt County.
“The only thing it’s waiting for is the governor’s signature,” Miller said. “There has not been one negative vote. The senate finance committee has passed it. The senate floor passed it 38-0 on Sunday. I see no reason in carrying it.”
If passed, the act will provide $125,000 to Roosevelt County. Last year, the county lost out on the money due to a minor stipulation in the bill.
The county commission learned on Tuesday that legislation approved the ability to allow the counties to pass a 1/16 increment for purposes the counties see fit, such as a corrections tax. This bill allows counties to pass a 1/16 gross receipt tax addition without referendum. The bill added an amendment which allows the public to gather a petition for negative referendum within 60 days. Originally the timeframe was 30 days.
Both county lobbyists, Miller and David Sanders, along with county commissioners, said they were pleased with the results.
“I heard a lot of good things about you,” Commissioner Dennis Lopez told Miller. “They (people involved in the legislation process) call you a go-getter. I’d like to thank Mr. Miller and Mr. Sanders for all the work they have done.”

Also at the meeting:

• Officials with the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department requested the commission allow the sheriff to pursue a program for vehicles for the department through the Internet.
The program allows law enforcement officials to rent police vehicles for three years for $1; after three years the vehicle is returned for their money back.
According to the Government Acquisitions, INC. Web site, the program was started due to the budget issues placed on government entities such as law enforcement, hindering them from purchasing vehicles. The program supplements the budget by acquiring funding from local, regional and national companies in exchange for sponsor recognition on government vehicles. It can be compared to advertisements on NASCAR race cars on a smaller scale.
“I stumbled upon it through the Internet,” Bekki Hall of the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department said. “We have vehicles that are in need of repair and we believe it would be worth while to look into it. We could get local sponsors, such as Dairy Farmers of America or the new cheese plant, or we could get national sponsors like Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola.”
Officials with the sheriff’s department asked for permission to proceed in researching the program further and the commission approved it unanimously. The program does not allow for certain sponsors such as alcohol, tobacco, firearms, gaming or any other inappropriate sponsor.

• The commission unanimously voted to name the Roosevelt General Hospital access road Schlenker Avenue, named after J.R. Schlenker who died on Oct. 20. County officials said there is no number or designation for the access road and the first step to designating a name was attaining the commission’s approval.