Feb. 4, 2009 Legislature Tidbits

The Santa Fe New Mexican

Sen. Sanchez meets the press: Senate Majority Leader Michael
Sanchez, D-Belen, on Wednesday unexpectedly dropped in the Capitol
Media Room to give an impromptu, informal press conference.

Sanchez said he believes there’s a very good chance that serious
ethics legislation will pass the Legislature this year. The mounting
number of investigations into alleged government misconduct, he said,
have “hit too close to home.”

The majority leader also said he believes the bill to abolish the
death penalty (House Bill 285) has its best chance ever. But he quickly
added, “I thought the same thing about domestic partnerships.” He
admitted the death penalty bill could run into trouble — again — in the
Senate Judiciary Committee, which yesterday failed to pass the domestic
partnership bill (Senate Bill 12).

Another bill Sanchez predicted will pass is the effort to open
conference committees (HB393) — even though Sanchez himself opposes
that move. He said opening conference committees would encourage
members to get together away from the Capitol to decide on the bills
that go to conference. In past years conference committee bills have
passed the House but died in the Senate, usually in very close votes.

Conference-committee meetings are called when the House and Senate
pass similar versions of the same legislation and must work to hammer
out the differences. The budget bill always ends up in conference
committee.


Adios DOMA

Although the Senate Judiciary this week declined to pass SB12 to
establish domestic partnerships in New Mexico, it doesn’t look like the
Legislature will pass legislation favored by opponents of domestic
partnerships.

The House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee on Tuesday against two versions of the Defense of Marriage Act.

The panel voted 5-2 to table HB118, sponsored by Rep. Nora Espinoza,
R-Roswell, which would define marriage between one man and one woman in
state law books. The vote followed party lines, with Democrats in favor
of tabling and Republicans opposed. Tabling almost always means the
bill is dead.

By an identical vote, the committee tabled House Joint Resolution 2,
sponsored by Rep. Gloria Vaughn, R-Alamogordo, which would have sought
to define marriage between one man and one woman in the state
constitution. Had the resolution cleared both the House and Senate it
would have gone to voters for approval in 2010.