Session pace picks up with a week to go

SANTA FE (KRQE) – From the outside, it looks like Santa Fe has become Washington D.C.

With less than a week left in the 30-day session, the budget remains stuck in gridlock and so far, just one bill has made it onto Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk. That bill is the Feed Bill, which funds the legislature itself.

But Thursday, there were signs at the Roundhouse that the pace is picking up, and legislation is starting to move.

Wednesday and Thursday morning, House Minority Leader Don Bratton, R-Hobbs, was incredibly frustrated.

“It’s very disappointing that the focus of this 30-day session is not about doing the people’s business,” Bratton said in a morning interview.

But during a busy floor session, he was singing a slightly different tune.

“We’ve acted on as many bills today as we have in all days prior,” Bratton said.

While the budget stalemate is far from resolved, the House decided to pass a pile of mostly non-controversial legislation.

“We don’t want to be a complete bottleneck to all other legislation,” said Speaker Ken Martinez, D-Grants.

And even though she’s only had one bill to act on, Gov. Martinez is optimistic the session will close strong.

“This is my fourth legislative session. It usually goes very slow in the beginning and then it really ramps up at the very end,” Gov. Martinez said.

Even so, a stuck budget bill has both sides pointing fingers.

“It’s difficult when one side says this is the way it’s got to be or else,” said Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen. “So far, the governor has mandated something to the House that they can’t agree with.”

“Obviously the majority party is about power, not about serving the best needs of the state of New Mexico,” Bratton said.

But neither side’s given up on a deal yet either.

“It’s a hopeful optimism but grounded in knowing that we have to do a lot of good work and people have to be willing to compromise,” Speaker Martinez said.

If a deal isn’t done before next Thursday at noon, lawmakers would have to return to Santa Fe for a costly special session.

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