Tensions run high at State Capitol as certain legislation takes precedence

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Tensions ran high in a Roundhouse committee meeting when the priority of certain legislation came into question as the end of the session nears.

The incident, which happened in the Senate Rules Committee Monday morning, began when Rep. Linda Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, was presenting House Joint Memorial 10.

HJM10 calls on Congress to ensure that when election re-districting occurs, it does not favor one political party over another.

In response to the presentation, several senators got animated, including Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque.

Sen. Ivey-Soto said, “I’ll vote for this, because we vote for a number of things that do nothing. This is just one more.”

Many in the room laughed.

“This, in a way, is really worse than doing nothing, because it makes us feel like we’re doing something on a really important issue,” he said.

Sen. Ivey-Soto became so demonstrably upset because HJM10 is a memorial that doesn’t actually compel Congress to do anything. It’s more like a request to pay attention to what New Mexico thinks on the issue of re-districting.

Yet, a bipartisan constitutional amendment, House Joint Resolution 4, would tackle the issue of re-districting in our state. HJR4 is stuck in the House Local Government, Elections, Land Grants & Cultural Affairs Committee and can’t seem to get a hearing scheduled.

Sen. Ivey-Soto is a co-sponsor on that resolution. So is Sen. Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque, who also happens to be a member of the Senate Rules Committee.

Sen. Moores also chimed in with passion.

So let’s not be hypocritical and say, ‘Washington, let’s do this,’ when we have the power to do this. So, I’d like you to take that back to the Speaker [of the House] and chair [Rep. Miguel Garcia] that if they voted for this, they have the power to do this themselves instead of passing this on to Washington,” Sen. Moore said.

Rep. Garcia is the chair of the House Local Government, Elections, Land Grants & Cultural Affairs Committee.

Even Sen. Jacob Candelaria, who has no stake in the issue of HJR4, commented on the apparent problem of priority.

“It does strike me as sort of quizzical why we want to pass a non-binding memorial when we have the tools and the ability to solve this problem in New Mexico,” he said. “It’s not on you, Representative [Trujillo], at all, you’re not controlling that whole process. It just strikes me as interesting.”

When it comes to most memorials — like HJM10 — they’re merely symbolic and don’t have any power to force anyone to do anything. Take, for example, the memorial that calls on Congress to review the decision of the FCC to repeal net neutrality.

Most other memorials dedicate a day at the legislature to a cause or someone. One memorial congratulated Sen. Howie Morales for being inducted into the New Mexico High School Baseball Coach Hall of Fame.

Some memorials do, however, call for a study to be conducted on various issue.

The numbers are staggering. At this point, 135 memorials have passed the legislature while only 11 bills and zero constitutional amendments have passed.

The session ends at noon on Thursday.

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