The Latest: Governor wants to revive marijuana proposals

March 16, 2019
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New Mexico Sen. John Sapien, D-Bernalillo, left, meets with Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf on the House floor on Friday, March 15, 2019 in Santa Fe, N.M. The Democratic-controlled New Mexico Legislature ended Saturday, March 16, 2019, after passing bills to increase education spending and create an independent ethics commission. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on activity at the New Mexico Legislature (all times local):

1:30 p.m.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wants marijuana legalization back on agenda for the next legislative session.

Lujan Grisham said Saturday that next year’s limited 30-day legislative session will include marijuana reform proposals. This year’s session ended Saturday at noon.

The first-term Democrat complimented sponsors of a failed bipartisan bill this year that would have legalized marijuana sales at state-operated stores and subsidized medical cannabis for poor patients. The House-approved bill stalled without a Senate vote.

Lujan Grisham says legalization is possible with sufficient precautions to prevent child use and impaired driving.

In New Mexico, the governor decides what major policy issues are heard during abbreviated legislative sessions in even-numbered years.


1:15 p.m.

New Mexico House Republicans say the Democratic-controlled state Legislature has “overreached” on gun control, taxes and spending and they expect voters to respond.

GOP House Minority Leader Rep. James Townsend told reporters after the session ended Saturday that Democrats pushed through measures that didn’t represent the values on New Mexico and put the state in a dangerous financial position.

Republican House Minority Whip Rep. Rod Montoya says Democrats were tone deaf on bills like gun control and needlessly raised taxes while the state had a surplus. He says the tax bill passed by the Senate and House eventually will amount to $380 million annually in three years.

Montoya says this was the year Santa Fe imposed its will on the rest of New Mexico.



A bill that would raise taxes and offer a larger family tax credit has been approved by the New Mexico Legislature.

The Democrat-led House and Senate approved the tax bill Saturday in the final minutes of the annual legislative session.

The initiative would raise income tax rates on high income earners unless the state experiences a new surge in other sources of income. An increased tax credit for families with children would offset a tax hike on those households as a result of 2017 federal reforms.

Taxes would increase on auto, cigarette and internet sales. The bill now moves to the governor for consideration.


11:00 a.m.

A panel of House and Senate lawmakers has reached a compromise on legislation that would increase a tax credit to working families with children and raise taxes on auto, cigarette and internet sales.

A conference committee of six lawmakers from the House and Senate voted 5-1 Friday for a tax bill that also would increase state capital gains taxes on investment income and might raise personal income tax rates for top earners. The income tax increase would not take place if state income rises significantly.

Lawmakers are trying to find new sources of state government income to trim the state’s heavy reliance on revenues from oil and natural gas.

Progressive Democrats have insisted the changes shift the tax burden toward the higher earners. House Republicans have opposed any increase.


9:15 a.m.

The New Mexico Legislature has passed a measure that would prohibit corrections officers from placing juvenile and pregnant inmates in restricted housing, or solitary confinement.

The Senate late Friday voted 36-1 to send the bill to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham after advocates for years have tried to limit solitary confinement for some inmates.

Under the proposal, inmates with serious mental disabilities could not be kept in solitary confinement for more than 48 hours.

Lujan Grisham has not said if she would sign the proposal.


8:15 a.m.

The New Mexico Legislature has voted to decrease penalties for marijuana possession.

Both the House and Senate passed late Friday a measure that would reduce penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. More ambitious reform proposals to allow recreational marijuana sales in New Mexico failed the pass.

The bill from Sen. Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces reduces penalties for possession of up to half an ounce of marijuana to a $50 fine on first offense.

The proposal now heads to Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.


1 a.m.

The Legislature has passed a bill to establish an independent state ethics commission for complaints about the conduct of public officials.

A final Senate vote on Friday capped weeks of public hearings and backroom negotiations and sends the bill to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for consideration.

The creation of the seven-member commission was authorized by statewide vote in November 2018. That came in the wake of a series of high-profile public corruption scandals.

Detailed workings of the commission were left up to the Legislature and governor.

The bill limits the commission’s subpoena powers to requests authorized by a specially appointed judge. Complaint wouldn’t be made public until 30 days after a probable-cause finding to allow time for a settlement. Criminal violations may be referred to state and local prosecutors.

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