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Legislature declares some vetoed bills as law

Chris Ramirez
March 18, 2017 11:46 AM

The New Mexico Legislative Council declared Thursday night that some recently vetoed bills will be enacted into law.  

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The revelation comes after KOB pointed out language to legislators in the NM State Constitution that states the governor is required to return vetoes with "his/her objections." Eight of the governor's vetoes have not included any explanation as to why she disagreed with the bills.

Attorneys working on behalf of the NM Legislature determined that the governor did not meet the constitutional requirement of sending her "objection" therefore, per the New Mexico Constitution, the bills were enacted into law after three days.  

"At the end of the day, these bills are about jobs for New Mexicans," said Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque. "These are bills that would have extended broadband connectivity to rural New Mexico that would have made it easier to attract doctors to the state."

This is the exact language of the NM Constitution:

"If he approves, he shall sign it, and deposit it with the secretary of state; otherwise, he shall return it to the house in which it originated, with his objections, which shall be entered at large upon the journal."

KOB focused in on this language, "with his objections." Does that mean the governor must list why she is issuing a veto? Is a written objection necessary?

"I think it's a very important and very serious question," Candelaria said. "The constitution obviously says that explanations are important."

Martinez wasn't in Santa Fe Thursday, but Chief of Staff Keith Gardner addressed KOB's questions.

"The governor's constitutional requirement was met," he said. "She sent a message down on each one of those bills and said 'using my constitutional authority I have vetoed these.'"

Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Albuquerque sent this message to KOB Thursday night:

"With respect to Senate Bills 6, 67 and 134, I ask that the Journal reflect that Senate Executive Message No. 19 was received by both the secretary of state and the Senate after the expiration of the three-day period provided by Article 4, Section 22 of the constitution of New Mexico for the governor to return bills with her objections in order to effectuate a constitutionally valid veto.  Those bills, therefore, in the opinion of counsel for the legislature, became law without the governor's signature.  Specifically, Senate Bill 6 became law at 11:31 a.m. on March 13; Senate Bill 67 became law at 3:13 p.m. on March 14; and Senate Bill 134 became law at 3:16 p.m. on March 14."

Immediately after, a spokesman for Martinez issued this statement:

"That's ridiculous. The veto messages were sent, received and read within the three-day period without objection. This stunt exposes the arrogance of the good ol' boy system that is the State Senate where they think they can enact laws on their own. The Senate appears determined to shut down the government and that's very disappointing."

Because this has never happened, it's not clear what the next step is. However, the New Mexico Constitution requires that disputes between the executive and legislative branches of government be resolved by the state Supreme Court.

Credits

Chris Ramirez

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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