Updated: November 16, 2020 06:31 PM
Created: November 16, 2020 05:40 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – State lawmakers are moving forward with plans to possible hold part of the upcoming 60-day legislative session at the Santa Fe Convention Center.
On Monday, lawmakers voted to advance negotiations to rent the Santa Fe Convention Center from the city for $250,000. The plan is to hold committee meetings at the convention center so there would be more room for the public to participate in person.
“A lot is changing on the vaccine front, on the therapeutics front, on all sorts of levels, and so keeping options open makes sense,” said House Speaker Brian Egolf. “ There's no reason to deprive ourselves of the convention center as an option.”
For now, the option is on the table. Lawmakers will be able to receive a refund if they’re forced to pull out due to COVID safety reasons.
Another option would be to start the session on time to take care of important things like the budget, then come back at a later time for a special session or an extraordinary session.
“We need to remain flexible. We need to allow leadership to be able to pivot as we proceed,” said Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-District 15). “It may make sense for us to meet in person or hybrid. We may be required to meet virtual within constitutional constraints. It may make sense for us to get a little bit of work done and come back later, and the fact of the matter is we're not going to have all that information until we get closer to the time."
Some Republican lawmakers were against the idea of a virtual session, saying unreliable internet access and cell phone service in rural parts of the state would make it hard for the public to participate.
"Mr. Speaker, I think you need to rethink what we are doing to the rural New Mexico's voice and I just have some big problems with this,” said Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell (R-District 58).
As it stands, it looks like the pandemic will determine the final form the legislative session ends up taking.
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