Roundhouse Rundown: Legislation that has crossed the halfway point
SANTA FE, N.M. — With about two weeks left in the legislative session, there are a handful of bills that have cleared one chamber and moved on to the next. That’s the halfway point for those proposals, as they make their way to the governor’s desk.
Right now, that includes two gun safety initiatives.
WAITING PERIOD FOR FIREARM SALES
House lawmakers narrowly approved a bill Friday implementing a mandatory 7-day waiting period for firearm sales in New Mexico. The bill’s sponsors say it’s meant to be a cooling-off period to allow for federally required background checks to be completed.
The original proposal called for a 14-day waiting period, but lawmakers slashed it in half as a sort of compromise, despite criticism from Republicans. Supporters argued the shorter waiting period would still save lives.
BANNING GUNS FROM POLLING PLACES
The Senate also approved a gun control proposal this week to ban guns at polling places across the state. The bill’s sponsor says they’re already banned at polling places in schools, and his bill extends those restrictions to all polling locations. There are several exceptions included.
REWORKING GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS
Several education initiatives have also crossed the halfway point. Most notably, a proposal to rework New Mexico’s high school graduation requirements.
High school students would still need to earn 24 credits to graduate, but they would have more control over what classes they take. If the proposal is approved, students could also skip Algebra II and individual school districts would get to decide on some required classes.
All students would need to complete personal financial literacy coursework. That bill cleared the House floor with bipartisan support.
ENHANCING TRAINING FOR NEW SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS
A proposal to implement enhancing training requirements for new school board members cleared the Senate floor with bipartisan support.
The Senate also approved a proposed constitutional amendment to establish a state school board that would oversee the Public Education Department instead of a cabinet secretary.
The most important bill to cross the halfway point is the proposed state budget.
House lawmakers approved a $10.1 billion spending plan earlier this week. There are funding increases for almost every state department and also more than a billion dollars going into trust funds and endowments for future years.
Despite leaving the House with bipartisan support, Senate Finance Committee leaders suggested they have some concerns they’re planning to address. The committee is expected to thoroughly review the House budget proposal, make their changes, and send it down to the Senate floor next week. Then, it will be back to the House for final approval.
The budget is the only bill state lawmakers must approve before the session ends on Feb. 15.