For More News and Events Read the Current Newsletter and Subscribe
QUICK INFO: PDA & THE LEGISLATURE
The Legislature has 2 chambers: The House and the Senate
Senators elected for 4 year terms; Representative for 2 years
Membership: 42 in Senate; 70 in House
This year the Republicans have a majority in the House; Democrats currently are in majority in the Senate.
This year the Leg meets for a 30 day session;
On alternate years the session is 60 days long.
The 30 day sessions are limited to budget items, vetoed legislation from 2015, and legislation that the Governor puts on her call. There are three basic types of legislation:
“Bills,” which propose new laws or change existing laws
“Joint Resolutions,” which are like declarations and usually involve an amendment to the NM State Constitution which must eventually be passed by voters in a statewide election.
“Memorials,” which state an intention of the legislature but do not become law.
The Legislative Process: Where PDA Can Act
Prior to and during the session, Senators and Representatives may file legislation that they would like to sponsor for passing into law with the Legislative Council Service. This office approves as is or writes all legislation, advising as to its legal accuracy and putting it into proper format.
PDA leadership tracks the bills, resolutions and memorials filed on the legislative website and puts the ones PDA holds as a priority on a spreadsheet to be updated throughout the session and distributed to the membership.
When the Session begins, legislation is accepted by a committee in the House and in the Senate. In the 30-day session, a bill is either deemed germane or not by the Senate Committee’s Committee and the House Rules Committee. Each one is then assigned to a committee(s) to which it is relevant. For example, a bill in the senate concerning the courts would go to a Judiciary Committee, and a bill in the House concerning voter registration might go to Government, Elections, and Indian Affairs and Regulatory and Public Affairs.
Committee Chairpersons then make an agenda for their committee each day. These agendas are posted on the legislature’s website. The PDA leadership checks the agendas and sends out email “ACTION ALERTS” to those who want to receive them concerning when and where a bill is scheduled to be debated in committee. Participants then email or call the legislators on that committee asking them to support or oppose a certain bill.
If a bill is approved by the committees that debate it in one chamber (House or Senate), it goes to the floor of that chamber to be debated and voted on there. If it passes that chamber, it then goes through the same process in the other chamber. If it passes the process in the second chamber, it is sent to the Governor’s office to be signed or vetoed.
Participants can be emailing or calling legislators all through this process. Legislative offices keep a count of supporters and opposers, and tell us that the Senators and Representatives do take these numbers into consideration.
If bills receive a do not pass in a committee, are tabled or are never put on an agenda (the Chair’s prerogative), they are stalled in the process and are considered a no pass.
Summary by Ann Dunlap