The 2018 Legislative Session
As the second week of the 2018 Legislative Session winds down, we are just 21 days away from “Sine Die.” It was a busy week for NMF&LB in Santa Fe this week. We hosted AgFest as well as our Legislative Breakfast. Both events saw great attendance from not only Legislators and their staff, but also from our membership. For those of you who made the journey to celebrate with us, thank you. For those of you that could not, we hope you’ll join us next year!
The House and Senate reconvene in their respective chambers today at 10:30am (H) and 11:00am (S) in what will likely be the last floor session until after the weekend. As of today, there are a total of 559 pieces of legislation introduced. NMF&LB is monitoring 56 pieces of legislation and we have already begun work on more than a dozen bills. In a 30 Day (or special) Session, all legislation must be deemed germane by House Rules and Order of Business and Senate Committees’ Committee in order to be referred to committee for a hearing. There are still several pieces of legislation that must go before these two committees. January 31st is the deadline to introduce new legislation. The House Appropriations and Finance Committee are expected to meet over the weekend as they continue to work on the budget. Yesterday Governor Martinez signed HB1: Feed Bill. This bill funds the legislative session as well as other year-round legislative staff. In signing the bill, the governor also line-item vetoed one particular committee’s funding; all of it. Here is the story from the Santa Fe New Mexican.
It’s safe to say that at the end of week two, this 30 Day Legislative Session is officially underway!
HB161: Agriculture & Vegetable Seed Preemption sponsored by Rep. Bill Rehm & Rep. Jimmy Hall prohibits political subdivisions from adopting or continuing in effect any ordinance, rule, regulation or statute regulating agricultural or vegetable seeds, including cultivation, harvesting, sale, testing, transporting, possessing and 15 other uses. This law maintains private property rights. NMF&LB believes it should be the right of the farmer to decide what crops make sense for their business and the tools (tools approved by the federal and state governments) to use to cultivate those crops. NMF&LB supports this bill.
HB163: Unimproved Land Property Tax Valuation sponsored by Rep. Nate Gentry, Rep. Bobby Gonzales, Sen. Peter Wirth and Sen. Steve Neville creates a new conservation schedule. For property taxation purposes, unimproved land used primarily to conserve the land under a qualified conservation management plan shall be valued at five percent of its current and correct value. Eligibility for this method of valuation is limited to unimproved land (1) valued in the previous year as agricultural land but which is no longer eligible for that status and (2) is either greater than 10 acres or, if less, has water rights for agricultural purposes. NMF&LB opposes this bill.
This bill has been deemed germane and has been assigned to House Local Government, Elections, Land Grants & Cultural Affairs Committee. It has not been scheduled for a hearing yet. Be on the lookout for ALERTS and CALLS TO ACTION regarding this legislation.
HB214: Pecan Buyers Licensure Act sponsored by Rep. Yvette Herrell, Rep. Bill Gomez and Rep. Jim Townsend creates the Pecan Buyers Licensure Act which directs the New Mexico Department of Agriculture to establish an in-shell pecan licensing and inspection program directed at buyers of in-shell pecans; adopt rules to implement this Act; collect a reasonable annual licensure fee, established in rule, not to exceed $500. Adds to Larceny in the Criminal Code to specify the penalty for larceny of a specific weight and value of in-shell pecans (from 25lbs up to $500 in value). NMF&LB supports this bill.
SJM5: Wild Horse & Burro Management sponsored by Sen. Pat Woods requests that the U.S. Department of the Interior follow the federal Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, and utilize all management tools provided in the act, including unrestricted sale and humane euthanasia of excess animals, to achieve ecologically sustainable wild horse and burro populations. NMF&LB supports this joint memorial.
While NMF&LB did not have a position on legislation (funding) to address the Carlsbad Brine Well issue, we did talk with legislators about the importance of finding some solutions to address what is seen by many as an inevitable collapse of the brine well. If the brine well were to collapse, it would have a devastating impact on the Carlsbad Irrigation District and the agriculture producers in the district; cutting off water resources to most if not all producers in the area. Several bills to address the issue were all killed in committee yesterday leaving some uncertainty for citizens living in the area. Here is a story from KUNM on the proceedings from yesterday.
Many of the key issues NMF&LB will be working on this session have finally been introduced and are beginning to be read out to committees. PLEASE be sure to keep an eye out for “Member ALERTS” and “CALLS TO ACTION” as we begin trying to pass or kill these pieces of legislation in the coming days.