Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How to Kill a Bill

The Democrat members of the Voters and Elections Committee had a good time at the RoundHouse today, Thursday, March 10.

Democrat Representative Chairman Mary Helen Garcia did not lead her committee in all the festivities. She kept good order during the first two hearings; so, the deliberations of House Speaker Democrat Representative Ben Lujan, Sr. and fellow Democrat Representatives James Roger Madalena, W. Ken Martinez, Danice R Picraux, Debbie A Rodella and Edward C Sandoval proceeded---at a noticeably snail pace.

But toward the end of the hearings of SJR 11/d things started to get a little out of hand. The relieved atmosphere among the Democrat Representatives became nearly palatable as they unabashedly expressed their delight at the end of the hearings. Laughing and smiling, their chatter becoming a little louder, one almost expected them to burst into song.

They had good reason to celebrate. After all, they are not necessarily engaged in representing the wishes of New Mexicans. Something else evidently moves them.

Take a look at the set up. The Voters & Elections Committee is comprised of seven Democrats and six Republicans. Thus, the Democrats will always dominate if they vote along party lines. The agenda clearly was stacked against hearing a particular bill---HB577 (Voter Photo ID). HB535 was heard first, followed by HJR 12/d, SJR 11/a HB517 and last, HB577. The committee was supposed to start at 8:30 AM. It was called to order a little after 9:00 AM.

Discussion of the first three bills was delayed by long pauses, as Representative W. Ken Martinez meditated upon "unforeseen consequences," and Representative Rodello declared she was confused, and during the hearing of SJR 11/a ("Transfer of State Owned Property") the sponsor, his expert witness and a clerk were actually allowed in situ to engage in editing of text which was repeated three times. Some jolly exchanges regarding abbreviations and commas also took place.

Clearly someone was dragging the lower appendages. But why?

All will soon be clear. The first discussion---of HB535 was serious and polite as Republican Representative Jane Powdrell-Culbert introduced her bill to "Create a Bond Selection Day." Representative Powdrell-Culbert was joined by Secretary of State Dianna Duran and Bobbi, Director of Elelctions. Although it was obvious to observers that the discussion was stuck in low gear, both Secretary Duran and Representative Powdrell-Culbert remained alert, attentive and immediately responsive to the committee's questions. After about 45 minutes of discussion, Chairman Garcia declared that the committee "seemed in favor of HB535," but because four changes were required, the bill would be "rolled over" to March 15 to be discussed again then.

There followed discussions of HJR 12/d ("Recall of Certain Public Officials") and SJR 11/a ("Transfer of State Owned Property"). It was 11:30 AM when Chairman Garcia called for a hearing of HB517 (Financial Disclosures of Legislators). The bill's sponsor, Republican Representative Cathrynn N. Brown, apologized that her expert witness was absent. She therefore requested that HB577 be heard next.

"No, it's late," said Chairmen Garcia, "It would be better to hear it on Tuesday. You'll be first. I promise you." "Could we discuss it on Saturday or Sunday?" asked Representative Brown. "Not possible," quickly said Democrat Representative Ken Martinez "Tuesday is best."

Tuesday is March 15. The end of the 2011 General Session is March 19. If HB 577 wins a Do Pass, it won't get to the House Floor until Thursday March 17. It would then still have to pass the Senate. Postponing of the hearing on HB577 to Tuesday March 15 is a virtual killing of Voter Photo ID, which Republicans have requested perhaps 4 or 5 times in response to 83% of New Mexicans wanting this protection at the polls.

Committee members Republican Representatives Thomas Anderson, Nate Gentry, Conrad James, Bill Rehm, James A Smith and Shirley Tyler said next to nothing during these hearings. It is obvious why. They did not want to contribute to prolonging the hearings. It was clear to most observers that the Democrat majority of the committee had deliberately wasted time in order to avoid a hearing of HB577. As one observer remarked, "They were nit-picking and dic-dic-dic-ing all over the place."

This, in the face of some New Mexicans having traveled over 3 hours to take part in their government. Is it any wonder that many New Mexicans are taking a second look at the veracity and trustworthiness of Democrats? Is it any wonder at the growth of the Independent segment of our voting population?

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