Governor Martinez threw a fit last week and vetoed the entire legislative branch of government, higher education for every New Mexican student and job training seeker and revenues designed to protect classroom spending, Medicaid and public safety.
Now legislators have had enough so they are fighting back.Leaders of the legislature, Speaker Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) and Sen. Maj. Leader Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe), announced yesterday that the Legislative Council Service had been instructed by leaders to initiate legal action to challenge the governor’s vetoes in 3 key areas.
Read more: Legislators to sue Martinez over vetoes | NM Political Report
Veto of co-equal branch of government to be challenged
Can a governor just veto all funding for the legislative branch? Legislators say no and they’ve instructed their staff to use what little funding they have left in their current budget to hire a lawyer and sue the governor to find out.
After the legislature attempted to override her veto of a bill to allow teachers to use sick leave (more on that below), Martinez left more than 200 bills on her desk without action and took off for a trip to Texas and Tennessee. Legislators demanded she get back to work to sign the bills, but she returned and vetoed the legislature (and lots of those bills, too) instead.
Read More: “Reckless” Gov leaves state while leaving 200 bills unsigned, threatening economy and education | ProgressNowNM
Read More: Gov vetoes emergency funding for NM courts, but spent $200k remodeling her office | ProgressNowNM
Read More: Senate votes to override Martinez veto on teacher absences bill | NM Political Report
Read More: Governor Martinez vetoes minimum wage hikes (again) | ProgressNowNM
Legislators to challenge veto of college, university, job training programs
Under Gov. Martinez and Lt. Gov. Sanchez, New Mexico is now first in unemployment, poverty and children born into Medicaid. But they had no problem vetoing the funding for every college and university in the state just to spite the legislature.
Thousands of New Mexicans expressed outrage and contacted their local legislators urging them to override the governor’s vetoes in an extraordinary session.
Now, legislators appear be to taking one step closer to doing just that. In addition to announcing their intent to sue the governor over her budget vetoes, legislative leaders began collecting the required signatures of three-fifths of legislators to call their own extraordinary session to fix the governor’s budget mess.
That’s important because the governor normally calls a special session and that process allows her to set the rules and dictate what the legislature can and cannot consider.
If legislators initiate the process, they can set their own rules and consider anything they want, even if the governor doesn’t approve.
Did governor’s careless veto of hemp, others, accidentally make New Mexico the next hemp state?
After Governor Martinez vetoed the “Teachers are humans, too” bill allowing teachers to take earned sick leave on the job, a Republican State Senator led a successful veto override vote in the Senate and challenged the House to do the same. It was the first successful veto override attempt in either chamber since Martinez has been governor and it showed that some Republicans were done being bullied by Martinez.
In return, she vetoed dozens of bills with no explanation, including a bill to allow hemp research.
Read more: Unexplained vetoes rile lawmakers | NM Political Report
But Martinez failed to issue veto statements required by the Constitution with those vetoes and that caused legislators to question whether that meant that the bills passed instead.
During a question and answer session at the Progressive Democrats of America – Central NM Chapter meeting earlier this week, State Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D-ABQ) told attendees “the governor may have accidentally created our first hemp program with her veto.”
— Pat Davis (@PatDavisNM) April 13, 2017
Ortiz y Pino explained the Senate’s frustration with Martinez to the Political Report:
Ortiz y Pino, who is also a member of the Senate Rules Committee, said Martinez first became frustrated when the Rules Committee, she felt, was not confirming her appointments fast enough. Things got worse, Ortiz y Pino said, when the Senate voted, almost unanimously, to override a veto.
“It’s pretty clearly, ‘I’ll tech you guys a lesson,’” Ortiz y Pino said.