ICYMI: Highlights from Monday in the NM House

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In case you weren’t glued to the nmlegis.gov webcasts or prowling the committee rooms in the Roundhouse yesterday, here are some highlights from the New Mexico House of Representatives for Monday, February 3, 2014:

House Highlights

Monday, February 3, 2014

On the Floor

  • House Bill 31 Affordable Housing Act Violations and Penalties, sponsored by Rep. Roberto “Bobby” Gonzales (D-Taos-42) has passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 61-0.  HB 31 amends the Affordable Housing Act to allow the timely sale of foreclosed or failed affordable housing projects without retaining the long-term affordability restrictions.  HB31 also allows the recovery of Mortgage Finance Authority investments in foreclosed or failed projects.  In addition to allowing the Attorney General to investigate alleged violations of the Act, HB31 provides and enables the AG to pursue civil and/or criminal penalties.  HB 31 now heads to the Senate.
  • House Bill 57 Tax Refunds for Senior Services, sponsored by Rep. Jim Trujillo (D-Santa Fe-45) has passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 62-0.  HB 57 provides for an optional designation for tax refund contributions and is directed to provide the supplemental funding to enhance or expand senior services throughout the state.  The refunds will be paid to the North Central Economic Development District which will disburse the proceeds to various senior services programs. HB 57 now heads to the Senate.

In Committee

  • House Bill 19 Update School Finance At-Risk Index as amended; sponsored by Rep. Luciano “Lucky” Varela (D-Santa Fe-48) received a unanimous Do Pass in the House Education Committee.

HB 19 amends the Public School Finance Act to appropriate $12 million from the General Fund [GF] to the State Equalization Guarantee [SEG] for expenditure in FY15 to provide services to improve educational outcomes for “at-risk” students.  Changes will take place to the funding formula in the 2015-16 school years.  The bill also implements increased reporting requirements for school districts and charter schools on how they use the increased at-risk funding to close the achievement gap and improve student outcomes.

  • House Bill 25 NMSU Water Resources Research Institute, sponsored by Rep. Rodolpho “Rudy” Martinez (D-Doña Ana, Grant, Sierra-39) received a Do Pass in the House Education Sub-Committee.  HB 25 appropriates $2 million from the general fund to NMSU to support the operations of the Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI). The appropriation will support New Mexico faculty in conducting critical water research that will help solve the state’s water problems; 2) train water scientists, technicians, and managers of the future by graduating students primarily in the STEM fields and providing New Mexico a well-educated work force in water-related fields; and 3) coordinate water research and applications as well as data acquisition, synthesis, and delivery to users throughout the state.
  • House Bill 67 Phased Minimum Teacher Salary Increases, sponsored by Rep. Mimi Stewart (D-Bernalillo-21) received a Do Pass in the House Education Committee.  HB 67 amends the Public School Personnel Act to increase the minimum teacher salary for level 1, level 2, and level 3-a and level 3b license holders by two thousand dollars for the next five years until the minimums reach $40 thousand, $50 thousand, and $60 thousand.  HB 67 now goes to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.
  • House Bill 233 Renewable Energy Tax Credit Eligibility, sponsored by Rep. George Dodge Jr. (D-Curry, Debaca, Guad, Roosevelt, San Miguel-63) was approved by a vote of 9-0 in the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  HB 233 increases the amount of electricity produced that is eligible for the Renewable Energy Tax Credit, it extends the date by three years (from 2018 to 2021) in which a generator must first produce electricity to be eligible for the tax credit and it clarifies the period in which a taxpayer may claim the Renewable Energy Tax Credit. HB 233 now goes to the House Tax and Revenue Committee.
  • House Bill 217 Elder and Disabled Court, sponsored by Rep Liz Thomson (D-Bernalillo-24) received  a Do Pass on a 14-2 vote in the House Judiciary Committee. HB 217 makes a two hundred thousand dollar ($200,000) appropriation from the general fund to the Second Judicial District Court in fiscal year of 2015 to establish an elder and disabled court.  As baby boomers retire, there is a need for an elder and disabled court.  HB 217 would allow the Court to monitor and track guardianships and conservators in a more appropriate manner, ultimately ensuring that the best interests of the elderly and disabled are being met.