GOP House committee refuses to hear Dem-offered amendment; Says only pre-approved bills & amendments are welcome

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It’s a new day in the legislature when Republicans take over.

Last Friday, House Business and Employment Committee Chair Jane Powdrell-Culbert (R-ABQ) stopped ProgressNowNM’s staff from speaking in the committee on a controversial right-to-work bill Republicans are committed to passing.  Days before, the new chairman of the Rules Committee moved to approve a new committee structure that, among other things, eliminated the Voting and Elections Committee before Democrats could speak against it (because who needs a voting committee if you don’t want people voting).

Now the House Education Committee chairwoman, Nora Espinoza (R-Roswell) says only amendments which are submitted and reviewed ahead of time may be presented in her committee.

This happened today:

A bill to retain third-graders who score below par on reading tests cleared the House Education Committee on Tuesday morning in a 7-6 party-line vote.

Republicans favored the bill and Democrats opposed it…

Many others in a committee room that gradually filled to capacity of about 80 countered that mass retention is not effective…

Democratic Rep. Christine Trujillo of Albuquerque tried to offer a substitute bill to emphasize intervention to help students without mandatory retention. The committee chairwoman, Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell, declined to accept Trujillo’s proposal, saying two days’ notice for a bill substitution are required.

Youngblood’s bill moves next to the full 70-member House of Representatives, where Republicans have the votes to advance it to the Senate.

Well, that settles it then.

Espinoza’s new rules causes controversy earlier in the week when she told another Democratic lawmaker she could not offer amendments or change the bill, as is the point of the committee review process.

The New Mexico Political Report interviewed Chair Espinoza and Dem. Whip Sheryl Williams Stapleton (D-ABQ) for both sides of that debate:

in case you are looking for the message from this, here it is:  We are doing our thing and this committee thing is only a show to let you pretend you have a voice.  No other ideas welcome, thank you.

Espinoza previously put people on notice that she is not interested in debate.  Last year, we helped her make national news when she suggested that the state ban books dealing with Mexican history.