Legislative Update

20 January 2002
Number 02-01
(As of today: 3,455 subscribers)

2002 Session Begins
· Almost No Fireworks
· Legislation Introduced
· Rod Adair for Lieutenant Governor?

Note: Many people have asked if they have been dropped from the list, or if I have stopped sending Legislative Updates or Let's Talk Sense... I have done neither. It is just that I have had very little time even at home over the last several months because of work on redistricting. Please stay in touch. Your feedback is very important to me.

Almost No Fireworks

After much speculation about a possible meltdown on day one of the legislature, the widely expected fireworks on the floor were nothing more than a mild fizzle.

It is true that the new Majority Floor Leader, Manny Aragon made an expected hour-long speech about how the "rules had been violated" in his ousting from the chairmanship of the Senate Rules Committee and other switches made by the Senate's Committees Committee. However, President Pro-tem Richard Romero was more than ready for Aragon.

As soon as Manny had sat down, Romero took to the floor to refute Aragon's charges point by point as 42 copies of several articles dating from 1988 (when Aragon had used precisely the same maneuvers to become President Pro-tem himself) were handed out to each senator. Aragon sat quietly and said no more. It was over. No real fireworks thus far.

The situation is this: Senator Richard Romero, D-Albuquerque, is the President Pro-tem, and has considerable power in determining committee assignments and the day to day operation of the senate. Senator Aragon is the Floor Leader, but the rules have been changed (without rules violations, as made clear by Romero) to strip him of considerable power and options.

The all-important role of determining the daily agenda (what gets to the floor and when and if legislation will be voted on) is controlled by a triumvirate of Romero, Senator Joe Carraro, R- Albuquerque, and Senator Tim Jennings, D-Roswell.

Jennings was the Majority Floor Leader, and a strong Aragon supporter for 23 years, until Aragon ousted him on a 14-10 vote (in the Democrat Caucus) last November. Suddenly Jennings became very, very friendly with Romero. No one in the Roundhouse believes Jennings actually supports Romero's efforts to reform the senate in any way, but rather that it is a case of Jennings' being temporarily steamed at losing his position he had coveted for many years. Observers are unanimous in their belief that Jennings would abandon Romero and go back to supporting Manny the instant Manny allows Jennings to become floor leader again.

Carraro, for his part, is in fact the principal architect of the 21-20 vote which ousted Aragon a year ago and installed Romero as the new President Pro-tem.

Legislation Introduced (Read all bills at: http://legis.state.nm.us)

Senator Rod Adair has introduced the following pieces of legislation:

Senate Bill 60: Amending the Medical Malpractice Act to include "Certified Nurse Practitioner" in the definition of "Health Care Provider"

Senate Bill 63: Providing for Chemical Treatment for Child Sex Offenders

Senate Bill 123: The Civil Commitment Act of 2002. Modeled after a Kansas statute which has been upheld by the US Supreme Court, this bill provides procedures for civil commitment of sex offenders who are about to be released from prison. Having this as law would have saved the life of such victims as Megan Kanka, for whom "Megan's Law" (another statute aimed at preventing child molestation and murder) was named.

Rod Adair for Lieutenant Governor?

Yes, I have been gathering signatures for the office of Lieutenant Governor since October 3.

However, both business pursuits as well as having to appear as an expert witness in two redistricting trials have taken up almost all my time. Therefore I still need signatures in order to be able to have my name placed on the ballot. The deadline is the second week in February.

If you can help by providing your signature, or more than one from your household or from friends, please contact me by e-mail, or by phone at 627-8372. We will send you a petition.