New Mexico Legislature’s Fixation Has Left No Time to Pass a State Budget

New Mexico legislature

In their headlong desire to push a gun control agenda in Land of Enchantment, New Mexico Democrats have gotten themselves into a legislative mess. But, to explain how they have let gun control get in the way of passing a budget, you need to know how the New Mexico legislature works.

How The Sausage Is Made (Sorry, No Green Chiles)

New Mexico has its own quirks. Among the many ways it’s unusual (aside from having me as a resident) is the way the legislature meets. Unlike most states, New Mexico still holds onto the “citizen legislature” model. In theory, nobody’s supposed to be a professional full-time legislator. That means no one gets paid a salary and sessions are kept short so that people can go back home and work for a living.

Like Texas, New Mexico originally didn’t have a legislative session every year, only meeting on odd years for 60 days. To make sure the state’s budget is handled, the state constitution was amended in 1964 to allow sessions every year, but with only a short half-length session on the even years. This short session is supposed to focus only on the budget and a few emergency items recommended by the governor. Plus, legislators are allowed to take a crack at overriding any vetoes from the previous long session.

Additionally, the governor can call for special sessions as needed to address major issues or emergencies, but those weren’t used very often until recent years.

As special sessions have started to be (ab)used more and more, many people who want New Mexico to have a hyperactive legislature like California’s have been agitating for an end to the citizen legislature model. They want legislators to have a full-time salary, meet all year long, and have no limits on what they can do in even years. They also want bigger legislative staffs to help the legislature become more “productive.”

But until such time as they have both the legislative votes and citizen votes to amend the constitution to allow for a full-time professional legislature, they’re stuck with the current model of 60-day full sessions on odd years and 30-day budget sessions on the even ones.

The 2024 Budget Session

As we’ve discussed here previously, New Mexico’s governor is a full-tilt gun control diva. She tried to ban carrying guns in all of Bernalillo County (which includes Albuquerque) last year with a bogus “public health” order that hit the national news and drew criticism from across the political spectrum.

When courts struck down most of that, the governor switched gears to prepping for the 2024 legislative session. The current shorter 30-day budget session is only supposed to tackle budget-related matters, veto overrides, and a few topics recommended by the governor. In past decades, gun control was almost never a danger in a 30-day session because the legislature has so little time to do anything but pass a budget, and that can be contentious all on its own.

But this year, New Mexico’s Democrat Party decided instead to focus on gun control. Age restrictions, an “assault weapons” ban that would make California blush, and purchase waiting periods (among many others) have been matters that have taken up most of the legislative calendar.

The governor, of course, is very pleased with the progress, but the current session ends tomorrow and legislators have been left with almost no time to address the primary purpose of the session: the state’s budget.

So, in addition to abridging New Mexicans’ rights, the Dems have now put everyone in the position of having to vote for a “we have to pass the bill fo find out what is in it” budget. That will no doubt contains all sorts of extra goodies that they’re hoping legislators won’t have time to comb through and discover.

With more recent talk of having a 60-day anything goes session every year, the immortal words of Gideon J. Tucker comes to mind: “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”

Hopefully New Mexico’s citizens keep this year’s session in mind when they’re eventually asked to give legislators more time. Thirty days was plenty to get the job done if the legislature hadn’t wasted time trying to violate our gun rights.


4 Responses

  1. The fact that so many governments and corporations are more concerned with virtue signalling than budgeting or profiting makes me think the end may actually be nigh. The whole world is acting like everyone and everything is terminal and not looking past next week.

  2. As someone that shoots most of my competitions in New Mexico, I feel really lucky they didn’t get shit done….

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