It was a fiery, late night again last night as Sen. Ivey-Soto and Sen. Stewart squared off on HB 20, the paid sick leave bill. Today, we lay out where all our bills stand and what you can do today to get them passed. We also explain how “concurrence” and “conference” processes work.
As we near the finish line, Roxanne and I would like to thank all of you who have been so active in this session. We will update you later in the day by sending out action alerts to those of you who subscribe to the alert. We have specific actions for you today related to seven bills still in limbo. The House is convening at 10 am, but the Senate schedule is not posted yet. But let’s give them a break — they recessed at 3 am this morning. Expect a VERY long night tonight.
One last day to push, push, push. We can do this!
Entering yesterday, we were tracking eleven bills that were still in play. Four of those passed their final legislative hurdle and are on to the Governor. One bill’s status shifted a bit, as the amended SB 66 passed on House floor and is now in what is called a “conference committee” to try to negotiate a compromise acceptable to both chambers. We cover the back and forth regarding SB 66 below, as it is certainly one of the more fascinating legislative challenges remaining in the session. Most people figure that a bill is introduced in one chamber, moves through committees and its chamber’s floor vote, then that process is replicated in the other chamber. If the bill is not amended, that is exactly how it works. But often, amendments trigger a bit more work to get to the Governor.
How Final Bill Passage Works
If a bill is introduced in one chamber (House or Senate) and passes through its committees and the chamber floor, it is then assigned to the other chamber, where it first goes to one, two, sometimes three committees before it gets to the chamber floor. But it’s not always that straightforward.
- If a bill has not been amended, once it passes both chambers it heads to the Governor and no further action is needed.
- If a bill has passed with amendments in its chamber of origin and then passes through the second chamber without further amendments, the bill heads to the Governor, as both chambers have voted agreement on the same bill.
- If a bill passes through the first chamber and then is amended in the second chamber, either on the floor or in committee, and then passes on the second chamber floor, the bill is then referred to the chamber of origin (where the bill was introduced) and that chamber must approve the amended bill by a motion to “concur” with the amendments from the other chamber. If the amendments are insignificant, concurrence usually occurs without debate. If the chamber votes to concur, the bill has PASSED and goes to the Governor.
- If the amendments are significant, the chamber may elect to vote NO on concurrence and send the bill back to the chamber that had amended the bill.
- The amending chamber then takes a vote to “recede” from their amendments, essentially voting on their willingness to remove their amendments. If the chamber approves the motion to recede from their amendments, then the bill has PASSED and goes to the Governor.
- If the chamber refuses to recede from its amendment, in the Senate a conference committee is formed by the Sen. Pro-Tem (Sen. Mimi Stewart) appointing three Senators, two Democrats and one Republican. In the House, the Speaker makes the appointments. Usually bill sponsors are included in those selections. This committee meets to negotiate a compromise, amending the bill in hopes of getting both chambers to approve of the conference committee-amended bill.
- If no compromise amendment is agreed to in conference committee, the bill is dead.
- If the conference committee emerges with an amended bill, that bill goes to each chamber. If either chamber votes NO, the bill is dead.
- If both chambers pass the conference-committee amended bill, the bill has PASSED and goes to the Governor.
So Where Do We Stand?
We have 27 hours to go as this is being published (9 am). Yesterday was eventful to say the least. We’ve been tracking eleven bills that remain in play, but four of those passed their final legislative hurdle and are on to the Governor’s desk. The status of all eleven bills is summarized below.
Status of Bills in Senate
- HJR 1 Permanent Fund for Early Childhood, The voters decide, Nov. 2022.
- HJR 13, Legislative Session Changes would put a State Constitutional Amendment on the 2022 ballot to extend 30-day sessions to 45 days. Since HJR 13 was not amended in the Senate, concurrence is NOT required. If HJR 13 passes the Senate floor without amendment, no concurrence vote is needed and the voters decide in Nov 2022.
- HB 20 Health Workplaces Act, AKA Paid Sick Leave. Senate Judiciary passed an unfriendly amendment from Sen. Ivey-Soto, which forced the bill to include public sector employees. Senator Stewart called the amendment a poison pill. Late last night on the Senate floor things got nasty between Senator Ivey-Soto and Senator Stewart, with Stewart indicating she was being badgered and Sen. Liz Stefanics agreeing. Sen Stewart finally refused to answer any more questions from Sen. Ivey-Soto. The Senate then reversed Ivey-Soto’s amendments by approving an amendment from Sen. Stewart stripping Ivey-Soto’s amendment from the bill entirely. Ivey-Soto than became the only Senator who refused to vote on the bill which passed along party lines. The bill was sent to the House for Concurrence. Stay tuned!
- HB 163 School Financial Management Classes would make a financial management class a graduation requirement. Given the legislature’s failure to protect New Mexicans from unscrupulous lenders, this is an important bill. Remains on the Senate floor. Concurrence is NOT required as the bill has not been amended.
- HB 291 Tax Changes was stripped of a key element of the original bill: an increase in personal income tax rates on upper income tax payers. But it retains elements that close some corporate loopholes while also expanding and increasing the Working Families Tax Credit and the Low-Income Comprehensive Tax Rebate. All good things. Remains on the Senate floor and would require House Concurrence should it pass the Senate.
The Senate Ask: Please call HJR 13, HB 291 and HB 163 for a vote.
Who to Ask: Senator Floor Leader, Sen. Peter Wirth
- Peter Wirth, firstname.lastname@example.org, 505-397-8855
- Also contact your own Senator with the same message. Get your Senator’s contact info at this link.
Status of Bills in House
- SB 8 Local Government Air Quality Regulations. Sen. Wirth has been pushing this boulder uphill for over a decade and it looks like he’s made it to the top. Passed, on to the Governor.
- SB 15 Redistricting Committee. Another bill altered and weakened in committee, but still supported by Common Cause and Fair Districts New Mexico. If it passes House Floor, it will return to Senate for Concurrence vote. This should get to a final vote.
- SB 32 Wildlife Conservation & Public Safety Act, AKA Roxy’s Law. Bans certain types of animal trapping and poisoning. This bill has also been before the legislature for years. Narrowly passed, 35-34. On to the Governor.
- SB 82 Radioactive Waste Consultation Task Force. The floor hearing will certainly include 3 hours of GOP legislators whining that passing this bill will destroy the economy of southern NM. Remains on House Floor. If it passes, it will go back to the Senate for a Concurrence vote because it was amended in the House.
- HM 33 Rural Opportunity Interim Committee. As HB 16, this bill passed through the House unanimously. But bill sponsor Rep. Roger Montoya was told that what HB 16 proposed could be achieved more easily and with fewer time-consuming hearings by creating a memorial. So that is what he did. Passed. On to the Governor.
- SB 66 Permitted Percentage Rates for Small Loans. Senate refused to accept House changes calling for 99% rates on loans under $1,100 instead of the 36% rate cap on all loans. House refused to recede from their amendments, putting the bill in conference committee, as yet unscheduled. See below for more on this bill.
The House Ask: Please call SB 15 and SB 82 for a vote and please agree to Conference Committee amendments to SB 66.
- Brian Egolf, email@example.com, 505-986-4782
- Also contact your own Rep. with the same message. Get your House Rep contact info at this link.
And Then There is SB 66 Permitted Percentage Rates for Loans
Context / History
SB 66 would create a 36% cap on small loan rates statewide. It moved through the Senate with minor amendments and passed easily in House Commerce and Economic Development. With an 8-4 Democratic advantage in House Judiciary, things looked good. Until they didn’t.
Rep. Alcon introduced an amendment with two elements: raise the rate to 99% and strip the bill of what are called “anti-evasion” protections. Absent these protections, rate caps are meaningless and lenders are able to “evade” those caps by charging hidden and punitive fees. Two generally reliable Democrats, Rep Louis and Rep. Cadena, went along with the amendment, which then passed. For the full story on the hearing of that amended the bill, click here.
On the House Floor, the amendment was stripped entirely (a good thing) but with one change in the bill: a rate of 99% for bills under $1,100 (a bad thing) and a 36% cap on rates above $1,100 (a good thing). This newly amended bill passed the House and went back to the Senate, which refused to “concur” with the amendment. The bill returned to the House who refused to “recede” from their amendments.
Each chamber selected three members and assigned them to a “Conference Committee.” The appointments are very revealing. Senate Pro-Tem Mimi Stewart appointed the strongest possible committee to defend the original bill, with bill sponsors Sen. William Soules and Sen. Katie Duhigg who each have been very skilled at defending the bill throughout the process and especially in House Judiciary. Joining them will be the only Republican in the Senate to vote for the original SB 66. Clearly Senate Democratic leadership is not looking to compromise much on the original bill.
Speaker Egolf, on the other hand, was required to appoint the other bill sponsor, Rep. Susan Herrera. Not unreasonably, he appointed the architect of the House floor substitute bill, Rep. Lundstrom. For the Republican member, Speaker Egolf selected Rep. Rod Montoya, who is not known for flexibility or compromise, and who almost never votes for Democrat-sponsored legislation.
What Needs to be Reconciled
A January 2020 poll from Morning Consult found that 72% of New Mexicans (Democrats, Republicans, and DTS) support a 36% cap. Nationally, of those who oppose a 36% cap, nearly two in three oppose it because they believe 36% is still too high. The two polls offer a clear indication that New Mexicans from both parties want a 36% interest rate cap.
Retake feels that the conference committee should not become a test of wills but rather an honest effort to meet in the middle and find a compromise that can be accepted by both chambers. Failure to do so would be a failure to implement the clear will of the voters.
The table below represents the key differences in the House and Senate version of the bill. The original SB 66 called for all small loans capped by a 36% rate. The House Finance Amendment has been replaced with the House amendment from Rep. Lundstrom, and the Conference Committee now must negotiate a compromise.
|Rate Cap||36%||99% on loans under $1100|
36% on loans above $1,100
|66% on loans under $500|
36% on loans over $500
Retake Our Democracy’s Compromise Recommendation
We need to start by acknowledging that both Senate and House positions must be adjusted. The House has rejected the original Senate bill and the Senate has rejected the House-amended bill. Some movement toward the middle must occur.
It is worth noting that loans under $1,000 represent 62% of all small loans originated, so raising the SB recommended rate from 36% to 99% represents a very steep increase in rates for the vast majority of small loan borrowers.
The Retake compromise would ask the Senate to accept a 66% rate on loans under $500 and a 36% on rates over $500. This represents a concession on the part of the Senate. But in exchange for this concession the level of loan at which this cap is applied is reduced from $1,100 to $500.
We ask that the House agree to a lower rate of 66% on extremely small loans and agree to lowering the loan level that is regulated at 36% from $1,100 to $500.
Certainly, some variation of what Retake is proposing will be considered and likely some variation of the compromise we propose must occur. We think it’s important that both sides recognize that 72% of NM voters support a 36% rate cap on all loans and the loan rate cap issue has been in the legislature repeatedly over the past five years.
Any compromise from a 36% cap on all small loans represents a straying from the voters’ will. Retake feels that it is the responsibility of the legislature to make every effort to implement the will of the people. The term “representative” clearly defines NM state Representatives’ role, to represent the will of the voters. The voters have spoken on this for years, and the Senate version of SB 66 sent to the House represented the voice of the voters. I hope the Representatives in the Conference Committee will consider their purpose, represent the voices of the voters, and agree to and advocate for a reasonable compromise.
What You Can Do
Contact information is provided below for the members of the Conference Committee. Please email them with something like the following and put it in your own words:
I prefer the Senate’s original 36% rate cap on all loans as do the vast majority of New Mexicans. I also appreciated the House floor effort to fix an unfriendly House Committee amendment. To pass SB 66, some movement on both sides is needed. In negotiating, please don’t stray too far from the voters’ will and try to adhere as closely as possible to the original Senate version while still accepting some concessions to the House.
- Rep. Susan Herrera, (505) 986-4249, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, (505) 986-4316, email@example.com
- Rep. Rod Montoya, (505) 986-4757, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Senator Duhigg, (505) 397-8823, email@example.com
- Senator Soules, (505) 397-8850, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Senator Schmedes, (505) 986-4395, email@example.com
That’s it for today. We may send another alert later today as things develop.
In solidarity & hope,
Paul and Roxanne
Categories: Local-State Government & Legislation