Legislative roundup, Jan. 22, 2022

·2 min read

Jan. 22—Days remaining in session: 27

Excess contribution: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's reelection campaign has resolved a complaint over a donation from a Denver-based mineral company that exceeded New Mexico's contribution limits.

New Mexicans for Michelle, the governor's campaign committee, paid a $4,200 excess contribution to the public election fund, the State Ethics Commission announced Friday.

"The candidate committee confirmed [Thursday] that it had sent a check for $4,200 to the State of New Mexico, for deposit into the public election fund," a news release states.

A law firm representing the committee also informed the state the "inadvertent excess contribution" was refunded to Intrepid Potash, which had contributed $25,000 to the governor's campaign. Contributions over a four-year election cycle are capped at $20,800 under state statue.

Tribal infrastructure: The House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee unanimously approved a bill that will provide $89.4 million for tribal communities to use in building educational infrastructure, such as libraries and education centers and broadband access. House Bill 89, sponsored by Rep. Derrick Lente, D-Sandia Pueblo, would dole that money out over a three-year period.

Lente told the committee the bill is a response to the historic Yazzie/Martinez legal case, in which a district judge ruled the state must provide more resources to help at-risk children, including Native Americans, succeed in school.

The bill's fiscal impact report says the new infrastructure can help "Native American students who need additional academic support, particularly those that lack transportation, attend school-based classes or activities. Community-based libraries and educational resource centers could also provide culturally relevant materials that help students learn mainstream academic content and develop knowledge and skills from home cultures and tribal languages."

The bill next goes to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee for consideration.

'Grave concern': The Foundation for Open Government is asking a powerful Senate committee that helps determine whether a bill will see the light of day during the 30-day session to start livestreaming its meetings.

To not do so is "unacceptable and duplicitous," Shannon Kunkel, the foundation's executive director, wrote in a letter Thursday to the Senate Committees' Committee.

"It is of grave concern to FOG that any public body would conduct the public's business surreptitiously, but it is particularly egregious for the Committees' Committee do so given that it is charged with the extremely important task of determining germaneness," she wrote.

Kunkel told the committee it should restart its hearings.

"All actions taken by the Committees' Committee thus far should be officially declared null and void, as they were not taken with appropriate public scrutiny," she wrote.