Editor’s Note: This story is an updated 2023 version of a previously published story
SANTA FE, NM (KRQE) – Tuesday, January 17 marks the start of the 2023 legislative session in New Mexico. Once again, 112 publicly elected lawmakers will gather at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe to make big decisions that will guide the state and likely affect all New Mexicans.
To help you follow this potentially complex process, KRQE News 13 has compiled a set of key terms you need to know. Whether you’re hoping to see the entire session or just want to follow a bill, this will help you make sense of Roundhouse-related news, including KRQE News 13’s “Roundhouse Roundup” series.
New Mexico’s constitutional mandates legislatures meet in Santa Fe for a “regular” legislative session that begins on the third Tuesday of each year. However, not every session lasts the same amount of time.
In odd-numbered years like 2023, they meet for 60 days—or what’s sometimes called a “long session” or “full session.” In even-numbered years, lawmakers meet for 30 days in what is often referred to as a “short session” or “budget meeting.”
During a regular 60-day session, lawmakers can attempt to pass legislation on almost any subject. But during short sessions, like the 2022 session, they are limited to what they can discuss.
Unlike last year, when the governor had a major say in what lawmakers could (and couldn’t) discuss, this year we can expect lawmakers to attempt to pass bills on a variety of issues. The two key factors limiting their options are time and their ability to find support from their peers.
types of legislation
◎ Invoices – Draft laws are proposed laws. They will be introduced by lawmakers who support the proposal. The initial idea for the bill can come from a variety of sources: legislators, lobbyists, or even government agencies.
◎ Resolutions – A resolution is an issue that the legislature wants to discuss, but the issue either cannot become law or the legislature does not want it to become law. There are three types: single, simultaneous, and shared.
A joint resolution is passed by the House and Senate. These can be used to propose amendments to the New Mexico Constitution. They can also be used to authorize actions such as the sale of state property.
A simultaneous resolution is one that affects both the House of Representatives and the Senate, such as: B. the planning of breaks. They can be used to establish chamber rules or perform other legislative tasks.
A simple resolution applies only to the House of Representatives or Senate. They can be used to make a statement, but these are rarely used, according to the New Mexico legislature.
◎ Monuments – A memorial is a formal notice to a state government agency. They can be used to ask government agencies to investigate an issue or address an issue. Memorials are also used to commemorate specific days, events, or places.
what happens every day
The main activities of each day are “Floor Sessions”. The chamber hall is the main stage of the legislative process, where legislators gather to discuss laws and make speeches, ie “to keep the word”. During plenary sessions, lawmakers can also attend committee meetings to debate the merits of their own bills.
Floor sessions occur almost daily and tend to get busier or longer as the session draws to a close. The Legislature will webcast meetings at the level and KRQE News 13 will also broadcast key moments live.
In addition to plenary sessions, legislators also attend committee meetings. There are dozens of committees that debate the merits of the legislation and propose changes. For a bill to become law, it must pass the relevant committees with a “do pass” recommendation.
When a bill passes the appropriate committee or committees, it goes back to the chamber in which it was introduced—either the House or the Senate. That’s where lawmakers will have their final debate before escalating it to the other chamber. So when a bill is introduced in the House of Representatives, it goes to the Senate and vice versa.
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives must approve the law. If changes are made, both the House of Representatives and the Senate must approve those changes. When agreement is not easily reached, lawmakers can set up a conference committee to work out their differences with the goal of passing the legislation.
How does the law become the law?
If a bill makes it through “ground action” as described above, it goes to the governor’s desk for final approval. She can sign the law, veto it, or just do nothing.
When the governor signs the law, it becomes law. But it cannot take effect immediately. Many laws come into force 90 days after the legislature. However, some have emergency clauses that take effect immediately. These emergency clauses are often attached to bills that need to come into force immediately to keep the public safe.
If the governor vetoes it, it’s up to the legislature to decide whether it should become law. If two-thirds of the House and Senate vote to override the governor, the bill becomes law despite the governor’s veto.
If the governor simply does nothing, it is called a “pocket veto”. For bills passed in the last three days of the legislative session, the governor has 20 days to take action. If the governor does nothing, the bill will not go into effect. In this scenario, the legislature cannot vote to override the governor.
How do citizens stay informed?
KRQE News 13 will cover key topics during the 2023 session. Each day we post a roundhouse roundup on the KRQE News 13 website. The Roundup is an easy-to-understand summary of the legislation that lawmakers are working on. When important debates are taking place, we will also be live streaming video from the Roundhouse to give you a glimpse of the legislative process.