The following is an overview of house bills sponsored by Roberto "Bobby" J. Gonzales (D-Taos) in the 2019 New Mexico legislative session.
HB 5: Education funding - Gonzales is one of six lawmakers sponsoring this bill that raises teacher salaries over four years and changes the school-funding formula. The bill passed the House Education Committee and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee on Wednesday (Feb. 27).
HB 73: Exempt New Mexico from Daylight Savings Time - The bill would let the state opt out of Daylight Savings Time, like Arizona. The bill passed two House committees, and was approved by the House by a three-vote margin Feb. 19. It was sent to the Senate, though the Senate has passed a competing bill that would keep New Mexico on Daylight Savings time all year long. Regardless of how those future-looking bills play out, Daylight Savings Time starts March 10.
HB 75: Low-income Home Emergency Repairs - Gonzales' legislation would take $2 million out of the general fund for low-income people to make emergency home repairs, such as those needed due to a disaster, and for people with disabilities. The State Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee gave it a do-pass recommendation in late January, and it is now scheduled for the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.
HB 78: Commercial Motor Vehicle Inspection - This act would expand the scope of law enforcement duties when it comes to inspecting commercial vehicles under the Motor Vehicle Code. The relatively minor change to state statute was passed by the House 65 to 0. It's currently waiting to be heard by the Senate Public Affairs Committee.
HB 82: Home Rehab for Certain Veterans - Like HB 75, this legislation would put $2 million toward home repairs, except this would be for honorably discharged veterans of the military. It was given a do-pass recommendation by the House Labor, Veterans' and Military Affairs Committee and is now before the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.
HB 251: Higher Education Coordinating Council - By far one of the most popular of Gonzales' legislation this session, HB 251 would create a "coordinating council" for the Higher Education Department, replacing the advisory board. Rather than letting the department secretary (Taos' own Kate O'Neill) choose members, this act would designate specifically who would serve (secretaries of state departments and CEOs of different types of post-secondary schools). It passed two House committees, and the full House 67-0. It is before the Senate.
HB 295: Health Security Act - Sponsored by nine other legislators, this bill "proposes to create a program that ensures health care coverage to virtually all New Mexicans," according to a fiscal impact report. The highly complex bill got two do-pass recommendations from House committees, and is currently before the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.
HB 366: Wildlife Protection and Public Safety Act - This bill would outlaw trapping, snaring or poisoning wildlife on public lands, exempting authorized hunting, scientific research and other instances. Some version of the bill has passed two committees and is scheduled to go before the full House.
HB 449: 5-year Literacy Initiative - This would put about $4 million toward the Northeast Regional Education Cooperative in Las Vegas, New Mexico, to boost literacy for both kids and adults. It was co-sponsored by Susan K. Herrera, also a Taos County legislator. It's received a do-pass recommendation and is now waiting to be heard by the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.
HB 505: Regional Housing Authority Changes - This would clean up the Regional Housing Law, specifically reducing the number of positions on each regional housing authority board (the Taos-area authority has a representative from more than a dozen counties, for example). It's gotten one thumbs-up, and is now before the House Local Government, Land Grants and Cultural Affairs Committee.
HB 517: Acequia and Community Ditch Fund - This would establish an "Acequia and Community Ditch Infrastructure Fund," to be administered by the Interstate Stream Commission. Matching funds and loans outlined in the bill would be par for the course for the financial help currently available to acequias. It got a do-pass recommendation from the Local Government, Land Grants and Cultural Affairs Committee and is currently before the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.
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