Feb. 13, 2009 Legislative tidbits

Days remaining in session: 36

Measuring state workers: A measure by freshman Sen. Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque, would measure the productivity of state government employees.

An analysis of Senate Bill 158 says labor productivity is defined as “the output per worker-hour of labor.”

Further, the bill says “labor productivity would be calculated using Bureau of Labor Statistics methodology. Each local government would be required to submit data on local government worker productivity through the department’s Web site beginning in 2011.”

The Senate Public Affairs Committee on Thursday recommended Rue submit the proposal as a memorial calling for a state study instead of a bill. Rue said he would submit such a memorial, Senate Republican spokeswoman Diane Kinderwater said.

Be kind to animals: The New Mexico House passed two bills Thursday aimed at curbing animal cruelty.

One measure increases the penalties for those who cause death or great bodily harm to animals by mistreating or abandoning them. It also makes clear animal cruelty includes leaving an animal confined in a vehicle if the animal is injured or dies.

That bill passed 61-6.

The other bill prohibits the use of gas chambers to euthanize animals. That would affect shelters in four communities in the state — Clovis, Jal, Tucumcari and Lovington. Others already use lethal injection.

That bill passed 62-3.

Both measures now go to the Senate.

Look before you vote: Through the years, some legislators — and people who watch the Legislature — have complained that big-ticket bills hit the floor of the House and Senate for a vote before most people — including most legislators — get a chance to absorb what’s actually in the bill. SB142, sponsored by Sen. Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque, would slow things down.

The bill would require a 72-hour wait after a committee report on an appropriation or revenue bill before a floor vote. That, Rue says, would give the public as well as the Legislature time to review it.

The bill also would require a 24-hour notice of an amendment to such bills and 48-hour notices of proposed substitute bills.

The Senate Public Affairs Committee on Thursday gave the bill a do-pass recommendation and sent it to the Senate Rules Committee.

Teen pregnancies: The Senate Public Affairs Committee on Thursday approved two teenage pregnancy-related measures sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Mary Jane Garcia, D-Dona Ana.

SB416 would appropriate $80,000 to the Children, Youth and Families Department “to support a neighborhood-based initiative in Dona Ana County to reduce adolescent sexual risk-taking by helping adults, parents and community leaders develop effective communication skills.” SB419 appropriates $30,000 to CYFD to support Dona Ana County programs that work with young fathers.

Oil and gas: The House Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted Thursday to move forward a bill that would strengthen the authority of counties and municipalities to regulate oil and gas development. HB471 bill formalizes actions that have already been taken by the cities and counties around the state, including Santa Fe County, which recently spent a year writing new oil and gas rules.

Looking Ahead: You want ethics? The Senate Rules Committee has more than 10 bills related to ethics, campaign finance, lobbyists and government disclosure on its agenda today. Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, has said he expects the committee to combine several of the proposals into one massive ethics bill. The meeting starts at 8 a.m. in Room 321.

• A measure (HB214) that would appropriate $500,000 for the Ben Lujan Leadership and Public Policy Institute at Highlands University will be considered this afternoon by a House Education subcommittee. The panel meets in Room 324 of the Capitol at 2 p.m. Rep. Richard Vigil, D-Ribera, is carrying the bill.

• A measure by Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, that would allow counties to create solar energy districts and help homeowners pay back solar energy system loans through property taxes, is scheduled for today before the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee at 8:30 a.m. in Room 315.

Staff and wire reports