Thursday, February 26, 2009

Committee Keeps Conference Committees Closed

Looks like the House Appropriations & Finance Committee voted last night to table Rep. Joe Cervantes' bill, HB393, that would open conference committees. I'm not sure what the vote was and who voted how. I'll update this when I do.

Heath is all upset about this:

... even in these times, when the Richardson administration is dogged by pay-to-play allegations, when the former Senate president has admitted to using the legislative process to help steal millions of dollars in taxpayer money, when scandal after scandal after scandal is further jading an already skeptical public, the majority of members of the committee voted to shelve a proposal that would increase transparency and public confidence in the Legislature?

But obviously Heath hasn't considered all the implications of such a mean-spirited bill.

Let's look at the the argument of the senators who yesterday opposed SB141, (which would allow a court to increase the sentence of a public official convicted of a felony and impose a fine up to as much as the official's salary and benefits).

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, voted against the bill, saying it could punish an innocent spouse by taking away their partner's pension. "Why would we want to punish the spouse of the person ... for something their spouse did when they had no knowledge of it?" he said.

Senate Majority Whip Mary Jane Garcia, D-Doña Ana, who also voted against the bill, expressed the same concern as Sanchez and called it "mean-spirited" when it comes to the spouse.

Wouldn't it be punishing the spouses of lawmakers who use the legislative process to steal millions dollars of taxpayer money if the Legislature passed this conference committee bill and inhibited or even cut off this source of income. Maybe the HAFC was only being compassionate.

The vote was 10-4 to table
Voting to table
Rep. Lucky Varela
Rep. Brian Egolf
Rep. Jeanette Wallace
Rep. Rhonda King
Rep. Kiki Saavedra
Rep. Ray Begaye
Rep. Joni Gutierrez
Rep. Patty Lundstrom
Rep. Don Tripp
Rep. Danice Picraux

Voting against tabling
Rep. Kathy McCoy
Rep. Larry Larranaga
Rep. John Heaton
Rep. Richard Berry

Rep. Antonio Lujan
Rep. Richard Vigil
Rep. Nick Salazar
Rep. Don Bratton