Monday, October 19, 2009

Read Bill's Lips, No Tax Increases

And in a rare show of agreement from conservative senators -- many of whom spend a lot of time butting heads with Gov. Bill Richardson -- several "revenue enhancement" bills met their gruesome fate Sunday in that strangely named panel The Committees Committee. All 11 bills that would raise taxes or repeal cuts were voted down, most of them by 7-4 votes.

See my story HERE.

The progressives in the Senate insist that Richardson went too far in his proclamation, specifically prohibiting tax increase or tax-cut repeals. I suspect some of the conservatives might agree that the proclamation infringes on legislative powers. But perhaps they don't want to go to mat for tax-cut repeals, which they don't want anyway.

Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, read a memo in which from Legislative Council Service saying, "an argument can be made that the level of specificity in the proclamation violates the separation of powers by detailing certain subjects that cannot be considered in the special session."

My favorite part of this memo was a 1894 Colorado court decision in a similar battle between lawmakers and a governor.

"Too great a level of detail in the governor's proclamation may act to destroy legislative independence and convert members of the two houses into mere instruments to register and ratify the executive will; that is to do the bidding of the governor, or not act at all."

Some senators are starting to feel like mere instruments.

The special session continues today.