Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Day 2 Legislature 2012: What now?

Sen. Michael Sanchez drops by the
Capitol newsroom  yesterday
After the regular hoopla of opening day -- which basically was flattened yesterday  by Speaker Ben Lujan's announcement that he's been suffering from lung cancer -- things are expected to slow way down for the next few days as bills are introduced and printed, committees are organized, etc. If it's like every other regular sessions I've covered in the last 11 years, there will be no floor sessions whatsoever on Friday.

That gives me a little time to catch up on a few things. Before the Lujan announcement, I had intended to blog about Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez's chat with reporters in the Capitol newsroom a couple of hours before the session started.

Sanchez said a few interesting things. First of all he predicted the same result for Gov. Susana Martinez's bill to repeal the law allowing undocumented residents to be issued driver's licenses. In other words, he said, it'll pass the House but be thwarted in the Senate.

I asked him what he thought about Sen. Steve Fischmann's Guest Worker Act (Senate Bill 14), which would establish guest-worker permits for immigrants and allow those with such permits to get driver's permits.

Sanchez seemed positive about the bill, saying it's an interesting concept that deserves serious discussion in the session. His one reservation was the fact that implementing such a program, as Fischmann has acknowledged, would require waivers from the federal government. And there's no guarantee the feds would go along.

(I wrote about that bill in an article published a few days ago. It's HERE.)

Sanchez, who never has been a favorite of the governor's (come to think of it, he wasn't a favorite of the previous governor also), was skeptical of Martinez's recent statements that she intended to communicate better with lawmakers. He said there's been no hint of that so far.

"I think she's lost my phone number," he said.

Hey, tell all your pals to join in the lunchtime live blog at the New Mexican at noon today. Any legislators or other officials reading this also are very welcome to join in. It's at