Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Garcia: We Had the Votes, But Not the Time

Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque, who sponsored the bill to require background checks for people purchasing firearms at gun shows says he is confident House Bill 77 would have passed the Senate -- and thus cleared the Legislature -- if there had been more time.

As it turned out the bill died on the Senate floor in the last hour of the session.

Here's what Garcia said in a postmortem he emailed last night.

Time permitting, could the Senate have passed HB 77 in our 2013 Session?  Simply put, Yes!  Some of you who were present for the Senate floor debate on HB 77 recall that there was one voice vote to table one of the sophomoric amendments (19 still waiting) put on by Democrat George Munoz of Gallup.  The president of the Senate, Lt. Governor John Sanchez, stated that the “I’s” prevailed and the first amendment was tabled.  

Immediately, a Republican—not sure if it was Sen. Neville or Sen. Sharer—“challenged the ruling of the chair” (the Lt Governor).  It went to a roll call vote.  All 42 senators were present and voted.  If a majority of Senators had voted yes “for” challenging the ruling of the chair, the 1st amendment would have been adopted.  If a majority of senators had voted no “for” challenging the ruling of the chair, the vote to table the amendment would have prevailed.  By a roll call vote of 22 to 20, the Senate voted NOT to challenge the ruling of the chair, thus preserving the affirmation to table the 1st amendment. 

It is my candid perspective that had the Senate tabled all of the frivolous 20 amendments by the same margin, 22 to 20, and had HB 77 gone to a final vote, it would not surprise me that the outcome would have been 22 to 20 for its passage

Garcia, in his email,  praised Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez::

We were inspired by the closing statement of Sen. Sánchez who stated, as the clock inched towards 11:59 am, that HB 77 was a crucial legislative initiative that merited real debate by the Senate, and not the political theatrical antics of a few legislators bent on denying the people of New Mexico a sound and sensible gun violence prevention policy. 

Sen. Sánchez further concluded that HB 77 will see the light of day on the Senate Floor in the 2014 Session and also stressed the need that Governor Martínez message the legislation next year complimenting its heroic accomplishment from a good original bill to a bipartisan and bicameral compromise measure that the overwhelming majority of New Mexicans relish.