Lawmakers head home after 3-day session
Posted September 14, 2011
Updated September 15, 2011
State lawmakers are on their way out of town after a 3-day special session in which they made a handful of fixes to earlier legislation and approved a controversial constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage and civil unions.
The session was expected to yield three constitutional amendments, but the marriage amendment was the only one approved. An amendment to limit the terms members can serve as Speaker and Pro Tem is still in negotiations after the House and Senate couldn’t agree on the number of terms.
The third amendment would have made changes to the State Board of Education. The House already approved the measure, but the Senate did not take it up. “We didn’t find a real appetite for it,” said Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca. It's unlikely to reappear in the November session.
Legislators approved three measures making changes in bills they passed earlier this summer. One fix, made at the governor’s request, restores some of state revenue officials’ power to go after multi-state corporations who move money out of the state to avoid paying taxes here.
Another makes changes to new teen driving laws pushing back the date driving logs will be required from October 1, 2011 to Jan 1, 2012. DMV officials (and parents) had complained the 2011 date didn’t give them enough time to make the necessary changes.
The “Defense of Marriage” Amendment moved faster than any constitutional amendment in recent memory. The final vote on it came just 24 hours and 3 minutes after the current proposal was made available to the public (and most lawmakers).
No public comment, for or against, was allowed. Republican leaders said voters will have the opportunity to comment on it at the polls in the May 2012 primary – an election that’s likely to draw many GOP voters to select a presidential candidate. At present, Democrats have no high-profile primaries in May.
When they come back November 7th, legislators could take up a long list of issues, from election laws and gambling to disaster relief and the management of mental health care providers. Redistricting changes and veto overrides could also be on the calendar, along with any bills currently in conference committee, which includes the constitutional amendment on term limits for legislative leaders.
There’s one wide-open provision in the adjournment resolution that’s a wild card for November: they can take up any of the 52 local bills pending in House Rules, where those bills can be stripped of their current content and used as vehicles for other legislation.