Inside the Capitol

Sunday, May 22, 2011

5-25 Legislative Leaders to Challenge Vetoes

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- As predicted a few weeks ago, the Legislature is getting serious about court challenges to some of Gov. Susana Martinez's vetoes.
Leaders of both political parties agree that some of the governor's vetoes have to be tested in court. Senate Republican Leader Stuart Ingle is especially bothered by Martinez changing a $150,000 appropriation to $50,000 by striking the "1."
If the governor is allowed to make this one change this year, she can rewrite the entire budget next year. This is part of the continual tug of war between the governor and Legislature, regardless of which party is in power.
The Legislature as a whole can't take the governor to court but individual lawmakers can. We should be seeing that soon, not only in this instance but others such as line item vetoes in bills that don't involve appropriations
Martinez already has been taken to the Supreme Court twice this year and lost both times. This won't be the end of it. And if she loses in court, she has another crack at the Legislature during the September special session on redistricting.
Martinez already has said she is going to take another shot at stopping driver's licenses for illegal aliens. She isn't going to give up on that issue.
Public schools say they need more money in order for budget cuts to not affect classrooms. Sponsors of bills that didn't get considered by the regular session because of filibusters would like another shot. That includes some anti-corruption legislation that the governor would like to see.
Lawmakers prefer the special session to concentrate solely on protecting their districts. The idea is to shed the precincts they have lost and pick up precincts they might be able to win. At worst, they would like no change in their districts.
But population fluctuations make changes inevitable. And sometimes that means either losing your entire district or being thrown into a district with another incumbent.
Members of the U.S. House and state Public Regulation Commission also are wandering the Capitol's hallways trying to protect or improve their districts. Congressional Districts 1 and 3 grew more than the state's average growth and District 2 grew less than the average.
A Democratic Legislature will redraw all the boundaries and then Republican Susana Martinez can veto what she dislikes. That happened under Republican Gov. Gary Johnson and ended with the court deciding to change boundaries as little as possible.
Democrat Bruce King was governor during the three previous redistrictings. To the consternation of Democrats, he told those Legislatures even before they got started to "keep it between the fence posts."
Speaking of former Gov. Gary Johnson, he promises not to be outworked in his fight for the GOP presidential nomination. Gov. Bill Richardson promised the same thing four years ago and was gone soon after the primary season started.
At least Richardson got in on the major debates. It doesn't appear Gary Johnson will. He is working New Hampshire especially hard in the hope that his brand of libertarianism will appeal to GOP voters there.
But there just aren't enough Republicans anywhere who believe in ending the war on drugs and the other wars around the world that we've gotten ourselves into.
Willie Nelson liked those ideas for long enough to give Johnson his endorsement. But after a few days he started hearing about some of Johnson's other beliefs and withdrew.
It was embarrassing for both. Willie said afterwards that the more he got involved in politics, the more he realized he is a guitar player.
Another disappointment for Johnson is Rep. Ron Paul's decision to get back into the GOP race this year. Johnson had hoped to be the next Ron Paul but Rep. Paul, from south Texas, is meeting with much more acceptance this year. Maybe Johnson has to wait another cycle as Paul did.

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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