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House Highlights Monday, February 25, 2013

On the Floor
●     House Bill 157 (Allow Persons 17 & Over To Vote in Primaries), sponsored by Rep Jeff Steinborn (D-Doña Ana-34) has passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 44-24.  HB 157 would allow persons who are seventeen (17) years of age AND who will be eighteen (18) by the general election day to vote in the primary election and to participate in a major political party’s alternative selection procedure for its national convention delegates. New Mexicans who fit this description currently have the right to register to vote in the general election. HB 157 would enable them to participate in the nominating process leading up to the election.
●     House Labor and Human Resources Committee Substitute for House Bill 216 (Fair Pay for Women Act), sponsored by Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe-47), sailed through the House by a vote of 64-0.  The committee substitute provides clear guidelines and remedies for wage disparity in New Mexico.  It also allows the employer to assert an affirmative defense of good faith and reasonable grounds for believing the act or omission did not violate the Fair Pay For Women Act to avoid treble damages.  HB 216 CSa now goes to the Senate.
●     House Bill 242 as amended (PRC Jurisdiction Over NM RETA Projects), sponsored by Rep. Bill McCamley (D-Doña Ana-33), cleared the House by a vote of 35-31. HB 242 amends RETA, the Renewable Energy Transmission Authority Act to include a statement of purpose and focus, it creates a RETA Development Fund, and it clarifies the use of eminent domain. HB 242aa sets a goal and allows RETA to designate corridors for transmission and would move RETA toward self-sufficiency.
●     House Bill 343 (Health Group Benefits for Nonprofits), sponsored by Rep. George Dodge Jr. has passed the House by a vote of 66-0.  HB 343 would amend the Group Benefits Act to allow certain non-profit entities participation on the State Employees Group Benefit Plan under the current guidelines set forth for Local Public Bodies.  Coverage options would include life, vision, health, dental and disability.  HB 343 goes to the Senate.
●     House Bill 345 CSa (Random Capital Outlay Audits), sponsored by Rep. Carl Trujillo (D-Santa Fe-46) was approved in the House by a vote of 39-30.  HB 345CSa establishes a new independent audit program to be performed by the State Auditor to confirm that expenditures on capital outlay projects conform to state standards and the terms of the contract(s). Projects to be audited will be selected using a risk-based approach.
In Committee
●     House Memorial 45 (Align Education with Available Employment), sponsored by Rep. Bill McCamley  (D-Doña Ana-33) got a Do Pass in the House Education Committe this morning by a vote of 7-4.  HM 45 requests the Economic Development Department, the Workforce Solutions Department, the Public Education Department (PED), the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of New Mexico (BBER), and the Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University (NMSU) to coordinate efforts to align the education and training provided to New Mexico students to the types of employment available in the state. HM 45 now goes to the floor of the House for consideration.
●     House Bill 456 (School Truancy Identification & Penalties), sponsored by Rep. Mary Helen Garcia (D-Doña Ana-34), was heard in the House Education Committee (HEC) Saturday morning. HB 456 requires not only early identification, but notification and an immediate intervention system for students with unexcused absences and withdrawal risk factors.  The bill also amends part of the Motor Vehicle Code to provide specific criteria for suspending or postponing the instructional permit, driver’s license or provisional license when certified and referred by the Public Education Department (PED) that a student is a habitual truant or in violation of the Compulsory School Attendance Law.   HB 456 passed HEC by a vote of 11-0 and now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.

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