Monday, March 26, 2007

Kumbaya, Then Good Bye

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

This is the New Mexico Senate, Saturday as they joined hands in prayer lead by Rabbi Leonard Helman. The Rabbi’s invocation was the longest part of the session.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Michael Sanchez called for announcements and Senate Minority Floor Leader Sturat Ingle moved to adjourn. Senate President Pro-Tempore Ben Altamirano called for a voice vote and after the shouting match, declared the nays had carried the day. The Republican side challenged the ruling of the chair, calling for a roll call vote.

Several Senators were not present, on the Republican side: Carroll Leavell, Steve Neville and Bill Sharer. Missing on the Democratic side were: Cisco McSorley, Cynthia Nava, Mary Kay Papen and Jerry Ortiz y Pino.

Democratic Sens. John Arthur Smith, Tim Jennings and Linda Lopez joined the Republicans in voting against the chair’s call.

Sen. Altamirano reads the roll call vote 17-18 overruling his call and ending the session.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

This is Lt. Gov. Diane Denish holding up a miniature gavel that one of the Senate clerks gave her. She is showing her granddaughter, Sadie Rittneberry, age 4, where she usually works. Denish did not sit in the chair, as president of the Senate, but was acting Governor on Saturday. Gov. Bill Richardson was off in California raising money for his presidential campaign.

The legislative drama continues. The regular session ended Sat. March 17 and within minutes, Gov. Richardson called a special session wanting issues that were either killed outright, resurrected or those that were left on the table moved forward.

Sen. Jennings told the press that two votes of the Senate to adjourn should be enough. He was anxious to get back to the real emergency caused by 13 tornados that struck the Eastern side of the state including parts of his home district counties of Chaves, Eddy, Lincoln and Otero, rather than the manufactured emergencies of Gov. Richardson.

Sens. Lopez and Smith also spoke to the press about their votes to adjourn.

Frustration was evident on both sides of the aisle as Phil Griego D – Los Alamos, Mora, Sandoval, San Miguel, Santa Fe and Taos counties, contemplates what happened. Joseph Carraro R - Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, rests. “We’re all still exhausted after the 60-day session,” Carraro said. He was frustrated that the open conference committee bill had not gotten through. He said it was a major part of the ethics reforms package that was missing. He explained that during the regular session he had voted for a campaign contribution limits bill. It then went to a closed conference committee. When it came back, the guts had been torn out of it. He had to change his vote.

If the House does not adjourn, but stays in recess the next three days, then, by the State Constitution, the Senate must reconvene on Thursday.

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