- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed proposals Wednesday that would have diluted executive-branch powers over water funding and horse-racing regulation.

The governor rejected a measure passed by the Legislature that would have overhauled the membership of the Water Trust Board, which recommends financing for water projects.

The proposal would have stripped the governor of power to appoint public members of the board and assigned that responsibility to the Legislature.

Martinez objected that the measure also could have prevented the board from funding some previously approved projects. The bill, she said, would have reduced the number of water projects that the board could fund this spring.

Another vetoed bill would have changed the appeal process for disciplinary actions for horse-racing violations such as administering performance-enhancing drugs to horses. The proposal would have taken away the State Racing Commission’s power to make those decisions and instead required the governor-appointed regulatory board to appoint a hearing officer to independently resolve those cases.

Martinez said in her veto message that the legislation “gives too much power and less accountability to one hearing officer.” The new appeals process also could add to delays in disciplinary cases, she said.

The veto of another piece of legislation will eliminate a fee that provides about $530,000 for the operations of magistrate courts. The $4 fee is part of misdemeanor penalties, and lawmakers established it four years ago to temporarily help pay for the courts when the state had budget problems. The fee was scheduled to end May 31, but the proposed legislation would have extended it to 2019.

New Mexico’s finances have improved and magistrate courts should be funded through the state’s main budget account, as happened historically, Martinez said.

“I see no reason to continue imposing this four-dollar fee on New Mexicans when we can support operational costs for the magistrate courts using available general funds,” Martinez said.

Also vetoed by Martinez were proposals that would have:

-Provided additional money for the Administrative Office of Courts to pay for leasing magistrate court facilities. The measure would have diverted part of the money that goes to the state Traffic Safety Bureau for programs against drunken driving. Currently, the bureau gets surplus money in a fund that repays Metropolitan Court bonds. The legislation proposed to split the money between the bureau and the court administrative agency, potentially about $600,000 for each next year but less in the future. The governor said her veto will allow the New Mexico Finance Authority to continue determining how much to keep as a reserve in the bond fund.

-Established a procedure for dealing with school bus-route disagreements among school districts with a large Native American population. Districts would have been required to consult with tribal leaders. Martinez said the measure wasn’t necessary because the disputes can be resolved through Public Education Department regulations that apply to all school districts. There has been a disagreement between two districts in northwestern New Mexico over the busing of students on the Navajo Nation.

-Stop the state from requiring some Medicaid-eligible Native Americans to obtain health services through managed-care organizations. Currently, Indians needing nursing-home care and those who qualify for Medicare and Medicaid obtain their health services through managed care. Other Indians have an option of Medicaid managed care or a fee-for-service system. The governor “pocket vetoed” the proposal by not acting on it. When the state recently overhauled Medicaid, tribal leaders said a managed-care requirement would limit access to medical providers for Indians in rural areas of the state.


Follow Barry Massey on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bmasseyAP

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide