- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The Latest on the final day of the New Mexico Legislature (all times local):

2:15 p.m.

State Democratic and GOP lawmakers have traded criticisms over failed crime legislation that Democrats rejected as misguided and GOP leaders argued was needed to crack down on violent crime.

Sen. Michael Sanchez, a Belen Democrat and the Senate Majority floor leader, says his party prioritized public education during the session that ended Thursday, while addressing public safety in a “thoughtful way.” The Senate voted down House proposals he says would have increased mass incarceration costs in the state.

Meanwhile, he’s touting passage of a constitutional amendment for bail reform and legislation that allows sexual assault victims to request a protective order after their attackers’ prison release without a court appearance.

House Republicans - who put forward some two dozen crime bills - criticized Senate Democrats for not passing several high-profile proposals, including an expansion of the three-strikes sentencing law for habitual offenders.

1:30 p.m.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez praised legislative compromises that will allow New Mexico to bring driver’s licenses into compliance with federal REAL ID Act requirements and allow judges to deny bail to some violent defendants.

Martinez told reporters on Thursday that cooperation sets New Mexico’s Legislature apart from the U.S. Congress.

The Republican governor’s is making no mention of possible vetoes beyond possible line-item changes to the state budget for next year. She has through March 8 to sign legislation.

Martinez has expressed disappointment at the defeat of a proposed three-strikes sentencing law, permission for local youth curfews and reforms designed to depoliticize state spending on infrastructure.


12:05 p.m.

The New Mexico Legislature has adjourned after a 30-day legislative session.

The House and Senate wrapped up work on Thursday with major political compromises in place to revise driver’s licenses for immigrants, overhaul the state’s bail bond system and trim spending next year.

The state is confronting plunging state revenues linked to low crude oil prices and surging costs for Medicaid health care, but resisted calls to raise taxes.

A $6.2 billion budget deal in place that shaves overall spending but shifts more money to Medicaid, state prisons, State Police, teachers and child protective services.

Those are nearly the same priorities favored by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.


11:25 a.m.

A last minute attempt to extend New Mexico’s rooftop solar tax credit beyond 2016 has failed.

The state Senate voted down an attempt Thursday to attach the extension to an unrelated bill. Democratic Sen. Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque attempted to revive the stalled measure.

The current state tax credit offsets up to 10 percent of costs for a new solar energy system for homes, farms and small businesses and expires at the end of the year. Credits would have been capped at $5 million a year.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez declined last year to sign an extension approved by the Legislature.


10:50 a.m.

A bill aimed at welcoming and regulating ride-booking companies like Uber and Lyft in New Mexico is headed to the governor’s desk for consideration.

The House signed off Thursday on an amended bill that includes background checks for drivers against criminal and sexual offender databases.

The legal status of the companies has been in limbo in the state since they began offering services in 2014. The companies say the state’s Motor Carrier Act does not apply to them because they do not operate as commercial taxi businesses.

Uber and Lyft use smartphone apps to connect their drivers with people seeking rides.


10:30 a.m.

An effort to shift more money toward public schools from New Mexico’s largest permanent reserve fund has failed to win approval in the Legislature.

The proposed constitutional amendment stalled in the House of Representatives as the legislative session came to a close Thursday.

Democratic Sen. Michael Padilla sponsored the initiative that would have diverted about $110 million a year from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to public and specialty state schools.

Public schools, state universities and other beneficiaries currently receive a 5.5 percent annual distribution from the $14 billion fund. That drops to 5 percent starting in July.

The constitutional amendment proposed to raise the distribution to 5.8 percent. Had it passed, the amendment still would have required voter approval.

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