- Associated Press - Thursday, February 4, 2016

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Lawmakers introduced a flurry of bills as the doors swung shut on new legislation at New Mexico’s state capitol on Wednesday.

The last-minute bills touched on topics from medical marijuana to county gasoline taxes. One Senate bill would cut state aid to local governments in an attempt to boost plunging state revenues linked to low crude oil prices.

Most of the more than 650 bills and at least 40 proposed constitutional amendments introduced since the start of the session on Jan. 19 are doomed to failure. About 1 in 9 bills made it into law during New Mexico’s last abbreviated budgetary session in 2014. The 30-day sessions are held in even-numbered years.

Some legislators in Santa Fe said those long odds are a good thing and show that burdensome proposals are discarded or refined as they are repeatedly submitted over the years.

“If we impose a new law on the people, it should not be something that is cavalier and it should not be something that is done easily, ” said Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque.

If inspiration strikes after Wednesday’s bill filing deadline, there are still options for lawmakers.

Scores of blank “dummy” bills were introduced Wednesday and handed out to party and committee leaders. They may be filled out later, in part to ensure legislative compromises can be written at the last minute.

Bills designed to increase state revenues face especially long odds, with Republican Gov. Susana Martinez vowing to veto any bill that increases taxes. That could doom a proposed tax on e-cigarettes.

Because of tight revenues, legislative leaders may be reluctant to open the door to a long list of proposed tax credits that might reduce state revenues. Those proposals include an extension of the rooftop solar tax credit and a $5,000 credit for businesses that demonstrate pay equality among male and female employees.

Many more bills, both ambitious and small, will be caught in the ideological crossfire between a Republican-controlled House and the Democratic Senate.

Democratic Sen. Bill Soules this week introduced a proposed constitutional amendment to raise New Mexico’s hourly minimum wage - locked at $7.50 since 2009 - and link it to inflation. Republicans Rep. Jason Harper and Sen. Mark Moores have proposed reducing higher minimum wages mandated by the City of Santa Fe and other local jurisdictions. Neither measure is likely to become law.

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