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Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has called a special session of the New Mexico Legislature to begin at noon Thursday, June 18, in Santa Fe “to consider tax relief for individuals, loans for small businesses and local governments, police reform and election improvements, among other topics,” the governor’s office said in a June 17 news release. “Lawmakers will be asked to consider those bills in addition to modifying the state budget that takes effect July 1, (which is) the main purpose of the special session.”
“As a result of the global pandemic, projected state revenues declined steeply following the legislative session earlier this year, leaving a gap estimated at more than $2 billion,” the governor’s office said. “The executive budget framework includes cuts to state agency budgets, grants to local governments and sovereign nations and a preservation of a portion of the pay raises that had been scheduled for educators while using the state’s unprecedented reserves and federal funding to patch the budget hole created by the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Among non-budget measures the governor will ask the legislature to take up are proposals requiring police officers to wear body cameras, banning chokehold restraints and making police disciplinary history a matter of public record. The police and public safety reform proposal will be sponsored by state Sen. Joseph Cervantes and state Rep. Micaela Cadena, both D-Doña, the news release said.
The governor will also support a proposal to promote and ensure the security and timeliness of remote voting during a public health emergency, the news release continued. “New Mexico’s election code currently requires voters to request an absentee ballot before one can be issued. The legislature will be asked to consider a proposal to give county clerks the authority to send a ballot to registered voters with a current mailing address and will allow voters and election administrators to track their ballots through the mail delivery system to help ensure timely delivery of their ballots, among other changes.
“Tax relief for small businesses and individuals impacted by the pandemic will also be on the call (as) the governor will ask the legislature to waive penalties and interest for small businesses and individuals who unable to make timely tax payments due to the economic impact of the pandemic.
“Additionally, she will ask the legislature to approve a proposal to direct the state investment officer to invest a portion of the state’s multibillion-dollar Severance Tax Permanent Fund to support loans to small businesses and municipalities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”