Social Security tax bill revived: A House bill that would repeal the state tax on Social Security benefits is once again alive after members of the House Labor, Veteran and Military Affairs Committee voted 5-4 to revive it.
That committee essentially stalled the bill with a 4-4 vote last week, but Rep. Miguel García, D-Albuquerque, asked committee chairman Eliseo Alcon, D-Milan, to give the bill a second chance since all nine members of the committee were present Tuesday. Alcon agreed — “I’m not that hardheaded,” he said — and the bill is once again in the legislative hopper. Advocates say it’s unfair to tax elderly residents’ limited Social Security income, but opponents have argued the loss would have a big impact on the state without revenue to replace it.
New Mexico is among 13 states that tax some portion of Social Security income. The bill’s fiscal impact report estimates it will cost the state about $118 million in its first year.
Nuclear storage ban advances: Members of the Senate Conservation Committee voted 5-3 to advance a bill to ban the storage or disposal of spent nuclear fuel and/or high-level radioactive waste in New Mexico.
Senate Bill 54, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, also would prohibit the state from issuing or certifying a permit for the construction of disposal facilities for spent nuclear fuel and/or high-level radioactive waste.
The legislative action comes after Holtec International applied for a license to build an interim waste storage site near the Lea-Eddy county line in Southeast New Mexico through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Last summer Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, joined other members of her party in voicing opposition to the plan, saying the site could become a permanent one — a point several people who spoke in opposition of the bill brought up during the hearing.
Halfway there: Today marks the halfway point of this year’s 30-day legislative session. It’s also the last day lawmakers can introduce bills. As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, lawmakers had filed 466 bills, memorials and resolutions. Not all will get a hearing at this point, and many will be lucky to make their way through a committee or two.
Stop taxing cops: Sen. Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque, introduced a bill to exempt all New Mexico law enforcement officers from the state income tax. If the bill becomes law, it would go into effect in 2023. Lawmakers are looking for ways to recruit and retain police officers in a state grappling with a growing crime problem.
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change how this state treats our law enforcement officers before we chase every one of them across state lines,” Moores said in news statement issued Tuesday. “These brave men and women put their life on the line daily to defend our citizens and keep the peace. This bill is a long-term effort to give us a competitive edge in retaining our current officers and recruiting new officers.”
Quote of the day: “Sounded like a baby crying,” — Sen. Bill Soules, D-Albuquerque, after nearly everyone in the Senate Conservation Committee looked his way to pinpoint the source of a shrill squealing noise. It turns out Soules was pivoting about in a squeaky chair. Soules changed seats and the committee went about its business.