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The 2021 legislative session has been one of the strangest and most hotly-tempered sessions in recent memory and it now appears to be headed into overtime.

Cannabis legalization, the last of the governor’s big priorities, appears to be a victim of too-little, too-late with less than two hours remaining before the mandatory noon adjournment and with no agreement in place.

Governor Lujan Grisham herself has now become involved and personally began meeting with opponents trying to work out a deal before the legislature adjourns at noon today.

Senator Joseph Cervantes (D-Doña Ana), an opponent of legalization, has taken to Twitter to share each time sponsors bring forward new amendments. One version, according to Cervantes, circulated as late as 3:00 pm yesterday. Another made the rounds at 8:12 am this morning.

Those amendments are meant to address changes sought by opponents, including Cervantes, though, with just a few hours left and no agreement in sight, they may be appearing too late.

For his part, Sen Cliff Pirtle (R-Roswell), whose own legalization bill died in Cervantes’ committee, very publicly had a three-foot-high stack of amendments delivered to his desk for all to see. Pirtle is dissuading no one from the notion that he will run out the clock by offering all those amendments, if necessary.

Sen. Cliff Pirtle (R-Roswell)

So will it get a vote? While there is technically enough time to get this bill passed and over the to House for concurrence before noon, time is not the only challenge. The bill has undergone so many last-minute changes it is hard to count votes.

Special session? Governor Lujan Grisham’s office began teasing the idea of a special session — possibly as soon as two weeks from now — to finish the job if legislators don’t pass a bill today. Her spokespersons started making the press rounds yesterday to ensure that message got out.

“There are a lot of priorities left to be heard, and only so many hours left,” spokeswoman Nora Sackett said. “The governor is prepared to call a special session to get cannabis done and done right. It’s important enough and we’re close enough that the governor firmly believes it will be worth an extra effort.”

HB12 remains on the Senate calendar this morning, so anything could happen, but Senators began their day moving through last-minute House bills instead of cannabis.

The House, meanwhile, is using its last few hours debating concurrence on Senate amendments to HB20, the paid sick leave bill. Republicans are trying to run out the clock there as well, but House rules and a Democratic majority give leadership much more leeway to end debate and force a vote.

What did pass? The legislature did, however, pass some big legislation. The biggest may be a Constitutional amendment to use the multi-billion dollar land grant permanent fund for early childhood and public education. That question must be approved by voters first. The governor called it “the big deal” of the session.

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Legislators also passed landmark police accountability reforms, banned trapping on public lands, repealed the state’s antiquated abortion ban, and about a dozen other big deals. Yesterday, the Senate passed the Crown Act, a bill banning discrimination against Black and Native hairstyles. Read them all here.

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The House is still sending legislation to the Senate this morning so there may be more items to add to this list before noon.

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