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Editorial: Time for the Legislature to beat the clock

March 16, 2019

The end is in sight.

After a mad 60-day dash ? which at this point feels more like a marathon ? New Mexico lawmakers are scheduled to close the book on this year’s legislative session at noon today.

Let’s hope they make it across the finish line without asking for more time.

It’s not like our state senators and representatives haven’t been working hard this year.

On the contrary, lawmakers have accomplished a fair bit in the past two months after hitting the ground running with the ambitious so-called “rocket docket” ? a packet of legislation based on bills that were vetoed last year despite easily passing both legislative chambers.

Outside the rocket docket, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has already signed Senate Bill 22 into law, creating the Early Childhood Education and Care Department. Lawmakers also managed to pass a bold energy transition bill that puts New Mexico on the path to a carbon-free electric grid by 2045.

On a vote that occurred in the wee hours Friday morning, a hard-won compromise on minimum wage legislation made it to the governor’s desk after conference committee members were able to hammer out details. It was the true art of negotiation as both sides gave a little.

The session hasn’t been without its speed bumps; some bills (like dueling proposals for setting up an ethics commission) took longer than they should have to be heard in committee.

And, of course, many never made it out of committee. For some bills that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

A House bill that would have legalized recreational marijuana came to a standstill this week in the Senate Finance Committee; it looks like lawmakers will have at least another year to hash out a weed plan.

While other important legislation appears set to come down to the wire today, we urge lawmakers to continue their willingness to negotiate and to not let political wrangling keep them from finishing the job.

Lawmakers in past years haven’t always been able to avoid going into overtime. Special sessions of varying lengths have been called in six of the past 10 years.

Those sessions haven’t been cheap. Past estimates have put the cost of those sessions as high as $50,000 per day.

We hope lawmakers will bear those estimates in mind as they head into the final day of the session today. They’re so close.

Time to bring it home.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.