Sen. Stuart Ingle of R-Portales, center, talks with Sen. Clint Harden, R-Clovis, right, and Walter Bradley, director of government and industry relations for Dairy Farmers of America Inc’s southwest area. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)
Elected officials and business leaders vented frustration with the 30-day legislative session Friday over scrambled eggs and gravy and biscuits.
The morning meal, hosted by the Association for Industry and Commerce (ACI), reviewed the recent session, with commentary by local senators and representatives.
About $1.7 million for regional capital outlay projects was vetoed by Gov. Bill Richardson, raising ire among legislators who backed them.
Among the most mourned losses was $700,000 legislators set aside for the design and construction of a new intersection at Commerce Way in Clovis.
The intersection is one of the most dangerous in Clovis. Doing something to fix it was the No. 2 priority of city officials.
“It was a really trying 30-day session from my vantage point,” said Rep. Anna Crook, R-Clovis.
Crook said some controversial issues were squeezed into the short session, which is generally reserved for budget and revenue. And three battles, over minimum wage, use of medical marijuana and payday loans, remain unresolved, she said.
Local ACI members, with vocal representatives from the dairy and food industry, pounced on the chance to slam the minimum-wage proposal. Many fear it will resurface, although Gov. Richardson announced he would not call a special legislative session to draft an increase plan.
The industry and commerce organization should not support any effort to raise wages in the state, said Greg Southard, owner of Leslie’s Candy Co. in Clovis.
“The minimum-wage issue really split the business community,” ACI Vice President of Government Affairs Sayuri Yamada said.
Pleased the minimum-wage bill stalled in the session, Sen. Clint Harden, R-Clovis, said he was “concerned with a bunch of things that didn’t happen” as a result of the governor’s veto pen.
Cuts in programs to restore damaged watersheds in the state and cuts in county road improvements concerned him most, he said.
“These are roads that we use to get kids back and forth from schools, roads we use to transport milk,” Harden said. “I don’t think the governor travels on these roads enough.”
Harden added, “I can’t help compare the enthusiasm of the send-off (at the end of the session) ... to the weary eyes I see this morning.”
Another Republican legislator, Sen. Stuart Ingle of Portales, said he noticed inequities in the governor’s vetoes.
“There is a little bit of a slant about some of the things vetoed,” Ingle said. “The governor didn’t veto too much of his.”
Ingle said the honeymoon between the governor and the Legislature has come to an end.