Legislative tidbits: Official tie not good enough

Santa Fe New Mexican staff

Days remaining in session: 57

Legalize the bolo: More than 20 years ago, the Legislature named the bolo the “official state tie or neckwear of New Mexico” in a memorial that declared people who wear bolos “shall be welcomed at all events or occasions when the wearing of a tie is considered if not mandatory, then at least appropriate.”

But that’s not enough to get you onto the floor of the House of Representatives if you’re wearing a bolo instead of a cloth necktie. There have been instances in recent years of bolo-adorned state senators being turned away from the House door for joint sessions and told to get a proper tie.

That would change if House Resolution 1, introduced Thursday by Rep. James Roger Madalena, D-Jemez Pueblo, passes the House.

“I’ve tried it before but it’s never passed,” Madalena said. Thursday. “Maybe this time we’ll do better.”

All paid for and ready to go: The Legislature’s 60-day session will cost taxpayers $138,778 a day.

A bill to pay for operations of the session won final approval Thursday and will be sent to Gov. Bill Richardson to be signed into law.

The measure, known as the “feed bill,” provides $8.3 million for the expected costs of the legislative session. That’s about 5.7 percent more than lawmakers appropriated for the most recent 60-day session, which was in 2007.

However, the $8 million is about 21 percent higher than the actual expenses of the 2007 session.

Institootin’ the speaker’s horn: Everyone knows that House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Nambe, is an institution in the Legislature. But he’s also the namesake of an institute.

House Bill 214, sponsored by Rep. Richard Vigil, D-Ribera, would appropriate $500,000 for the Ben Lujan Leadership and Public Policy Institute at New Mexico Highlands University. The bill said the institute explores New Mexico policy issues and would be responsible for developing “a curriculum for use by New Mexico schools dealing with youth entrepreneurship.”

The Lujan Institute originated in 2005.

Transportation secretary nominee to go in front of Senate: The state Transportation Commission has unanimously approved the appointment of Gary Giron as the secretary of the Transportation Department.

Giron was appointed to the post in November by Gov. Bill Richardson after Rhonda Faught retired.

State law requires the commission to approve the governor’s appointment. It will now go before the state Senate for final approval.

Transportation Commission Chairman Johnny Cope said the commission has confidence in Giron’s ability to lead the department and complete transportation projects across New Mexico.

Giron said the department faces real challenges, including finding funding for its projects in a year when the state is facing a budget deficit.

Looking ahead: Neither the Senate nor the House will meet in a floor session today.

Legislators typically leave town the first Friday of the session, allowing time for all those bills that have been introduced to be printed, and for lawmakers to tidy up personal business at home before living in Santa Fe for the next seven weeks.

House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Nambe, told lawmakers before the House adjourned around 1:30 p.m. to rest while they can.

“It could very well be the last weekend that we don’t meet,” he said. “Have a nice weekend, and rest because next week we might be a little busy.”