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Session Updates

For the 2015 Legislative Session, Sen. Stewart has introduced 40 bills ranging from job creation to education and fiscal accountability. In addition to the information below, you can go here to the state legislative website for more information on her bills.

Thursday
Apr162015

My work at the current Legislative Session

I have always felt it to be my duty to keep you informed about what is happening each year during the legislative session. As always, my priority issues are education, healthcare, water conservation, energy efficiency, and consumer protection. Here are a few of the bills I have introduced this session to address these and other concerns:

SB 127 (Education) Responsibility for end-of-course student exams: There has been lots of news lately about the ever-increasing number of standardized tests during the school year. This bill would move the responsibility for developing and selecting final exams back where it belongs -- with the teacher in the classroom, not the state bureaucracy in Santa Fe.

SB 128 (Education) Public school capital outlay needs: We have a number of schools where the buildings themselves are in good shape, but the systems needed to run these buildings have deteriorated and are in great need of replacing. Currently, we use state public school building funding to build new schools. My bill would allow these funds also to be used to replace old building systems like heating and cooling, ventilation, electrical, and roofs. This will also enhance our ability to make these schools more energy efficient.

SB 149 (Education) Early Literacy Act: This bill would allow districts and teachers to design an early intervention system for Students who need additional help in reading. The state has not been funding early literacy adequately and many districts are counting on this bill to help them promote early literacy.

SB 223 (Education) Phasing in higher salaries for teachers: We are losing teachers in New Mexico at an alarming rate because we have not kept pace with our neighboring states. This bill works to phase in a $2,000 a year salary increase to each of our three teaching levels over five years. 

SB 277 (Quality of Life) Community enhancement planning: This bill comes from the NM Planning Association, which for years has worked tirelessly on finding ways to improve the way our local governments plan development-- taking into account water availability, parks, biking/walking trails, and energy efficient homes.

SB 317 (Criminal Justice) Jail overcrowding: The Bernalillo County Criminal Justice Review Commission has made enormous strides over the past two years in reducing the prison population at the Metropolitan Detention Center. This bill allows the Commission to continue its important work.

SB 391 (Renewable Energy) Solar Market Development Tax Credit: This bill extends for another four years the 10% tax credit for home owners who install solar electric or solar heat systems. I can speak from personal experience. I put solar panels on my house 4 1/2 years ago and I haven't had an electric bill since. New Mexico is the second "sunniest" state in the nation. This bill allows consumers to make the move into renewable energy.

SB 534 (Law Enforcement) Missing persons emergency wireless phone location: This bill requires wireless companies to assist law enforcement agencies in missing person situations by providing the last instance of a cell phone signal. It's named after daughter of Missy and Greg Smith of Kansas who died before her cell phone information was released to the police.

SM 59 (Literacy) Access to programs for limited English proficient: Our International District has the distinction of having many Asian, African, and Native American citizens. This memorial is designed to help them in getting better access to state agencies through the use of translation services.

SM 86 (Alcohol Abuse) Community impacts: Alcohol use and abuse, especially by our youth, poses a growing problem in our district. This memorial asks the Health Department to conduct a study to take a hard look into the economic issues and impacts stemming from alcohol use.

In addition to these bills, I have secured funding for a new library and a new technology high school for the International District, as well as other needed funding for our schools. As always, I appreciate your emails and phone calls and I look forward to seeing you after the session.