Senator Peter Wirth, Majority Floor Leader of the NM Senate
Air Dates: June 27-29, 2020
This Week – Senator Peter Wirth, Majority Floor Leader of the NM Senate
Topic: 2020 Special Session, Massive Changes Coming To The Senate Next Year & A Behind-The-Scenes Look at the Senate
June 25, 2020 – This week's guest on REPORT FROM SANTA FE is Senator Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe), Majority Floor Leader of the NM Senate, discussing the recent 2020 Special Session and the massive changes coming to the Senate next year.
Senator Wirth summarizes the important issues the recently-ended 2020 Special Session dealt with. It was an extremely challenging session as the lawmakers had to cope with public health restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant wearing masks and practicing social distancing. Many legislators were able to participate remotely, and all the proceedings were webcast so the public could watch the work at the Capitol.
Many important bills were passed and sent to the Governor for signature, among them the critical budget fix, police reform, election protection in the upcoming general election, and important economic relief for New Mexicans suffering from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
The Majority Floor Leader of the NM Senate notes that there are 9 senators that won't be back in the Upper House in January 2021. Wirth adds that he "figured out the years of service that we will be losing, with the nine members and the two that passed away, and it is 176 years of legislative service between the 11 members. 25%+ of the state’s Senate will not be back." And this comes at a time when the state is facing critical economic and health crises.
Senator Wirth explores the changes to the nature of the Senate and lays out the processes at work to fill the leadership posts and the committee chairs. Important positions such as the Pro Tem of the Senate must wait until next January's session, because the ProTem is nominated by the entire body of the Senate in that session.
Wirth ends this in-depth, behind-the-scenes interview on a positive note, "I want people to know that there is a legislature there that cares deeply about our state and we are at a moment where I think we have incredible opportunities, provided we can work through our challenges."