Introduction & Committee Referral
Legislators may singly or by committee introduce bills in either the Senate or the House of Representatives. After a bill has been drafted and prepared for introduction, the Chief Clerk assigns it a number. The Reading Clerk reads it twice by number and title, along with the name of the principal sponsor. The presiding officer orders it printed and assigns it to one or more appropriate committees for further study.
Committee Consideration & Action
Most of the consideration of legislation in New Mexico occurs in committees. It is in committees that the public has the opportunity to testify in favor or opposition to a particular bill. After considering the testimony, the committee can take one of several actions.
1. The committee may recommend to the legislative body that a bill Do Pass, Do Pass as Amended, or Do Not Pass, or it may refer a bill back to the floor or to another committee Without Recommendation;
2. The committee may substitute a new and similar bill for the original bill, incorporating changes the committee may wish to make;
3. The committee may recommend referral of the bill to another committee; or
4. The committee may simply do nothing and let the bill die by not reporting it out of committee
The committee reports are subject to adoption by the full House or Senate. When the favorable committee report is adopted, the bill is placed on the calendar, which is the schedule of business the House or Senate must consider on any day.
When a bill is called for its third reading, members may debate its pros and cons on the chamber floor. Amendments may be added at this stage, or the entire bill may be substituted by another similar bill. The sponsor of the bill is allowed to close a debate by speaking last on the bill. A final vote is taken and recorded.
Sent to the Other House
After a bill receives a favorable vote, it is sent with a letter of transmittal to the other house where it follows a similar procedure. Duplication of procedure serves as a safety check ensuring that all aspects are considered before the bill is enacted into law.
A bill that is amended in the second house must be sent back to the first house for agreement. This is called concurrence. If concurrence is denied, the second house votes on whether to recede or withdraw from its amendment. If it fails to recede, the bill is usually sent to a conference committee to attempt to work out a version agreeable to both houses. In order for the bill to pass, both houses must agree to the report of the conference committee.
Enrolling & Engrossing
When both houses in the legislature have agreed on a final version of the bill, it is enrolled & engrossed, which means that it is copied with all of its amendments or changes. The presiding officers of both houses sign the bill, and it is sent to the governor for signature.
The governor may sign the bill, in which case it becomes a law of New Mexico, or
1. The governor may veto (disapprove) the bill. If the legislature is still in session, it may attempt to override the governor’s veto.
2. If the governor fails to sign the bill within three days while the legislature is still in session, it becomes law without the governor’s signature.
3. If the legislature has adjourned, the governor has 20 days from adjournment to decide about bills the legislature has sent. If the governor fails to act upon a bill after the legislature has adjourned, it is called a pocket veto.
4. The governor of New Mexico may also “line item” veto specifics in bills sent.