New Mexico State Senate

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New Mexico State Senate

Seal of New Mexico.gif
General Information
Type:   Upper house
Term limits:   None
2015 session start:   January 20, 2015
Website:   Official Senate Page
Senate President:   John Sanchez (R)
Majority Leader:   Michael Sanchez (D)
Minority leader:   Stuart Ingle (R)
Members:  42
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:   Art IV, Section 3, New Mexico Constitution
Salary:   $0/year + per diem
Last Election:  November 6, 2012 (42 seats)
Next election:  November 8, 2016 (42 seats)
Redistricting:  New Mexico legislature has control.
The New Mexico State Senate is the upper house of the New Mexico Legislature. It consists of 42 members and each member represents an average of 49,028 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[1] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 43,311 residents.[2] In odd-numbered years, state senators meet 60 days; in even-numbered years, they meet 30 days.

All seats are up for election every four years and are not subject to term limits. The next election is in 2016.

As of January 2015, New Mexico is one of 19 states that is under divided government and is therefore not one of the state government trifectas.

See also: New Mexico State Legislature, New Mexico House of Representatives, New Mexico Governor


Article IV of the New Mexico Constitution establishes when the New Mexico State Legislature, of which the Senate is a part, is to be in session. Section 5 of Article IV states that the Legislature is to convene its annual regular session on the third Tuesday of January. In odd-numbered years, the Legislature is to be in session for no longer than sixty days. In even-numbered years, the Legislature is to be in session for no longer than thirty days. In even-numbered years, the Legislature is limited to dealing with budgetary matters, bills that deal with issues raised by special messages of the Governor of New Mexico, and bills vetoed in the previous session by the Governor.

Section 6 of Article IV allows the Governor of New Mexico to call special sessions of the Legislature. Section 6 also allows the Legislature to meet in special session when three-fifths of each house petition the Governor with a request for a special session. Special sessions are not to exceed thirty days in length.


See also: Dates of 2015 state legislative sessions

In 2015, the Legislature will be in session from January 20 through March 21 (Projected).

Major issues

Major issues during the 2015 legislative session include making New Mexico a "right-to-work" state, repeal of drivers licenses for the undocumented and an increase in the minimum wage.[3]


See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions

In 2014, the Legislature was in session from January 21 through February 20.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2014 legislative session included the economy, the budget, infrastructure and education.[4]


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 15 to March 16.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included education, solvency of the state's public retirement system, tax cuts for state businesses, and tougher anti-DWI laws.[5]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Senate was in session from January 17 through February 16.

Major issues

In their 30-day session the legislature considered drivers licenses for illegal immigrants, voter identification, business income tax, ethics reform, and defining homeowner rights in foreclosure proceedings.[6]

Gov. Susana Martinez (R) watched as the state legislature ended its session by rejecting a bill that would have repealed the law allowing drivers licenses to be issued to people without Social Security numbers. It was the third time she has tried to undo the law. The bill was initially passed by the House but defeated in the Senate. The Senate instead passed a measure shortening how long the licenses are valid and imposing harsher penalties on those committing fraud.[7]


In 2011, the Legislature was in session from January 18 through March 19.[8]

The 45 calendar days that the New Mexico Legislature was in session during 2011 is tied with Utah, Wyoming, and Arkansas for the shortest legislative session in the country.[9]


In 2010, the Senate was in regular session from January 19 to February 18. Additionally, the Senate convened a special session from March 1 to March 4.[10]

Role in state budget

See also: New Mexico state budget

New Mexico operates on an annual budget cycle, with each fiscal year beginning in July. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[11][12]

  1. Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies in July.
  2. State agencies submit their budget requests in September.
  3. Agency hearings are held in September and December.
  4. The governor submits his or her budget proposal to the New Mexico State Legislature on the first day of the legislative session.
  5. The legislature adopts a budget in February or March. A simple majority is required to pass a budget.

New Mexico is one of 44 states in which the governor has line item veto authority.[12]

The governor is constitutionally required to submit a balanced budget. In turn, the legislature is also constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget.[12]

Cost-benefit analyses

See also: Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative Cost-Benefit Study
Map showing results of the Pew-MacArthur cost-benefit study.

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 which indicated that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. Among the challenges states faced were a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. New Mexico was one of 29 states with mixed results regarding the frequency and effectiveness in its use of cost-benefit analysis.[13]

Ethics and transparency

Following the Money report

See also: Following the Money 2014 Report

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending.[14] According to the report, New Mexico received a grade of C+ and a numerical score of 77, indicating that New Mexico was "middling" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.[14]

Open States Transparency

See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. New Mexico was given a grade of C in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data is to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A -- Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.[15]



See also: New Mexico State Senate elections, 2012

Elections for the office of the New Mexico State Senate were held in New Mexico on November 6, 2012. State Senate seats in all 42 districts were up for election in 2012.

The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was February 14, 2012, and the primary Election Day was June 5, 2012.

During the 2012 election, the total value of contributions to the 94 Senate candidates was $5,111,892. The top 10 contributors were:[16]

The following table details the 10 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.


See also: New Mexico State Senate elections, 2008

Elections for the office of the New Mexico State Senate were held in New Mexico on November 4, 2008. State Senate seats in all 42 districts were up for election in 2008.

The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was March 18, 2008, and the primary Election Day was June 3, 2008.

During the 2008 election, the total value of contributions to the Senate candidates was $4,353,112. The top 10 contributors were:[17]


See also: New Mexico State Senate elections, 2004

Elections for the office of the New Mexico State Senate consisted of a primary Election Day on June 1, 2004, and a general election on November 2, 2004.

During the 2004 election, the total value of contributions to the Senate candidates was $2,464,793. The top 10 contributors were:[18]


See also: New Mexico State Senate elections, 2000

Elections for the office of the New Mexico State Senate consisted of a primary Election Day on June 6, 2000, and a general election on November 7, 2000.

During the 2000 election, the total value of contributions to the Senate candidates was $3,276,213. The top 10 contributors were:[19]


Article 4, Section 3 of the New Mexico Constitution states: Senators shall not be less than twenty-five years of age and representatives not less than twenty-one years of age at the time of their election. If any senator or representative permanently removes his residence from or maintains :No Residence in the district from which he was elected, then he shall be deemed to have resigned and his successor shall be selected as provided in Section 4 of this article. No person shall be eligible to serve in the legislature who, at the time of qualifying, holds any office of trust or profit with the state, county or national governments, except notaries public and officers of the militia who receive no salary.


See also: How vacancies are filled in state legislatures
How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures
NevadaMassachusettsColoradoNew MexicoWyomingArizonaMontanaCaliforniaOregonWashingtonIdahoTexasOklahomaKansasNebraskaSouth DakotaNorth DakotaMinnesotaIowaMissouriArkansasLouisianaMississippiAlabamaGeorgiaFloridaSouth CarolinaIllinoisWisconsinTennesseeNorth CarolinaIndianaOhioKentuckyPennsylvaniaNew JerseyNew YorkVermontVermontNew HampshireMaineWest VirginiaVirginiaMarylandMarylandConnecticutConnecticutDelawareDelawareRhode IslandRhode IslandMassachusettsNew HampshireMichiganMichiganAlaskaVacancy fulfillment map.png

If there is a vacancy in the senate, the Board of County Commissioners in the county representing the vacant seat must appoint a replacement. There are no deadlines set by Article IV, Section 4 of the New Mexico Constitution which governs legislative vacancies. The appointed replacement serves for the remainder of the unfilled term.[20]


See also: Redistricting in New Mexico

The New Mexico Legislature is responsible for redistricting. In 2011, it formed an 18-member interim redistricting committee to make recommendations for the actual redistricting process in the Legislature.

2010 census

New Mexico received its local census data on March 15, 2011. The state grew 13.2 percent from 2000 to 2010, with notable growth in its most populous cities; Albuquerque grew by 21.7 percent, Las Cruces grew by 31.4 percent, Rio Rancho grew by 69.1 percent, Santa Fe grew by 9.2 percent and Roswell grew by 6.8 percent.[21]

At the time of redistricting, Democrats controlled the Legislature while the Governor, Susana Martinez was a Republican. The interim committee reviewed eight House maps and nine Senate maps before the special redistricting session of the Legislature began on September 6, 2011. On September 21, the Senate passed a map on party lines, with the House following the next day. Gov. Martinez vetoed the maps on October 7, leaving a court to resolve the process. By the time new maps were passed, $8 million had been spent.[22]



See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the New Mexico Legislature are not paid a salary. Per diem is $154/day tied to the federal rate.[23]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

New Mexico legislators assume office January 1st.

Partisan composition

See also: Partisan composition of state senates
Party As of January 2015
     Democratic Party 25
     Republican Party 17
Total 42

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the New Mexico State Senate from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the New Mexico State Senate.PNG


The Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico is the presiding officer of the Senate and in that capacity is referred to as President of the Senate. However, the Lt. Gov can only vote in the case of a tie.

The Senate Committees' Committee exercises leadership and administrative control of the Senate. The committee is chaired by the president pro tempore and is made up of majority and minority leaders.[24][25]

Current leadership

Current Leadership, New Mexico State Senate
Office Representative Party
President of the Senate John Sanchez Ends.png Republican
President Pro Tempore of the Senate Mary Kay Papen Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Majority Floor Leader Michael Sanchez Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Minority Floor Leader Stuart Ingle Ends.png Republican
State Senate Minority Whip William Payne Ends.png Republican

List of current members

Current members, New Mexico State Senate
District Senator Party Assumed office
1 William Sharer Ends.png Republican 2001
2 Steven Neville Ends.png Republican 2005
3 John Pinto Electiondot.png Democratic 1977
4 George Munoz Electiondot.png Democratic 2009
5 Richard Martinez Electiondot.png Democratic 2001
6 Carlos Cisneros Electiondot.png Democratic 1985
7 Pat Woods Ends.png Republican 2013
8 Pete Campos Electiondot.png Democratic 1991
9 John Sapien Electiondot.png Democratic 2009
10 John Ryan Ends.png Republican 2005
11 Linda Lopez Electiondot.png Democratic 1997
12 Jerry Ortiz y Pino Electiondot.png Democratic 2005
13 William O'Neill Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
14 Michael Padilla Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
15 Daniel Ivey-Soto Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
16 Cisco McSorley Electiondot.png Democratic 1997
17 Mimi Stewart Electiondot.png Democratic 2015
18 Lisa Torraco Ends.png Republican 2013
19 Sue Beffort Ends.png Republican 1997
20 William Payne Ends.png Republican 1997
21 Mark Moores Ends.png Republican 2013
22 Benny J. Shendo Jr. Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
23 Sander Rue Ends.png Republican 2009
24 Nancy Rodriguez Electiondot.png Democratic 1997
25 Peter Wirth Electiondot.png Democratic 2009
26 Jacob Candelaria Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
27 Stuart Ingle Ends.png Republican 1985
28 Howie Morales Electiondot.png Democratic 2009
29 Michael Sanchez Electiondot.png Democratic 1993
30 Clemente Sanchez Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
31 Joseph Cervantes Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
32 Cliff R. Pirtle Ends.png Republican 2013
33 Bill Burt Ends.png Republican 2011
34 Ron Griggs Ends.png Republican 2012
35 John Arthur Smith Electiondot.png Democratic 1989
36 Lee Cotter Ends.png Republican 2013
37 William P. Soules Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
38 Mary Kay Papen Electiondot.png Democratic 2001
39 Phil Griego Electiondot.png Democratic 1997
40 Craig Brandt Ends.png Republican 2013
41 Carroll Leavell Ends.png Republican 1997
42 Gay Kernan Ends.png Republican 2003

Senate Standing Committees

The New Mexico Senate has 9 standing committees:


Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, New Mexico
Partisan breakdown of the New Mexico legislature from 1992-2013

During every year from 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the New Mexico State Senate. The New Mexico State Senate is 1 of 16 state senates that was Democratic for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013.

Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of New Mexico, the New Mexico State Senate and the New Mexico House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of New Mexico state government(1992-2013).PNG

SQLI and partisanship

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the New Mexico state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. New Mexico experienced two Democratic trifectas during the years of the study, from 1992-1994 and from 2003-2010. The state finished in the bottom-10 during every year of the study. Its worst ranking, finishing 50th, occurred from 1999-2000, during a divided government. Its best ranking, finishing 41st, occurred in 2008, during a Democratic trifecta.

Chart displaying the partisanship of the New Mexico government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

See also

External links


  1., "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
  2., "Census 2000 PHC-T-2. Ranking Tables for States: 1990 and 2000," accessed May 15, 2014
  3. University of New Mexico, "New Mexico 2015 Legislative session opens," accessed January 21, 2014
  4., "Issues facing the New Mexico Legislature ," accessed January 21, 2014
  5. ABQ Journal, "Legislature: New Members, Old Issues," January 13, 2013
  6. Santa Fe New Mexican, "Election-year tension and redrawn districts set stage for political dramas at the Capitol," January 15, 2012(Archived)
  7. Latin American Herald Tribune, "Undocumented New Mexicans Can Still Get Driver’s Licenses," February 19, 2012
  8. National Conference of State Legislatures, "2011 Legislative Sessions Calendar," accessed June 6, 2014(Archived)
  9. South Carolina Policy Council, "50 State Legislative Session Interactive Map," February 2011 (dead link)(Dead link)
  10. New Mexico Legislature, "Session Dates," accessed August 12, 2014
  11. National Conference of State Legislatures "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 National Association of State Budget Officers "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
  13. Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
  14. 14.0 14.1 U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
  15. Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
  16. Follow the Money, "New Mexico State Senate 2012 Campaign Contributions," accessed May 12, 2014
  17. Follow the Money, "New Mexico State Senate 2008 Campaign Contributions," accessed May 12, 2014
  18. Follow the Money, "New Mexico State Senate 2004 Campaign Contributions," accessed May 12, 2014
  19. Follow the Money, "New Mexico State Senate 2000 Campaign Contributions," accessed May 12, 2014
  20. New Mexico Legislature, "New Mexico Constitution," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Section, Article IV, Section 4)
  21. U.S. Census Bureau, "U.S. Census Bureau Delivers New Mexico's 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting," accessed August 12, 2014
  22. The Republic, "New Mexico's redistricting costs total nearly $8M, exceeding expenses a decade ago," August 2, 2012. Accessed August 20, 2012(Archived)
  23., "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
  24. New Mexico Legislature "New Mexico Legislative Handbook - Pg. 8 "Organization," accessed August 12, 2014
  25. New Mexico Legislature, "New Mexico Senate Leadership," accessed August 12, 2014