Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Look Back at the Special Session

The Special Session ended Thursday, March 4th. This report is delayed because on Saturday, March 6th, my wife and I headed to Texas to work on wedding plans for my youngest daughter. We returned to New Mexico on March 12th, and I immediately headed to Albuquerque for the State Republican Pre-Primary Convention. I was back home on Saturday, then back in Santa Fe on Monday the 15th through Wednesday the 17th to file for re-election. More on that later.

The Second Special Session

The recently completed four day special session was notable in my mind for the sudden changes in intensity. We would have periods of idleness, suddenly interrupted with prolonged acrimonious debates on the floor of the House. These changes came with little warning. The periods of idleness grated on many of us on the Republican side. We felt that the taxpayer’s money and our time were being wasted. These lulls were caused by the Democrat caucuses or committee meetings with which most of us were not directly involved.

There were moments when I was not even sure if a budget would be passed. This was particularly true of Monday evening when, in a meeting of the Tax and Revenue committee, two Democrat representatives bucked their leadership and voted against the cigarette tax increase bill. The tax committee meeting was abruptly recessed so that political pressure could be brought to bear on these two independent Democrats.

For much of the next day, we Republicans waited to see if the carefully crafted political deals arranged behind closed doors over the preceding weekend by the Democrat leaders would fall apart. Ultimately the wayward Democrats were brought back into line. With the subtlety of a medieval battering ram, the Democrat political machinery methodically began the process of forcing tax increases and a budget deal through the New Mexico Legislature.

There were skirmishes, debates, and amendments offered and tabled over the next few days. As Republicans we stood up and pointed out the flaws in the logic and plans of the Democrats to no avail. You would think that the Republicans would have become frustrated and despondent, but amazingly, I felt we were more together as a team than at any other time. We had opportunities to gather outside the Capitol Building and learn about each other as individuals. We are not all in lock step agreement on all issues, but as Republicans we have certain core concepts that we hold dear. We have learned to respect each other regardless of any minor differences on any particular issue. Republicans in the House are a hard-working group who take their responsibility of being Legislators seriously. In the end, our spirits remained high because we knew that, in spite of our defeats, we were shining the light of truth on the falsehoods and hypocrisy of the Democrat positions.

Elections matter, and the ones coming up will matter a great deal. If we work together as Republicans, we can change the tone of the House of Representatives and bring sound, frugal, and disciplined stewardship to the expenditure of the taxpayer’s dollars.