Las Cruces senators get vice chairmanships
Freshmen Sens. William Soules and Joseph Cervantes, both Democrats from Las Cruces, will be vice chairmen of high-profile committees, the Senate decided Thursday afternoon.
Soules, 57, a teacher, is vice chairman of the Education Committee.
Cervantes, an attorney who turns 52 this month, takes the vice chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee.
Soules, right, says he opposes Gov. Susana Martinez’s initiative for state-ordered retentions of thousands of third-graders in the bottom tier on reading tests.
“I do not think it’s a good idea,” he said.
Establishing “a wall” at which point a student would be held back is a flawed approach, Soules said. Other Democrats have criticized Martinez’s idea because they say it gives parents no part in the decision on whether a child repeats third grade.
The retention bill likely will be the one Martinez pushes hardest during the 60-day legislative session.
Sen. John Sapien, D-Corrales, moves up to chair the Education Committee. He succeeds former senator Cynthia Nava of Las Cruces, who did not run for re-election.
Cervantes, right, won election to the Senate after serving for 12 years in the state House of Representatives. He was both chairman and vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee during his years in that body.
A bill to exempt suppliers and manufacturers at Spaceport New Mexico from liability lawsuits if a spaceship crashed is likely to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee this winter. The bill died in that committee in 2012.
“I am confident we’ll get something worked out this year,” Cervantes said of the measure that has high interest in southern New Mexico.
The Spaceport is a $209 million enterprise.
Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Espanola, remains chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
The Senate Finance Committee will continue to be chaired by Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming. Smith, 71, has been a senator since 1989.
Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, remains as chairwoman of the Rules Committee. It holds confirmation hearings on high-level gubernatorial appointees.
A Senate assigning committee made recommendations on all appointments. The proposals were accepted by the full, 42-member Senate.