Controversial bills up for debate in legislative session

Posted at: 01/21/2014 8:30 AM
Updated at: 01/21/2014 9:23 AM
By: Nikki Ibarra, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Tuesday kicks off the 30-day legislative session in New Mexico. A number of controversial bills are set to take the state in the coming weeks.

First, Gov. Susana Martinez will give her State of the State address, where she's expected to talk about her budget proposal for 2014. She wants $6 billion in spending, with about $100 million in new spending for public schools.  

Martinez has been vocal in the past about making New Mexico competitive through education reform. Part of the new funding will go toward raising the starting salaries for new teachers from $30,000 to $33,000.

Some educators across the state are responding to the budget plans, saying it can be tough hiring teachers when nearby states offer much higher salaries to first-year teachers.

The governor is also expected to push the state to stop issuing driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants—something she's fought for in the past four sessions.

Another bill expected to heat up the legislative session is about legalizing recreational marijuana in New Mexico. The bill is modeled after Colorado's new pot law, and anyone 21 and older would be allowed to possess and use marijuana.

The lawmaker who proposed the legislation, Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, said he thinks legalizing marijuana will actually help fight to war on drugs.

Another proposal on the line: A ban on gay marriage. Last month, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is legal, but some lawmakers are pushing for a ban.