SANTA FE – New Mexico restricts high-interest loans from the storefront lending industry under a bill signed by Governor Susana Martinez.
Signed Thursday, the legislation by definition eliminates payday loans and caps interest rates at 175%. Small loans with a term of less than 120 days are prohibited.
Consumer advocates have pushed unsuccessfully to cap interest rates at 36%, as have a dozen other states. Industry lobbyists have voiced concerns over double-digit rates putting storefront lenders out of business.
Data from regulatory and licensing officials in New Mexico shows that interest rates on securities lending currently range from an average of 238% to over 450%. Installment loans can go much higher.
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A proposal to increase the statewide minimum wage of New Mexico to $ 9.25 an hour from $ 7.50 has been vetoed.
Gov. Martinez said in a veto message on Thursday that small businesses in rural areas could not support the proposed increase and criticized the legislature for proposing tax increases at the same time.
Martinez said she would support a lower minimum wage increase than those proposed by the Legislature.
The vetoed bill would also have banned local ordinances that require advance notice for employees’ schedules. Martinez stressed the opposition to this provision from the business community.
The state’s three largest urban areas – Santa Fe, Las Cruces, and Albuquerque – already have local minimums. The highest is $ 11.09 in Santa Fe.
A bill to encourage the installation of solar panels on buildings in the state of New Mexico has been vetoed.
Governor Martinez said in a veto message on Thursday that the legislation would have required additional agency staff without providing the necessary financial resources. Democrat Rep. Jeff Steinborn de Las Cruces’ bill would have ordered the New Mexico Department of General Services to pursue contracts with solar power providers that save the state money on costs electricity over time without an initial public investment. The Department of General Services oversees 750 state buildings.
Environmental group Conservation Voters New Mexico says concerns raised by the Republican governor have been addressed in the bill through increased savings on electricity and other measures.
Governor Martinez has vetoed a bill that would have expanded financial disclosure requirements for lobbyists.
Martinez on Thursday rejected new requirements for lobbyists to report expenses under $ 100 that are spent on lawmakers and other public officials.
In a veto message, Martinez says she supports the intent of the bill but fears it will have several unintended consequences, without further explanation.
Republican and Democratic sponsors of the measure have sought to fill a loophole in legislation approved last year that, moreover, increased reporting requirements for lobbyists. Expenses over $ 100 including meals are currently required to be reported periodically to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office.
Governor Martinez says she has vetoed a bill to restrict the use of solitary confinement in prisons and prisons because it could have endangered the lives of inmates and guards. Martinez vetoed a bill Thursday that would have banned the placement of pregnant women and minors in solitary confinement. The bill would also have limited the use of solitary confinement for inmates with mental illness.
The Republican governor and former district attorney said in a veto message that the bill misinterprets solitary confinement and would eliminate the flexibility needed for prison officers. She describes a situation in which a young offender could be sentenced to an adult detention center, posing a danger to the juvenile or other detainees without the ability to use restricted accommodation.
Governor Martinez has signed at least 65 bills and vetoed more than a dozen others as the deadline for acting on the legislation approaches.
On Thursday, the Republican governor vetoed a measure to reduce the use of solitary confinement in New Mexico’s prisons and jails, while signing a wide variety of laws in the Democratic-controlled legislature.
The approved bills are designed to boost investment in high-speed internet access, enable the sale of alcohol when New Years Eve falls on a Sunday, and give local authorities new control over curfews and taxes on alcohols, to describe just a few.
Martinez has until noon Friday to act on a $ 6.1 billion spending bill and related tax measures. She promises to veto the proposed tax increases.