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SANTA FE – Procedural warfare erupted on the floor of the state House late Friday – as legislative staffers locked doors to the chamber and chased down missing lawmakers – before Democrats pushed through legislation that would require a background check on nearly every firearm sale in New Mexico.
The dispute started when House Republicans moved for a “call of the house” – a procedure that allows the Legislature’s sergeant-at-arms staff to return any missing lawmakers to the floor, by force if necessary, for a vote.
Republican - David - Gallegos - Eunice - Floor
But at least one Republican, David Gallegos of Eunice, was absent and didn’t return to the floor within 15 minutes.
The House couldn’t move forward with debate on the gun legislation until every member, except those excused, were returned to the floor.
House - Speaker - Brian - Egolf - D-Santa
House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, accused Republicans of stalling and playing games. Democrats had returned to the House for the call, he said, but it was a Republican who was missing.
House Democrats eventually used a procedural move to excuse Gallegos from the call, close debate and move to a final vote on the bill.
Chaos - Proposal - House - Bill - Vote
Chaos ensued as the proposal, House Bill 8, passed on a 41-25 vote.
“I’m just extremely disappointed with what happened,” Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, told his colleagues as the activity settled down. “It makes me wonder why I’m even here.”
Egolf - Democrats - Working
Egolf responded that Democrats had acted appropriately to keep working.
“The call was put on for the purpose of stifling debate because (a Republican) was knowingly absent, and we wanted to proceed,” he said.
Republicans - Call - House - Chamber - Monday
Republicans later lifted the call of the house and threatened to leave the chamber and not return until Monday. But Democrats immediately placed another call on the House – keeping all the members present locked in the chamber.
“Lock that door!” House Majority Leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton, D-Albuquerque, shouted to keep Republicans...
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