Republican State Senator Don Shooter, who chairs the Appropriations Committee said Tuesday's meeting was to hear not from the public but from the directors of the departments of health and economic security about how they operate and their funding needs for the coming year.
Sen. David Lujan, a Democrat, objected, "We're not providing the public an opportunity to testify today on such an important part of what we do down here."
Shooter said some hearings last session last 14 hours as individuals and lobbyists representing special interests each pleaded for a share of the funding. He said new testimony now on the same issues is unnecessary. Sen.
Senator Linda Lopez, also a Democrat, disagreed. "I don't know how we as a body can make really important policy decisions without hearing from the residents of this state," said Lopez. "There are people who travel here from all over the state to provide testimony. And for us to not hear from them, I think is unconscionable."
Senator Shooter said Lopez was overreacting.
He said, " I hear from constituents every day, all the time, and I'm glad to have that input. And I do take it into account. So it's not like we're without ways for them to influence us."
And Sen. Ron Gould was not impressed with Lopez' protests that things were different in the House where she served for eight years.
"Welcome to the Senate," he said.