Bill To Move New Mexico's Money Tripped Up In State Senate

04/21/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The New Mexico legislature adjourned for the year on Thursday without acting on a bill that would give preference to community banks and credit unions in bidding for contracts to handle state money.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe), was inspired directly by the Move Your Money campaign. Egolf estimates that the bill could potentially take more than a billion dollars away from Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

The bill had a lot of momentum: It passed the New Mexico House unanimously, and it had cleared two Senate committees and reached the floor this week but time ran out before it could see a vote. The state's constitution requires the legislature to adjourn at noon on the 30th day of its legislative session, which was Thursday.

"I'm a little sad," said Egolf in an interview with HuffPost on Friday. "It sailed through everything and got to the floor and I think it just got caught up, honestly, in politics between the House and the Senate."

The Senate was set to take up the bill on Thursday, but Senate Republicans spent the dwindling hours of the session filibustering a bill that would have allowed judges to put first-time drug offenders in treatment programs instead of prison.

"They ran the clock out at the very end with a filibuster," said Senate majority spokesman and policy analyst Gerald Gonzalez in an interview with HuffPost.

Jerry Walker, a lobbyist for the Independent Community Bankers Association in New Mexico, told HuffPost that he was not aware of any lobbying against the bill. Walker lobbied hard in support.

"Things just kinda went to pot," he said. "Our legislature just has a habit of melting down on the last day."

The legislature also failed to pass a budget, forcing Gov. Bill Richardson to call a special session for next week. Walker said he does not plan to lobby the governor's office in support of putting the bill on the agenda for next week. He'll wait till next year.

Egolf doesn't want to wait a year. He said he is considering whether he'll try to bring it up during the special session. (Egolf said Richardson supports the bill, but Richardson's office has not responded to several requests for comment.)

"I'm not closing the door on it," said Egolf. "I want to think through whether it makes sense to go forward. I would obviously love to do it. I'm still new in this whole thing and I'm so disappointed that I want to do it now. I don't want to wait a year. I need to think it through while I'm not so upset about the whole thing."

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