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Senate plans to work on Saturday

Senate Minority Leader Jorge Garcia spoke too soon when he teased Sen. Manny Alvarez about working on Saturday, June 27 because of a committee hearing scheduled that day.

Alvarez, a Democrat from Elfrida, is a member of the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, which has posted an agenda that includes a meeting on Saturday.

“The joke was on me,” Garcia said a few hours later.

It appears that Garcia and other senators, not just members of the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, will be working on the weekend.

The Senate plans to debate and vote on measures on June 27, part of legislative leaders’ efforts to complete as much as work as possible before the end of the month, when the Legislature is expected to wrap up this year’s session.

A memo sent to lawmakers advised them to prepare for a full day of work. It also would be a good idea to bring lunch, the memo added.

The Senate’s plan to hunker down on the weekend came after two successive Friday floor sessions. The Senate usually wraps up work for the week on Thursdays. It rarely convenes on a Friday, much less a Saturday.

But things have been out of the ordinary this year, when lawmakers grapple with a $3 billion budget deficit for fiscal 2010, one of the worst deficits among states in the nation relative to the size of revenue.

Senate President Bob Burns decided at the start of the legislative session to place a moratorium on non-budget bills, with the exemption of time-sensitive or budget-related legislation, so lawmakers could focus on bridging the deficit.

Burns started assigning bills to committees earlier this month.

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