LAS CRUCES - With three weeks still to go in this year’s 60-day session of the New Mexico Legislature, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has already signed two bills on her priority list into law.
Lujan Grisham signed both Senate Bill 10, to remove an old abortion law from the books, and House Bill 11, to provide grants to small businesses harmed by the pandemic, on Friday, Feb. 26
HB 11 is one of several bills this session intended to help small businesses impacted by public health restrictions put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19. Businesses can qualify for up to $100,000, distributed over four quarters. The New Mexico Finance Authority will oversee the application process and distribution of the grants.
Attorneys for House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, filed a court motion Friday seeking to overturn an ethics complaint filed by former District Court Judge Sandra Price alleging that he would personally benefit from House Bill 4.
Better known as the Civil Rights Act, that bill would end qualified immunity from civil lawsuits filed by those claiming a violation of their constitutional rights. Price argues that as a private attorney, Egolf stands to benefit from the new law. Egolf’s attorneys called the claim frivolous and unsubstantiated and said there is no claim upon which relief can be granted.
HB 4 has passed in the House and cleared its first Senate committee Friday on a 5-3 vote in the Health and Public Affairs Committee. It goes next to the Judiciary Committee.
COVID at work
COVID-19 could be classified as a work-related injury, subject to workers’ compensation payments, under a bill passed on a 5-3 vote in the House State Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee.
House Bill 268 would allow essential workers to file for compensation if they contract COVID-19 and can prove that their employer did not comply with public health orders. Employers could rebut the claim by providing evidence that the worker violated public health orders.
The bill now moves to the House floor for consideration.
Paid sick leave
Legislation to allow workers to accumulate paid sick leave for every hour worked passed the House on a 36-33 vote Sunday, and now moves to the Senate.
House Bill 20 would require employers to offer paid sick leave to both full-time and part-time workers. Workers would earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Time accumulated would roll over from year to year, with a maximum of 64 hours.
“No one should have to choose between taking a needed sick day or being able to pay their bills. HB 20 ensures that workers in New Mexico won’t have to,” said co-sponsor Angelica Rubio, D-Las Cruces.