New Mexico Legislature

KRWG Public Media coverage of the New Mexico legislature.  Major partners include the Associated Press and the Southern New Mexico Journalism Collaborative.

Persistence pays off for New Mexico early childhood bill

Mar 19, 2021

LAS CRUCES - After years of failure, the effort to increase the annual distribution from the Land Grant Permanent Fund for early childhood programs achieved final passage with a 26-16 vote in the Senate Thursday, March 19.

House Joint Resolution 1 would increase the distribution from five percent to 6.25 percent, following an amendment in the Senate Judiciary Committee that will send 25 percent of the additional money to public schools. The remaining 75 percent would go to early childhood programs.

SANTA FE, N.M. — A bill that prohibits the use of wildlife traps, snares and poison on public lands across New Mexico has won the approval of the state Legislature.

A 35-34 vote of the state House on Thursday sent the measure to the governor for consideration.

The vote reflects a shift in attitudes toward animal suffering and new unease with use of steel foot traps and wire snares that many ranchers still swear by. 

SANTA FE, N.M.  — Legislation to legalize cannabis in New Mexico is scheduled for a decisive Senate floor vote under a framework that emphasizes government oversight of pricing and supplies along with social services for communities where the criminalization of pot has led to aggressive policing.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth scheduled a vote on a bill Friday to legalize cannabis consumption and sales to people 21 and over. Critics say the proposed regulatory framework may foster a powerful, government-protected monopoly.

Las Cruces City Council Applauds New Mexico Liquor License Expansion

Mar 18, 2021

  Sweeping reform of New Mexico’s liquor laws, which has been endorsed by a majority of the Las Cruces City Council, has been adopted by the New Mexico Legislature and was signed into law Wednesday, March 17, 2021 by Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham.

“This is a huge win for our local mom-and-pop restaurants and for our local economy. This has been one of my priorities on the City Council, which is to help level the playing field between small business owners and multinational corporations and franchisees,” said City Councilor Gabe Vasquez, who serves Council District 3. “The reform of our state's liquor licensing system will provide more opportunity to build local wealth and will help stop the practice of the unfair hoarding of liquor licenses in our community. This is a win for restaurant owners during a time when they need all the help they can get.

  SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday issued the following statement upon the historic Senate passage of House Joint Resolution 1, which if approved by New Mexico voters will amend the state constitution to deliver additional funds for early childhood education and at-risk public school students:

“I know I am not alone in feeling humbled and awe-struck by the transformational potential of today’s action at the Capitol. We are talking about comprehensively uplifting generations – generations – of New Mexican children and families. We are talking about fundamentally changing the historical trajectory of our state. This is a big deal, the big deal.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The legislature hit a stalemate over an initiative to rein in interest rates on small, short-term loans.

Advocates for lowering maximum interest rates on storefront loans say current loan rates exploit the poor and can send borrowers into a spiral of debt.

The state Senate rejected amendments Thursday from the House to a bill that initially capped interest rates at 36% annually. House-approved revisions would allow a maximum annual percentage rate of 99% for loans of $1,100 or less. Current interest rates are capped at 175% annual interest.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed legislation that will clear the way for more prescribed fires as New Mexico deals with worsening drought and climate change.

The measure clarifies liability for private landowners who conduct prescribed burns. Officials with the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department say that will make it easier and more affordable for landowners to get insurance. They say similar legislation in other states has resulted in increased prescribed burning.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico state Senate is debating a constitutional amendment that could increase funding for early childhood and K-12 education by hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Passage would be a victory for Democrats who have tried to increase the withdrawal of funding from the Land Grant Permanent Fund for over a decade. The measure would increase withdrawals from the fund by 1.25%, with most of the money going to early childhood education and some going to K-12 schools.

New Mexico Senate passes final judgment on Gila River funds

Mar 18, 2021
Gila River

LAS CRUCES - The New Mexico Senate voted along party lines Wednesday, March 17, to bring finality to a debate over the Gila River that has been raging since passage of the Arizona Water Settlement Act of 2004.

The Senate voted 26-15 in favor of House Bill 200, which will transfer authority for $80 million in federal funds from the Central Arizona Project (CAP) Entity to the Water Trust Board for water infrastructure projects in Luna, Catron, Grant and Hidalgo counties, and end plans for a diversion project on the Gila.

The bill now goes to the governor for signing, but not before one last reprisal of the argument in favor of diversion.

Marijuana Bill Moves Forward, Despite Objections By Las Cruces State Senator

Mar 18, 2021
Senator Joseph Cervantes - (D)

LAS CRUCES - Legislation to legalize marijuana sales in New Mexico cleared the New Mexico Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, March 17, despite the objections of Chairman Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, who voted with Republicans on the committee in opposing the bill.

House Bill 12 now moves to the Senate calendar, with three days left in the session. It has the strong support of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, and is likely to be a top priority in the final days.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The governor has signed a sweeping liquor reform law that will allow home delivery in New Mexico.

The bipartisan law makes it easier for businesses to get a liquor license. To compensate existing license holders, it provides for a tax break. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says she signed the reform in part to increase revenue opportunities for the hospitality industry, which has been hit hard by shutdowns during the pandemic.

New Mexico Senate passes Civil Rights bill in late-night vote

Mar 17, 2021
Senator Joseph Cervantes - (D)

LAS CRUCES - The New Mexico Senate passed the New Mexico Civil Rights Act on a 26-15 vote taken after midnight, in the early morning hours of Wednesday, March 17.

House Bill 4 was proposed by a civil rights commission formed by legislation passed during a special session last June. It will remove the protection of qualified immunity from public employees, and allow for lawsuits by those who have had their civil rights violated. Republicans opposed the bill as being anti-police.

Sponsor Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, said the legislation came as the result of the horrific death of George Floyd in Minnesota last May which sparked outrage and protests throughout the nation and caused New Mexico legislators to re-examine laws safeguarding civil rights.

New Mexico Early Childhood Education proposal finally gets through Senate Finance

Mar 17, 2021

LAS CRUCES - The seventh time proved to be the charm Tuesday, March 16, as legislation to increase funding for early childhood education by taking more each year from the Land Grant Permanent Fund passed the New Mexico Senate Finance Committee for the first time.

Similar legislation has been passed by the House of Representatives in each of the past six sessions, but has died without a vote each year in the Senate Finance Committee under former Chair John Arthur Smith of Deming. Smith lost in the Democratic primary election last year, elevating Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, to chair.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A budget bill is advancing toward a Senate vote in New Mexico that would boost public salaries, shore up spending on public education and provide at least $400 million in state spending on economic relief measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Senate finance committee voted 6-4 with majority Democrats in support and Republicans in opposition to endorse amendments to a House-approved budget plan for the coming fiscal year.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico legislature is advancing a constitutional amendment to increase funding programs for children for decades to come.

The state Senate is considering an additional 1.25% withdrawal from an educational endowment that has nearly doubled in the last decade to $20 billion. The Finance Committee is voting along party lines to advance the bill. Republicans say it will deplete the fund too quickly.Democrats united behind it after including K-12 funding.

New Mexico Senate tightens rules on medical marijuana

Mar 16, 2021

LAS CRUCES - With two bills to legalize marijuana sales stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the New Mexico Senate turned its attention to the state’s medical marijuana program Monday, March 15.

With Senate Bill 340, the Senate voted to prohibit sales to out-of-state residents who do not have a medical marijuana card issued in New Mexico, after first rejecting an amendment that would have increased the daily sales limit for medical cannabis patients from three grams to two ounces.

Aid in dying bill nears final passage

Mar 16, 2021

 LAS CRUCES - Legislation that would allow health professionals to assist terminally ill patients in taking their own lives passed the Senate on a 24-17 vote after a lengthy debate Monday, March 15, and now goes back to the House for concurrence before it can be signed by the governor.

House Bill 47 would require confirmation by two health professionals that the patient has a terminal illness, and is mentally competent. The patient would then receive a lethal dose by pill, and would then have the option of when, or if, to take it. The pill would first induce a deep sleep, and then a painless death, said cosponsor Liz Stefanics, D-Cerrillos.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Lead state budget negotiators are rewriting spending plans to quickly tap federal pandemic relief money and shore up unemployment insurance, student financial aid, Medicaid insurance, teacher pensions and select state agency budgets.

New Mexico’s lead Senate budget committee on Monday put the finishing touches on proposed amendment to a spending plan for the coming fiscal year that starts on July 1. The amended plan would increase general fund spending by 4.8% over current annual spending obligations to $7.45 billion, a $373 million increase.

New Mexico lawmakers pass bill to break NCAA rules

Mar 15, 2021

LAS CRUCES - It will now be up to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to decide if college athletes in New Mexico will be required to abide by NCAA rules.

The New Mexico House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 94 on a 43-21 vote Sunday, March 14, sending it to the governor. If signed, it would allow college athletes in New Mexico to make paid commercial endorsements in violation of NCAA rules.

Student athletes could lose their eligibility if the NCAA were to enforce its rules, but sponsor Rep. Moe Maestas, D-Albuquerque, assured his fellow members they won’t. He said California has already passed similar legislation, and other states are considering it.

New Mexico Bill Allowing Terminally Ill Patients To Receive Aid In Dying Moves Forward

Mar 15, 2021

LAS CRUCES - Legislation that would allow terminally ill patients to get assistance from health care professionals in ending their lives passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sunday and now movies to the full Senate for a final vote.

House Bill 47 would require confirmation by two medical professionals that the patient’s illness is terminal and that he or she is of sound mental capacity. The patient would be given a lethal pill, and would have the option to take it or not take it at the time and place of his or her choosing.

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State legislators are at a stalemate regarding popular efforts to legalize marijuana in New Mexico with less than a week remaining to send a bill the governor. A state Senate panel pulled cannabis discussions off its agenda minutes before a Sunday hearing. Legislators are searching for common ground among advocates for legalization who say the industry would help New Mexico’s economic recovery from the pandemic. Divergent views on marijuana taxation, licensing and pardon procedures for past convictions are complicating efforts to bring a final bill to a crucial Senate vote. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has set cannabis legalization as a high priority. Legislators have a March 20 deadline to send bills to the governor.

  SANTA FE – Today, the New Mexico Senate passed Senate Bill 234 to remove requirements for home school students who qualify for the Legislative Lottery Tuition Scholarship. Under current law, in order to receive the tuition scholarship, home school students must transfer to a public school or take the General Education Diploma (GED) exam.


“I want to thank my colleagues for their support on this important legislation,” said Senator Cliff Pirtle (District 32-Chaves, Eddy, and Lea). “If enacted, this bill will remove unnecessary and onerous hurdles for our home school students and provide them with an incentive to remain in New Mexico.”


The Legislative Lottery Tuition Scholarship encourages New Mexico high school graduates and GED recipients to enroll full-time and complete a two-year degree within four semesters or a four-year degree within eight semesters. Financial support is provided through the paying of a portion of the tuition cost at any New Mexico public postsecondary institution.


Senate Bill 234 will now advance to the House of Representatives for consideration. 

Bipartisan child support legislation passes both New Mexico House and Senate

Mar 13, 2021

SANTA FE – Senate Bill 140 sailed unanimously without debate through the House this afternoon. Senator Gay Kernan and Representative Daymon Ely introduced joint legislation that modernizes New Mexico child support law and brings it in compliance with federal law that will collect more child support for New Mexico kids. Passage of the bill saves New Mexico from losing $147.5 million in federal funding: $122.6 million for the Temporary Assistance for Low-Income Families (TANF) program and $24.9 million in child support administrative/program funding if it fails to comply with federal law.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The debate over how to use New Mexico's unique endowment is heating up.

A proposal in the Senate would give voters the chance to approve an increase in withdrawals from the $20 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund to invest in universal pre-K, infant and toddler care along with optional home visits for new parents.

Support for rural air service passes New Mexico House

Mar 12, 2021
Rep. Nathan Small

LAS CRUCES - Legislation designed to increase air service to rural parts of the state passed the New Mexico House of Representatives on a 55-8 vote Thursday, March 11, and now moves to the Senate.

House Bill 325 would provide grants to municipal or county governments to expand or begin air service. Those with existing air service could receive grants up to $1.25 million with a 50 percent local match; and those without existing service could receive up to $1.75 million with a 20 percent match. The funds would assist airlines in establishing regional service.

Marjorie Childress-NM In Depth

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s state Senate has approved a bill to create a clean fuel standard that environmentalists and Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham say would move the state closer to reaching its carbon reduction goals.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico state Legislature is advancing a bill that would prohibit discrimination based on traditional hairstyles and head coverings.

The state Senate is advancing the “Crown Act," as it's known nationally, after a 27-12 vote. Conceived as a measure to protect African Americans from discrimination based on natural or traditional hairstyles, the proposed law is winning support from a broader coalition, including Native American and religious advocates.

SANTA FE, N.M. — A proposal to make it illegal to demonstrate at any specific private residence in New Mexico has been endorsed by the state House by a narrow margin. The House voted 33-31 on Thursday to outlaw “residential targeted picketing” to protect people from harassment or being terrorized in their homes by demonstrators.

New Mexico Civil Rights Act advances to final vote in Senate

Mar 11, 2021
Rep. Liz Thomson

LAS CRUCES - A bill that would strip the legal protection of qualified immunity from public employees passed the New Mexico Senate Judiciary Committee on a 5-4 vote Wednesday, March 10, and now moves to the Senate floor for a final vote.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, is a co-sponsor of House Bill 4, which was recommended by a civil rights commission created by legislation passed during a special session last June. It will allow people to sue public bodies for violations of their civil rights.