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.

New Mexico Senate blocks bill to limit governor’s powers

Mar 11, 2021
Senator Gregory A. Baca - (R) - Minority Floor Leader

LAS CRUCES – New Mexico Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca, R-Rio Rancho, was able to force a debate Wednesday, March 10, on his bill to limit the governor’s powers during an emergency, but nothing more.

Early in Wednesday’s session, while legislators were still on announcements, Baca moved that Senate Bill 74 be made the next order of business. After about an hour of debate, the motion was defeated 24-14 on a straight party-line vote, meaning the bill will likely continue to languish on the daily calendar until the end of the session.

“I’ve been assured that it won’t be heard,” Baca said.

Historic New Mexico Civil Rights Act Headed to Senate Floor

Mar 11, 2021

  Santa Fe, N.M. – The New Mexico Civil Rights Act passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday 5-4, and will now head to the Senate floor.  Here is a statement from the NM House Democrats:  


Sponsored by Representatives Georgene Louis (D-Albuquerque), Speaker of the House Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe), and Senator Joseph Cervantes (D-Las Cruces), House Bill 4: the New Mexico Civil Rights Act provides an avenue for justice for New Mexicans who have had their constitutional rights violated by government actors. 

  SANTA FE, N.M. — Lawmakers have advanced a bill toward a final Senate vote to eliminate police immunity from prosecution in state courts on civil rights violations ranging from racial discrimination to illegal search and seizure and freedom of speech violations.

On a 5-4 vote Wednesday, a Senate committee endorsed the proposed New Mexico Civil Rights Act that also would apply to allegations against local government and public schools.

The bill builds on recommendations from a commission chartered last year amid nationwide protests over police brutality and racial injustice. Separately, the New Mexico House endorsed a bill to overhaul how police officers are certified and disciplined.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico state Senate is advancing a bill that would allow minors who commit serious crimes to be eligible for parole earlier than criminals sentenced as adults.

The bill would enshrine Supreme Court rulings that have found life sentences without parole violates the constitutional rights of adolescents, including for crimes such as murder. If passed, the New Mexico bill would allow juvenile offenders to have a parole hearing within 15 years of their initial sentence.

Tom Koerner, USFWS.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico measure that would prohibit traps, snares and wildlife poisons from being used on public land has passed the Senate.

The legislation cleared the chamber late Tuesday despite four Democrats from rural areas breaking with their party and voting against it. It must still get through the House before lawmakers adjourn in less than two weeks.

New Mexico Governor signs bill to waive liquor license fees

Mar 10, 2021

LAS CRUCES - Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 2 on Tuesday, March 9, which will waive liquor-license fees for one year in an effort to help businesses most impacted by the pandemic.

The governor had previously signed legislation to give restaurants a four-month tax holiday and provide a $600 tax rebate for low-income workers, and two separate bills to provide both low-interest loans and grants to small businesses.

Santa Fe, N.M. – Legislation allowing alcohol delivery and opening new revenue streams for New Mexico’s hard-hit restaurant and hospitality industry is now on its way to the Governor’s desk, after the House concurred today on amendments made by the Senate. Here is a statement from the NM House Democrats:


House Bill 255 allows for home delivery of alcohol, creates a new class of restaurant liquor licenses, expands alcohol tastings, and offers a $200,000 tax deduction and fee waivers to protect the investments of existing liquor license holders. The bill holds bipartisan sponsorship from Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas (D-Albuquerque)Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-Albuquerque)Rep. Rod Montoya (R-Farmington), Rep. Joshua Hernandez (R-Rio Rancho)Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil (D-Albuquerque) and Rep. Javier Martínez (D-Albuquerque)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed legislation that will allow the state to waive annual liquor license fees as businesses struggle to rebound amid the pandemic.

The governor signed the measure Tuesday, saying the food and beverage industry is a key piece of the state's economy. Under the legislation, the next annual fee for renewed liquor licenses and for all new licenses issued in this year will be waived.

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Proponents of legalizing recreational marijuana in New Mexico are sitting down to the legislative bargaining table amid broad support. But as a crucial legislative hearing convened Tuesday, legalization advocates expressed stubbornly divergent views on how to stamp out illicit marijuana, address social justice concerns about prior drug convictions and provide economic opportunity for a fledgling industry. Leaders of the Democrat-led Legislature are trying to craft a bill to advance to the Democratic governor. There are four competing proposals vying to legalizing recreational cannabis for adults 21 and older. Whether legislators can reach a compromise is an open question. They have two weeks to do so.

State Indian Child Welfare Act Passes New Mexico House

Mar 9, 2021

  Santa Fe, N.M. – The New Mexico House of Representatives Monday passed new legislation expanding and codifying protections for Native American children in the state’s child welfare system.   Here is a statement from the NM House Democrats:


Sponsored by Rep. Georgene Louis (D-Albuquerque), House Bill 209 creates the State Indian Child Welfare Act (SICWA), establishing a New Mexico version of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).  

New Mexico House passes bill to cover COVID-19 in worker’s comp

Mar 9, 2021

LAS CRUCES - Essential workers who contract COVID-19 and who can demonstrate that their employers did not comply with existing public health orders would qualify for worker’s compensation benefits under a bill passed Monday, March 8, by the New Mexico House of Representatives on a 38-27 vote. It now moves to the Senate

House Bill 268 would also allow employers to rebut the claim if they could prove that the worker violated a public health order.

New Mexico bill would ban protests outside of homes

Mar 9, 2021
Representative Jason Harper (R-Rio Rancho)

LAS CRUCES - Members of the New Mexico Legislature recounted threats to their own personal safety Monday, March 8, in voting to support legislation that would make it illegal to protest outside a person’s home.

House Bill 223 would make it a misdemeanor to picket within 100 feet of the residence of the person being targeted. It passed the House Judiciary Committee on an 8-4 vote and is now eligible for a vote by the full House.

New Mexico PBS

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The House of Representatives has endorsed a tax increase that would boost subsidies for insurance coverage on the state health insurance exchange. The bill moves to the Senate for consideration. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham supports the bill. A similar proposal to broadly increase the surtax on insurance premiums stalled in the state Senate last year, as the federal government repealed its health care provider fee that helped support state insurance markets established under the Affordable Care Act. House Republicans stood in unified opposition to the surtax increase, citing concerns about small businesses.

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Under a bill aimed at reducing reliance on private campaign donations in the judiciary, New Mexico could become the first state to offer public campaign financing to candidates seeking to serve as judges in general jurisdiction courts that handle the bulk of criminal and civil-law trials. The bill from Democratic Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth of Santa Fe and allied Sen. Katy Duhigg of Albuquerque is headed toward a likely Senate floor vote this week. Supporters say public financing can open the door to a more diverse set of judicial candidates. No one spoke in opposition to the bill at Friday’s committee hearing.

Financial literacy bill passes New Mexico House

Mar 8, 2021
Rep. Willie Madrid, D-Chaparral

LAS CRUCES - Legislation to require high school students to complete a class in financial literacy before graduating passed through the New Mexico House of Representatives on a unanimous vote Saturday, March 6, and now moves to the Senate.

House Bill 163 would require that half of the math units needed for graduation be a financial management course that includes understanding budgets, managing checking and savings accounts and credit cards and loan interest rates.

“Knowing how to balance a checkbook, manage your credit, and plan financially for your future is critical to individual and professional success,” said sponsor Rep. Willie Madrid, D-Chaparral.

Redistricting bill reaches New Mexico Senate floor

Mar 8, 2021

LAS CRUCES - A compromise bill establishing procedures for the upcoming redistricting effort passed through the New Mexico Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously Saturday, March 6, and now moves to a vote of the full Senate.

Senate Bill 15 maintains an independent commission to redraw district maps, but would not require the Legislature to select a map without making changes to it, as was originally proposed by a task force headed by retired New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Edward Chavez and retired state Court of Appeals Judge Roderick Kennedy.

  A total of five bills have been introduced in this year's legislative session to legalize recreational cannabis. Despite this being a legislative priority, the New Mexico Senate only began debate on bills on February 27. Meanwhile, House Bill 12 passed the full House and has moved to the Senate.

But the clock is ticking for legalization to happen this year, with the session ending on March 20. KUNM's Megan Kamerick spoke with Andy Lyman with New Mexico Political Report, her co-host on the New Mexico PBS podcast “Growing Forward: Cannabis in New Mexico” to get an update on where things stand and why this push is happening so late in the 60-day session. The Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee was slated to take up debate on Saturday, March 6, on recreational cannabis legalization bills. They have since rescheduled that for Tuesday, March 9.

  Santa Fe, N.M. – New Mexico schools that increase their instructional time by extending their learning hours will now also qualify for extended learning program funding under new legislation passed unanimously by the House Saturday.  Here is a statement from the NM House Democrats: 

Currently, schools can only qualify for the K-5 Plus and Extended Learning Time programs by adding 25 full days to their school year. House Bill 184 adds a new provision to the public school funding formula that allows equivalent instructional hours to qualify for these programs. The bill holds bipartisan sponsorship from Rep. G. Andrés Romero (D-Albuquerque)Rep. Candie Sweetser (D-Deming), Rep. Derrick Lente (D-Sandia Pueblo), Rep. Joy Garratt (D-Albuquerque), and Rep. Rebecca Dow (R-Truth or Consequences)

  Santa Fe, N.M. – The New Mexico House has passed legislation increasing public liability for discrimination.  Here is a statement from the NM House Democrats:


Under new legislation passed by the House of Representatives today, public bodies and state agencies will rightly become subject to the same liabilities for discriminatory actions as other employers in the state.


Sponsored by Rep. Brittany Barreras (D-Albuquerque) and Rep. Angelica Rubio (D-Las Cruces), House Bill 192 amends the New Mexico Human Rights Act to clarify that public bodies and state agencies are subject to its provisions. Specifically, it establishes that these entities cannot refuse, limit, or condition services to any person because of their race, age, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, childbirth, physical or mental handicap, serious medical condition, or spousal affiliation.

Office of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A former trustee for New Mexico’s retirement system for its public employees has filed an ethics complaint against Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s chief operating officer. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Claudia Armijo has accused Teresa Casados of pressuring her to take part in voting to endorse a state Senate bill Lujan Grisham strongly backed in an attempt to eventually bring the state’s pension system out of debt. In 2020, the system had an estimated $6.6 billion in unfunded liabilities. Casados’ office did not respond to requests for comment made by the Santa Fe New Mexican.

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Senate is backing sweeping education funding reforms that will result in more money being sent to Native American school districts. The bill passed on Friday eliminates a credit long used by the state to send less education funding to schools surrounded by non-taxable lands like Native American reservations and army bases. Some senators argue the changes will sully a statewide funding formula focused on equality. But recent court judgments have ordered additional funding to underserved students, especially those serving Native American and low-income students. The Senate will also consider increasing funding for two-year colleges and payouts from the state’s $20 billion endowment.

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico would eliminate seasonal time changes under a bill endorsed by the New Mexico state Senate. On a 22-18 vote Friday, the Senate endorsed a Republican-sponsored bill that would keep New Mexico on daylight saving time throughout the year and do away with spring and fall clock adjustments. The bill moves to the House, where the level of support for it is uncertain. Republican Sen. Cliff Pirtle of Roswell has championed the initiative since 2013 without success. He says time changes are disruptive and that many people prefer to have extra daylight in the evening.

New Mexico Senate passes bill to create constitutional commission

Mar 5, 2021
Senator Joseph Cervantes - (D)

LAS CRUCES - While the U.S. Constitution has not been amended since 1992, voters in New Mexico make changes to our founding document every two years. Yet despite that constant tinkering, the New Mexico’s Constitution is still badly antiquated and unsuited to meet the needs of the state today, Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, said Thursday, March 4, in support of Senate Bill 367.

The bill, which passed 40-2 and now moves to the House, would create a 15-member Constitutional Revision Commission, which would contrast the state constitution with those of other states and review the findings of previous such commissions held in 1967 and 1994, and then recommend changes to the Legislature.

New Mexico House passes bill to protect renters

Mar 5, 2021

LAS CRUCES - Legislation that would provide additional protections to renters passed on a 42-25 vote Thursday, March 4, in the New Mexico House of Representatives and now moves to the Senate.

Among other provisions, the bill would prohibit owners from terminating or refusing to renew a rental agreement during a declared public health emergency if the motivation is nonpayment of rent. An exception would be allowed if the owner or immediate family member needed the property as a primary residence. The bill also extends the time permitted to pay back rent, extends the time period for nonpayment notices, clarifies requirements for deductions made to rental deposits and prohibits retaliation for reporting problems.

Enhanced Renter Protections Pass New Mexico House

Mar 4, 2021
Rep. Angelica Rubio - Las Cruces

  Santa Fe, N.M. – Amidst an ongoing pandemic that has deepened New Mexico’s housing crisis, new protections for renters passed the House of Representatives 42-25, and will now advance to the Senate. Here is a statement from the NM House Democrats: 


Sponsored by Rep. Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe) and Rep. Angelica Rubio (D-Las Cruces), House Bill 111 provides additional protections for New Mexico renters, including prohibiting rental termination or refusal to renew a housing contract during a declared emergency or disaster. The bill also increases certain civil penalties, extends the time permitted to remedy unpaid rent, requires longer time periods be given for nonpayment notices, clarifies requirements for deductions made to rental deposits, and prohibits retaliation against a renter due to reporting of problems with owner-provided services or appliances, or requests for reasonable accommodation for disabilities.

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Legislature has approved a bill that would provide a one-time waiver of annual liquor license fees, amid discussions of a broad regulatory overhaul of alcohol sales.

A 64-0 vote of approval by the House of Representatives on Thursday sent the measure to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who has embraced a variety of economic relief measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Bill co-sponsor Rep. Matthew McQueen of Galisteo called the fee waiver a gesture of good will to liquor license holders.

New Mexico Senate passes bill for new broadband office

Mar 4, 2021

LAS CRUCES - Millions of federal dollars are available to expand broadband Internet access in New Mexico, but the state can’t tap into that money until it has a plan, Senate Finance Committee Chairman George Muñoz, D-Gallup, told his fellow lawmakers.

Senate Bill 93, which passed the Senate on a 33-6 vote Wednesday, March 3, is intended to fix that problem. It would create the New Mexico Office of Broadband Access and Expansion, which would be responsible for evaluating the current system and coordinating its growth.

New Mexico Governor signs COVID-19 relief bills

Mar 4, 2021
Office of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

LAS CRUCES - Two bills to help low-income workers, restaurants and other businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic were signed Wednesday, March 3, by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Senate Bill 1 will provide a one-time tax credit of $600 for people earning up to $31,200 and married families earning up to $39,000 who claim the Working Families Tax Credit. It will also provide a four-month tax break for restaurants, from March through June of this year.

Senate Bill 3 amends a low-interest loan program passed during the special session in June to make the loans available to more small businesses that were impacted by the pandemic. The governor had previously signed House Bill 11, which made $200 million in grants available to small businesses.

Tax Fairness and Reform Bill Passes New Mexico House

Mar 3, 2021

  Santa Fe, N.M. - A major tax bill has passed the New Mexico House.  Here is a statement from the NM House Democrats:


Today, the New Mexico House of Representatives passed long-needed reforms that make the state’s tax code fairer and diversify New Mexico’s sources of revenue. The measure passed on a party-line vote of 42-27 and will head next to the Senate. 


Sponsored by Representatives Javier Martinez (D-Albuquerque), Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos), and Matthew McQueen (D-Galisteo), HB 291 expands two proven poverty-reduction programs in the state: the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) and the Low Income Comprehensive Tax Rebate (LICTR). The legislation reforms what has been a relatively flat tax structure in New Mexico, creating three new tax brackets for the state’s highest income earners. It also ends tax breaks on second homes and removes the capital gains deduction for individuals selling stocks, bonds, and businesses, while still maintaining the benefit for the sale of New Mexico small businesses.