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.

Senate passes bill to cap rates on small loans

Mar 3, 2021
State Senator Bill Soules

LAS CRUCES - Legislation to set a 36 percent annual percentage rate cap on small loans passed the New Mexico Senate on a 25-14 vote Tuesday, March 2, following a debate in which both supporters and opponents of the bill claimed to be on the side of the poor.

“Predatory loans harm families and push people into poverty,” said Sen. Bill Soules, D-Las Cruces, sponsor of Senate Bill 66. “They prey on people on the margins and they weaken the foundations of strong communities.”

“You don’t understand how the world really works,” Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, shot back.

Mini filibuster stalls debate on health collections bill

Mar 3, 2021
Jacob Candelaria (D-Albuquerque)

LAS CRUCES - Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, put the brakes on debate over a bill to provide protection from medical debt collection with the New Mexico Legislature’s version of a filibuster on Monday, March 1.

Candelaria issued a Call of the Senate, which requires all members to be present before debate can continue. In a normal year, the sergeant at arms would then try to locate all the members, who were usually still in the building. One year, the state police were called out to roust a member who was well into a deep, drunken sleep. A hotel room window was broken out in the process of dragging him to the Roundhouse.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico legislature is exploring two different ways to make sure kids spend more time in class next year, in an effort to help students catch up from the loss of learning during the pandemic.

Democrats in the Senate have advanced a bill that would require all schools to tap into an existing $200 million fund to extend the school calendar next year. The one-year mandate would only take effect if the governor's current in-person learning restrictions are lifted.

Senate passes bill to ease criminal fines

Mar 2, 2021
Senator Gregory A. Baca - (R) - Minority Floor Leader

LAS CRUCES - Legislation that would make it easier for low-income defendants to pay court fees and fines passed the New Mexico Senate on a 25-15 vote Monday, March 1, over the objections of Republicans who argued that it would make it easier on criminals.

“It isn’t about the fees or the fines, this is about actual punishment,” said Minority Leader Sen. Greg Baca, R-Rio Rancho. “If you do something wrong, you’re supposed to have some kind of punishment attached to that.

“The only time we in this building decide to save money is when it comes to incarcerating people or issuing some kind of punishment,” Baca said. “When we do things wrong in our society, it’s supposed to be an inconvenience.”

House passes bill to limit school suspensions

Mar 2, 2021

LAS CRUCES - Legislation to limit the use of expulsion and out-of-school suspensions in disciplining school children passed the House on a 54-12 vote Monday, March 1, and now moves to the Senate.

House Bill 93 would require school districts to ensure that expulsion or suspension is only used as a last resort after a process that takes into consideration the student’s living conditions outside of school and determines that suspension or expulsion is the only safe response.

New Mexico Governor gets early start on bill signing

Mar 1, 2021
Office of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

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.

In Depth: New Mexico House passes cannabis bill over to Senate

Mar 1, 2021
Rep. Damon Ely

LAS CRUCES - “It being exactly 4:20 (p.m.), we go to House Bill 12,” Rep. Daymon Ely, D-Corrales, quipped Friday, Feb. 26, to begin the debate over legalization of marijuana.

Hours later, the New Mexico House of Representatives passed marijuana legalization for the second consecutive time in a 60-day session. HB 12 passed on a 39-31 vote Friday, a wider margin than the two-vote victory in 2019.

It now moves to the Senate, which will have more than three weeks left in the session to consider the bill. The 2019 bill reached the Senate Finance Committee with two days left in the session, but never made it to a vote of the full Senate.

Right to Earned Sick Leave Passes House

Mar 1, 2021


   Santa Fe, N.M. – Legislation guaranteeing earned sick leave for New Mexican workers passed the House of Representatives 36-33 today and will now head to the Senate for consideration. Here is a statement from the NM House Democrats:

House Bill 20: The Healthy Workplaces Act is sponsored by Rep. Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos)Rep. Angelica Rubio (D-Las Cruces)Senate President Pro Tempore Mimi Stewart (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Daymon Ely (D-Corrales) and Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero (D-Albuquerque)

“We’ve tragically lost 3,700 New Mexicans to COVID-19, yet half of our state’s workforce can’t afford to take time off when they’re sick or infected,” said Rep. Chandler. “Until all of our workers can access paid sick days that allows them to care for themselves or family members without compromising their financial security, COVID-19 and other illnesses will continue to spread through our workplaces.” 

Rep. Brian Egolf

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Attorneys for New Mexico House Speaker Brian Egolf have asked the State Ethics Commission to dismiss a complaint that a retired judge filed against the Santa Fe Democrat over his sponsoring legislation potentially helping his law practice. The complaint filed by Aztec resident Sandra Price accuses of Egolf of sponsoring legislation that would financially benefit his legal practice without disclosing the conflict of interest. Egolf is a co-sponsor of pending legislation to open the way for civil rights lawsuits to be filed in state district court against state and local public officials. The dismissal motion filed Friday by Egolf’s attorneys called the complaint frivolous and unsubstantiated.

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Several proposals to legalize marijuana are competing for support in the New Mexico state Senate with three weeks left to send a bill to the governor. There's widespread support among lawmakers for creating a taxed and regulated market for recreational sales. Efforts to legalize marijuana took center stage Saturday as a Senate panel grappled with how the state might effectively stamp out illicit marijuana, prevent child access and foster a competitive marketplace and job growth. The debate marked a tantalizing moment for proponents of marijuana legalization after voters last year ousted hardline opponents in the Legislature. A Republican legalization proposal is shifting discussions toward an emphasis workplace safety and low-taxes that stamp out the black market.

Cannabis Legalization Passes the New Mexico House

Feb 27, 2021

  Santa Fe, N.M. – Legislation establishing the legal and regulated use and sale of cannabis in New Mexico passed the House today with a 39-31 vote. It will now be heard in the Senate. Here is a statement from the NM House Democrats:


Sponsored by Rep. Javier Martínez (D-Albuquerque)Rep. Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe), Rep. Deborah Armstrong (D-Albuquerque), and Rep. Kristina Ortez (D-Taos), House Bill 12: the Cannabis Regulation Act legalizes and regulates the use, production, and sale of cannabis and cannabis products for adults 21 years and older. The bill implements a responsible, tightly regulated system imposing an 8% excise tax on all cannabis sales and establishes guidelines for licensure that prioritize diversity and equal opportunity.  

Office of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed a bill to shore up abortion rights in New Mexico. The legislation was signed Friday after previously winning final approval from the Democratic-led Legislature. It overturns a dormant 1969 ban on most abortion procedures and marks a defiant counterpoint to efforts in some conservative states. Had the old statute been left in place, New Mexico’s ban on most abortion procedures would have gone into effect if the U.S. Supreme Court eventually overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling. In signing the bill, the governor said a woman has the right to make decisions about her own body.

Office of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday signed House Bill 11 into law, delivering $200 million in grants to support New Mexico businesses to ease the hiring or rehiring of employees.  Here is a statement from the Governor's office:

“New Mexico will continue to get meaningful financial assistance out the door to businesses all across the state,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “Our economy will bounce back. And businesses will get back on their feet.”

“We are grateful to Governor Lujan Grisham for her support on House Bill 11, and for all of her leadership throughout this challenging year,” said Speaker of the House Brian Egolf. “We convened the 2021 session knowing that getting economic relief into local economies was the most critical action that we would take as lawmakers. Now we are continuing our work on subsequent bills. Help is on the way.”

House votes to move Gila funds from CAP Entity

Feb 26, 2021

LAS CRUCES - Legislation that would end a debate raging since 2004 over the proposed diversion of the Gila River passed on a 43-24 vote Thursday, Feb. 25, in the New Mexico House of Representatives and now moves to the state Senate.

House Bill 200 would transfer authority over funds remaining from the Arizona Water Settlements Act of 2004 from the New Mexico Central Arizona Project (CAP) Entity to the state Water Trust Board (WTB). The $80 million remaining from the original federal allocation would be used for water projects in Grant, Catron, Hidalgo and Luna counties, but not for water diversion projects.

Small business loan bill goes to governor

Feb 26, 2021

LAS CRUCES - The New Mexico House of Representatives gave final approval Thursday, Feb. 25, to legislation to make low-interest loans available to more small businesses in the state that were harmed by public health restrictions imposed to combat the pandemic.

Senate Bill 3 would make changes to legislation passed during a special session last June. That bill made $450 million available for loans, but only about $40 million of that had been tapped into. The new bill will loosen restrictions, making the loans available to far more businesses.

Marijuana bill clears final House committee

Feb 25, 2021

LAS CRUCES - Legislation to legalize marijuana passed the New Mexico House Taxation and Revenue Committee on an 8-4 vote Wednesday, Feb. 24, and now advances to a final vote on the House floor.

House Bill 12 establishes the framework for a commercialized marijuana industry in New Mexico. The bill would legalize sales to those age 21 and older and establish the Cannabis Control Division to handle regulation, licensing and fee collections. It would also oversee the existing medical marijuana program, as well as new cannabis education and training programs.

House passes budget with minimal opposition

Feb 25, 2021
Rep. Patricia Lundstrom

LAS CRUCES - The New Mexico House passed a $7.39 billion budget Wednesday, Feb. 24, that would increase spending by 4.6 percent, with much of that going to schools, health care and state employees.

After moving through the House Finance and Appropriations Committee on a unanimous vote, House Bill 2 passed the House on a 60-10 vote. Republicans who opposed the bill questioned some of the increases, but praised the process led by Committee Chair Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup.

Vital Rural Infrastructure Bill Passes New Mexico House

Feb 24, 2021

  Santa Fe, N.M. – A critical measure facilitating rural infrastructure projects passed the New Mexico House of Representative today, and will now advance to the Senate. Here is a statement from the NM House Democrats:


Sponsored by Rep. Anthony Allison (D-Fruitland) and Rep. Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos), the House Judiciary Committee substitute for House Joint Resolution 9 proposes a constitutional amendment allowing an exception to the state’s anti-donation clause for basic infrastructure projects, including internet, water, wastewater services, natural gas, and electricity. 

New Mexico COVID-19 Relief Bill Headed to Governor’s Desk

Feb 24, 2021

  Santa Fe, N.M. – COVID-19 tax relief for local restaurants and bars, as well as working New Mexicans, is on its way to the Governor’s desk after passing the House of Representatives today. Here is a statement from the NM House Democrats:


Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe)Senator Jacob Candelaria (D-Albuquerque)Senator Siah Correa Hemphill (D-Silver City), and Representative Javier Martínez (D-Albuquerque), Senate Bill 1 provides a four-month tax holiday for food and beverage establishments. It also creates a $600 tax credit for individuals who earn $31,200 or less, and heads of household, surviving spouses or those married filing jointly who earn up to $39,000. 

Wildlife management overhaul stalls on tie vote

Feb 24, 2021
State Senator Bill Soules


  LAS CRUCES - Legislation to dramatically overhaul wildlife management in New Mexico proved to be too big not to fail.

Senate Bill 312, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Steinborn and Rep. Nathan Small, both D-Las Cruces, failed to get out of the Senate Conservation Committee on a 6-6 tie vote Tuesday, Feb. 23. Committee members on both sides of the vote said there were parts of the bill they liked, and parts they didn’t like.

“I hate bills like this,” said Sen. Bill Soules, D-Las Cruces. “I don’t think we get the best laws, instead of debating these as individual issues.” 

New Mexico State Budget Passes House, Goes to Senate

Feb 24, 2021

  Santa Fe, N.M. - The next budget for the state of New Mexico is now in the hands of the Senate, after passage by the House.  Here is a statement from the NM House Democrats, with highlights of the plan:


Today, the state’s budget or House Bill 2, a bill that prioritizes New Mexico’s economic relief and provides a framework for recovery, passed the House of Representatives.


The General Appropriations Act of 2021 is a reflection of the legislature’s priorities, making appropriations for economic relief programs and responsibly continuing the state’s investments in education, public safety, health, infrastructure, and long-term economic development. HB 2 appropriates $7.39 billion for Fiscal Year 2022, an increase of 4.6%, or $332 million over FY 2021. It puts the state’s cash reserve balance at $1.76 billion, or 24% of current expenditures. About half of the increase is replacing federal stimulus funds “swapped” in the FY 21 budget.  

Las Cruces Bulletin - Richard Coltharp

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republican lawmakers in New Mexico have asked that the state remove protective barriers erected around the state Capitol following the Jan. 6 insurrection during which supporters of former President Donald Trump broke into the U.S. Capitol building.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico lawmakers are pushing for increased state spending on public education, health care and relief to businesses in a debate on the floor of the House of Representatives.

The Democrat-led House opened deliberations Wednesday on a $7.39 billion general fund spending plan for the fiscal year that begins on July 1.

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The state House of Representatives has endorsed a bill aimed at energizing the hospitality industry in rural New Mexico by relaxing state restriction on liquor sales. On a 41-27 vote, the House approved a bill that would expand tasting to distilleries and broaden restaurant liquor licenses to include not only beer and wine but also spirits with a 10 p.m. cutoff. Amid concerns about economic stagnation, legislators are wrestling with how to modernize a closely guarded monopoly on licenses for packaged liquor sales. The proposed legislation offers a $200,000 tax deduction over a four year period to liquor license holders and waives future annual license fees.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Legislation that would have overhauled New Mexico’s wildlife management agency has stalled in a Senate committee.

After a three-hour debate, the sweeping measure was tabled Tuesday after lawmakers raised questions about the changes proposed in the 241-page bill.

House passes bill to toughen human trafficking laws

Feb 23, 2021
Rep. Liz Thomson

LAS CRUCES - Legislation to toughen penalties for the perpetrators and provide protection for the victims of human trafficking passed on a 63-3 vote Monday, Feb. 22, in the state House of Representatives.

House Bill 56 would change the crime of human trafficking from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony if the person being trafficked is age 18 or older or a first-degree felony if they are younger than 18. It would also ensure that victims forced into prostitution could not be charged with a crime.

Budget bill ready for House floor vote

Feb 23, 2021
Rep. Patricia Lundstrom

LAS CRUCES - The New Mexico House Appropriations and Finance Committee has completed work on a $7.39 billion budget for fiscal year 2022, passing it out of committee on a unanimous vote Monday, Feb. 22.

House Bill 2 increases spending by 4.6 percent over the previous year. About half of that increase would go toward replacing federal stimulus funds swapped in this year’s budget. Even with the spending increase, officials project they will have 24 percent in reserves.

Senate passes bill to remove wage cap for students

Feb 22, 2021

LAS CRUCES - The New Mexico Senate has voted to remove a provision in the state’s minimum wage law that allows high school students to be paid at a lower hourly rate than their co-workers.

Senate Bill 35 passed on a 26-15 vote in the Senate on Thursday, Feb. 18, and now moves to the House. It is one of several bills dealing with the minimum wage that have been introduced this session.

The Minimum Wage Act passed in 2019 called for an increase to $10.50 an hour at the start of this year, then going up to $12 in 2023. However, it included a cap at $8.50 for high school students. HB 35 would remove the cap.

Small business relief bill on way to governor

Feb 22, 2021

LAS CRUCES - Legislation to provide $200 million in grants to New Mexico small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic cleared the Senate on a 41-1 vote Friday, Feb. 19, for final passage. Pat Woods, R-Broadview, cast the one “no” vote.

Businesses can qualify for up to $100,000, distributed in four quarterly payments. The program will be managed by the New Mexico Finance Authority. To qualify, businesses must have fewer than 75 employees and be able to demonstrate a loss for at least one quarter during the pandemic.


  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A bill to shore up abortion rights in New Mexico by overturning a dormant 1969 ban on most abortion procedures has been approved by the Democrat-led Legislature. The state House passed the bill Friday and sent it to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who has said she will sign it. The initiative stands as a counterpoint to proposed abortion bans this year in several Republican-led legislatures. If left in place, New Mexico’s ban on most abortion procedures could go into effect if the U.S. Supreme Court eventually overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.