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Historic New Mexico Civil Rights Act Headed to Senate Floor

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  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. 

 New Mexico’s Bill of Rights protects New Mexicans’ freedom to the rights of life and liberty, safety and happiness, free elections, freedom of religion, speech and press, equal rights for men and women, and victims’ rights. But currently, victims who have these rights violated have no path to justice in state court. The New Mexico Civil Rights Act simply creates that avenue.  

 

“New Mexicans deserve their day in court if their civil rights are violated regardless of race or background,” said Rep. Georgene Louis.  “Through this committee process, I believe we are fine-tuning a bill that takes into account the needs of stakeholders while we hold to account the systems that continue to perpetuate civil rights violations of our state’s diverse communities.”  

 

“We are one step closer to giving the people of New Mexico a meaningful way to vindicate their rights under the New Mexico Bill of Rights,” said Speaker of the House Brian Egolf.  “At every step of the way, we have worked to make sure that the New Mexico Civil Rights Act will be available to make New Mexicans’ access to justice in state court a reality.” 

 

After listening to the valid concerns of stakeholders, the latest version of House Bill 4 clarifies that no individual teacher, law enforcement officer, or other public employee can be sued, holding government agencies solely accountable. The bill also places a $2 million cap, including attorney’s fees, on judgements under the Act, providing cities, counties and other entities with financial predictability and allowing them to obtain insurance. The bill was amended today to remove acequias, land grants, and other small units of government from the definition of a public body. 

 

Members of the public can track legislation on the New Mexico Legislature website, access committee meetings and House floor sessions via the Webcasts tab, or participate by Zoom to provide public comment on committee hearings. During the 2021 Legislative Session, the House of Representatives is focused on passing critical legislation while protecting the health and safety of the public, the staff, and the legislators.