February 27, 2020

Governor signs senior dignity fund into law

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signing the Kiki Saavedra Senior Dignity Fun into law.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed three bills into law Tuesday, including legislation aimed at improving services for seniors as a growing elderly population and rising costs have made it more difficult for New Mexico to meet needs. 

House Bill 225 sets up the Kiki Saavedra Senior Dignity Fund, which is named after a longtime state representative from Albuquerque. It will help address services like transportation, food insecurity, physical and behavioral health, case management and caregiving.

The law, which goes into effect May 20, is designed to help New Mexico boost services, given the state is expected to have the fourth-largest senior population in the U.S. by 2030.

The governor’s original proposal called for $25 million for the fund, but the budget bill passed by the Legislature only appropriated $7.3 million. The Aging and Long-Term Services Department will be able to request a maximum of $3 million in the fund’s first year, the agency said.

“It is well past time that New Mexico steps up for its seniors, supporting their independence and providing for their needs,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement.

The governor also signed the New Mexico Work and Save Act, which will provide access to a voluntary savings program for privately employed and self-employed workers who do not have retirement accounts related to their employers.

House Bill 44 also sets up a web-based marketplace where employers can offer retirement savings plans. Workers can open new accounts in January 2022.

Additionally, the governor signed House Bill 30, which aims to speed up the ability of military families and recent veterans to get professional and occupational licenses when they move to New Mexico.

Military family members and recent veterans will be able to get licenses within 30 to 60 days if they have a current license from another jurisdiction and meet minimal licensing requirements. The law also waives licensing fees for the first three years.

“Most military families move every two to three years, and some even more frequently. That makes it harder for a military spouse to build a career — or even find a job,” Lujan Grisham said. “I am committed to removing barriers for these dedicated service members, veterans and their families wherever and whenever I can.”