March 7, 2021

Bill to amend the New Mexico Human Rights Act passes House

The New Mexico State Capitol, or Roundhouse Wikicommons.

A bill that would amend the New Mexico Human Rights Act to include public agencies passed the House 52 to 14.

HB 192, sponsored by Rep. Brittany Barreras, D-Albuquerque, had a quick debate during the Saturday House floor session. The bill would amend the state’s Human Rights Act to clarify that public bodies and state agencies are subject to its provisions prohibiting discrimination because of race, age, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, childbirth, physical or mental disability, serious medical condition or spousal affiliation.

The bill would also modernize the language for individuals with disabilities in the New Mexico Civil Rights Act, Barreras said.

Rep. Randall Crowder, R-Clovis, asked about potential additional costs to the state if the bill passes. Barreras said that in the last 40 years there have been 10 cases regarding such discrimination cases and that amending the New Mexico Human Rights Act to include public bodies and state agencies would mean that cases would go before the New Mexico Human Rights Commission instead of the courts.

“So we see costs coming down,” Barreras said.

Rep. Gail Chasey, a Democrat from Albuquerque, said that she was the lead sponsor on the bill that amended the New Mexico Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in 2003.

“None of us who advocated for that bill in 2003 realized this wasn’t covered. What you’re doing is clarifying,” she said.

 Chasey said the amendment could reduce liabilities to the state.