March 15, 2021

Legislative roundup on bills that advance equity

Three bills passed the state Senate Sunday night that will, if they become law, advance equity for the LGBTQ community and people of color.

SB 213, called the panic defense bill, passed by a vote of 41 to 0 with no debate. Sponsored by state Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, the bill would prevent someone who commits a violent crime from using the victim’s sexual orientation, gender expression or identity as a legal defense in court.

State Sen. Liz Stefanics, D-Los Cerrillos, who is a co-sponsor on the bill, said she knew a man in the 1980s who was violently murdered because of his sexual orientation. The man who perpetrated the crime used the panic defense, Stefanics said.

“We don’t ever need anything like that to happen again,” Stefanics said.

State Sen. Leo Jaramillo, D-Española, said the LGBTQ community suffers from being the victims of hate crimes and police violence.

“This is continuing the effort of liberation,” Jaramillo said.

SB 316

The state Senate passed a bill that would mandate state agencies to add LGBTQ data to be collected on government forms by a vote of 29 to 6.

State Sen. Carrie Hamblen, D-Las Cruces, sponsored SB 316. It would mandate that public agencies collect data on sexual identification and gender identity.

“We can track and monitor how the LGBTQ community use services and identify barriers to this population,” Hamblen said.

SB 316 received some bipartisan support but six Republicans voted against it.

State Sen. Pat Woods, R-Broadview, asked if the questions would be voluntary. Hamblen said the people filling out the forms would voluntarily provide the information.

SB 230

The state Senate passed SB 230, which would mandate the state to address institutional racism through hiring practices, internal training and reviewing of internal policies and regulations, passed the chamber 29 to 7.

State Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, is the lead sponsor on the bill. She said some iteration of this bill has been introduced into the Legislature for nearly a decade.

“The roots of institutional racism are hidden in many different areas, hidden in our criminal justice system, our social system, the economic system, the banking industry, the media, the movie industry, the music industry, housing, in private and public employment,” she said.

There was some bipartisan support of the bill with seven Republicans voting against. There was no debate on the bill but state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo-Lopez, D-Albuquerque, spoke in support.

“This is about institutions and structures that perpetuate an oppressive system. Some don’t have the same opportunities others have,” she said.