February 15, 2023

House passes bill to allow name changes without public notification

A bill to allow individuals to change their name without putting a legal notice into the local newspaper passed the House 43 to 24.

HB 31, No Publication Required for Name Change, now heads to the Senate. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Christine Chandler, D-Albuquerque, received little debate on the House floor. It will, if enacted, protect transgender individuals and survivors of domestic violence, stalking and assault from needing to put a legal notice in a local newspaper to announce the name change.

State Rep. Stefani Lord, R-Sandia Park, took issue with the fact that a 15-year-old could change their name without notifying a parent or guardian.

Chandler said that is already in statute and has been since 1989.

State Rep. John Block, R-Alamogordo, also took issue with the fact that a child could change their name without notifying a parent or guardian and that the judge would determine, based on evidence provided, that the child’s safety was in jeopardy.

“It concerns me a 14-year-old could change their name without any parental involvement or consent. It’s a very slippery slope we’re going down. It’s bad policy,” he said.

State Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, brought up a complaint he already brought forth in committee, that if a child changes their name, their record would remain sealed unless there was a specific petition to unseal the record.

“This bill does not change current practice under current law. They can seek sealing of the record and unsealing of the record under court rule,” Chandler said.

Nibert said there are “unintended consequences” in the business community when records are sealed.

The bill was previously amended in committee to clean up some language.