Abortion ban repeal bill clears first hurdle Monday

Senate Bill 10, which would repeal the 1969 abortion ban on state law books, passed the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee 5-3 Monday. The vote fell along party lines with the three Republican state Senators voting against and the five Democrats on the committee voting in favor. After a two hour wait due to technical difficulties, the committee hearing ran for nearly 2.5 hours due to the length of the debate on the issue. Members of the public for both sides gave impassioned speeches both for and against. “(The bill) makes sure that women, in collaboration with their provider and families, can make decisions for themselves.

Advocates for abortion ban repeal start off first full week of New Mexico Legislature

Unlike 2019 when the New Mexico State Senate blocked repealing the 1969 abortion ban, more than half of the 2021 state Senate have signed on to cosponsor SB 10, this year’s effort. SB 10, sponsored by state Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, is a bill that will run parallel to HB 7, sponsored by state House Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena, D-Mesilla. Co-sponsor and Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D- Santa Fe, said during a press conference Monday morning held by Respect New Mexico Women, a coalition of nonprofit organizations, that 25 state senators have signed onto the bill for the 2021 Legislature. 

The Senate bill was scheduled to be heard in its first committee Monday afternoon. “This shows how far we’ve come with this legislation,” Wirth said, alluding to the 2019 repeal effort which failed when eight state Senate Democrats sided with Republicans to defeat the bill. One of those Democrats died while in office and five of the others lost to more progressive Democrats in 2020 primaries, three of whom won in the general election.

New Mexico Civil Rights bill could end qualified immunity as a civil defense

Speaker of the House Brian Egolf will introduce a bill that would amend the New Mexico Civil Rights Act. The bill would have two components. One is to allow citizens the ability to sue for compensatory damages and attorney fees against the state when their rights have been violated. Currently, while a citizen can sue if they experience a violation of their rights, they cannot receive a damage award. According to Barron Jones, senior policy strategist with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, this creates an unjust system.

Biden proposes sweeping immigration legislation on first day

The Joe Biden administration is expected to propose legislation that could forge a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, including undocumented residents in New Mexico. President Biden released a fact sheet on his first day of office detailing an immigration bill that the nonprofit organization New Mexico Dream Team calls “one of the boldest and most progressive immigration bills in our history.”

Felipe Rodriguez, co-director of New Mexico Dream Team, told NM Political Report that there are around 7,000 DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients in the state and that is “just a fraction of the immigrant population” in New Mexico. Biden’s proposal would provide an eight-year pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants who currently reside in the U.S. It would also expedite a 3-year pathway to citizenship to undocumented youth, farm workers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders who migrated from specifically designated countries involved in armed conflict or other extraordinary conditions. Another important feature of Biden’s proposed legislation is what it doesn’t include, Rodriguez said. “It’s very common for immigration bills to contain money for enforcement and border militarization,” Rodriguez said.

Bill to establish Health Care Affordability Fund expected during legislative session

A bill designed to lower insurance premiums for state residents on the New Mexico health care exchange is expected to be filed for the 2021 Legislature. The bill is a priority for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and is still being drafted, so not all the details have been worked out. But Nicolas Cordova, an attorney with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, said one of the benefits of the Health Care Affordability Fund is that it would encourage more individuals to enroll and that, in turn, could lead to insurance premiums dropping for residents who are on the exchange. The bill, if it becomes law, would apply a surtax on insurance companies of 2.75 percent. That would generate $110 million in net revenue for the state, Cordova said.

DOH: 1,434 new cases of COVID-19 and 29 deaths Thursday

The state Department of Health reported 1,434 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 29 additional deaths related to the disease. Bernalillo County had the most newly reported cases on Thursday, with 344. Doña Ana County with 166 and San Juan County with 155 were the two other counties with more than 100 cases. On Thursday, the department reported 691 individuals were hospitalized for COVID-19, a decrease of 11 people since Wednesday. This could include those from other states who are hospitalized in New Mexico, but would not include New Mexicans who are hospitalized out of state.

Legislators will again try to repeal antiquated abortion ban

With a new set of members in the state Senate, a bill to repeal the New Mexico 1969 abortion ban is expected to be filed in the upcoming New Mexico Legislature. Six Democrats who support abortion rights beat Republicans in November, in some cases after defeating anti-abortion Democrats in June’s primary, for state Senate seats, tipping the balance of power further to the left in the upper chamber. The state Senate defeated the 2019 effort to repeal the antiquated state law that bans abortion with few exceptions. Related: State Senate shifts left with progressive wins

Of the eight Democrats who sided with Republicans on the repeal vote two years ago, only two remain: state Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, and state Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas. Incoming state Senators Carrie Hamblen, Siah Correa Hemphill and Leo Jaramillo, all progressive Democrats who ran on reproductive health, defeated their incumbent Democrat opponents in the primary and then won again in November against their Republican challengers.

Supreme Court brings back restrictions on medication abortion

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday to reinstate restrictions on the a medication abortion pill that allowed patients to receive it through the mail during the pandemic. The justices ruled 7 to 2 on the decision in favor of the U.S. Federal Drug Administration. The FDA has maintained a rule that a patient must travel to a clinic to pick up the abortion pill mifepristone for the past 20 years when the drug first came onto the market. Reproductive advocates and experts have said that is politically motivated. The patient can take the pill in a place of their own choosing.

DOH: 1,033 new cases of COVID-19 and 17 deaths Sunday

The state Department of Health reported 1,033 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and 17 additional deaths related to the disease. Bernalillo County had the most newly reported cases on Sunday, with 345. Doña Ana County, with 131, was the only other county with more than 100 cases. On Sunday, the department reported 716 individuals were hospitalized for COVID-19, an increase of 54 people since Saturday. This could include those from other states who are hospitalized in New Mexico, but would not include New Mexicans who are hospitalized out of state.

DOH: 1,252 additional COVID-19 cases and 32 deaths Saturday

Hed: DOH: 1,252 additional COVID-19 cases and 32 deaths Saturday

The New Mexico Department of Health reported 1,252 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday and 32 additional deaths related to the disease. Bernalillo County had the most newly reported cases on Saturday, with 268. Three other counties had 100 or more new cases: San Juan County with 174; Doña Ana County with 117 and Eddy County with 104. On Saturday, the department reported 662 individuals were hospitalized for COVID-19, a decrease of 129 people since Friday. This could include those from other states who are hospitalized in New Mexico, but would not include New Mexicans who are hospitalized out of state.