What passed, what failed in the legislative session

Here’s what happened with notable legislation during the 30-day session that ended Thursday. Budget: Lawmakers got the job done with about a day to spare. They approved a nearly $8.5 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2023 — a 14 percent increase over the current fiscal year, with raises for all state workers, including teachers, […]

What passed, what failed in the legislative session

Here’s what happened with notable legislation during the 30-day session that ended Thursday.

Budget: Lawmakers got the job done with about a day to spare. They approved a nearly $8.5 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2023 — a 14 percent increase over the current fiscal year, with raises for all state workers, including teachers, state police officers and judges. The budget also includes funding to increase the minimum wage for state workers to $15 an hour.

Tax cuts: House Bill 163 made a late dash across the finish line. The bill exempts Social Security income from the state’s personal income tax and reduces New Mexico’s gross receipts tax rate by 0.025 percent over two years — priorities of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. It also includes tax rebates of up to $500, a child tax credit and tax exemptions for military veterans and nurses who work at least 30 hours in hospitals.

Education: Lawmakers gave unanimous approval to Senate Bill 1, which would increase the minimum pay at each level of the state’s three-tiered teacher licensing system by $10,000. That means starting teachers will see their pay rise to $50,000 from $40,000. The measure is aimed at addressing a crisis-level teacher shortage.

Though it wasn’t unanimous, Senate Bill 140, which would expand eligibility for the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship, also cleared both chambers with bipartisan support. The scholarship provides full coverage of tuition and fees for New Mexico students attending in-state colleges and universities.

Native American language and culture teachers would earn the same salary as educators in the middle level of the state’s three-tier licensing system under House Bill 60, which won unanimous approval from both chambers.

Crime: Lawmakers approved a sweeping crime bill that includes stiffer penalties for violent offenders and recruitment and retention stipends for police officers. House Bill 68 also removes a statute of limitations on second-degree murder charges, creates the crime of operating a chop shop and makes it a fourth-degree felony to threaten a judge or a judge’s family.

The governor had pushed for a measure to alter the state’s pretrial detention process, putting the burden on defendants to prove they pose no further risk of violence if they are released until trial. That measure failed to gain traction.

Senate Democrats passed a contentious proposal to ban life without the possibility of parole as a sentencing option for juveniles convicted of first-degree murder. But Senate Bill 43, which critics countered ran afoul of the governor’s tough-on-crime agenda, pulled the legislation from consideration amid pushback from some district attorneys.

House Bill 9, the Bennie Hargrove Gun Safety Act, which would have held gun owners liable if a child gained access to their weapon, stalled in a House committee.

Both chambers unanimously approved Senate Bill 13, which would create the position of a missing Indigenous persons specialist in the Attorney General’s Office who would work with law enforcement on such cases. A companion bill, Senate Bill 12, which creates a Missing in New Mexico event to support residents who have missing relatives, also received unanimous support.

The opioid fentanyl has become a leading killer of adults. Lawmakers proposing House Bill 52 — another winner — advocated to prevent this by decriminalizing the use and possession of test strips used to determine whether the drug is lurking in other substances.

Voting rights: A broad voting rights’ bill that aimed to expand voter access to the polls was a key priority for Lujan Grisham and Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. Despite several changes to the measure, Senate Bill 144 failed in the final hours. Sen. Bill Sharer, R-Farmington, prevented a vote on the Senate floor via a one-man filibuster. 

Hydrogen hub: Lujan Grisham championed a bill to turn New Mexico into a hub of hydrogen production. An initial bill creating a framework and incentives for the new industry was blocked — along with several subsequent attempts — by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Proponents said it would create jobs and boost the economy, but critics countered it would increase emissions amid a climate crisis.

Cannabis: Senate Bill 100 would have altered the Cannabis Regulation Act approved last year, in part increasing the number of plants a micro producer could grow. But an amendment stripping a requirement for cannabis producers and manufacturers to obtain water rights spurred controversy. Water rights activists cried foul as the bill staggered into the House Judiciary Committee, where it never received a hearing. 

Environment: The House and Senate unanimously approved House Bill 164, which requires the state Environment Department to coordinate a statewide effort to clean up and reclaim legacy uranium mine and mill sites.

Over the objection of Republicans, the Senate signed off on a bill to create a statewide clean fuel standard in New Mexico. But Senate Bill 14, designed to reduce the state’s carbon footprint by going after greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, died in the House early Thursday morning on a tight 33-33 vote.

The Clean Future Act also had a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation, House Bill 6, survived two committees but never received a vote on the House floor. Similarly, a proposed constitutional amendment providing New Mexico residents with the right to clean and healthy air, water and soil did not get a floor vote.

A bill that would have prohibited the storage of spent nuclear fuel in the state, in response to plans for development of such a site in Southern New Mexico, didn’t get off the ground. Senate Bill 54 was heard by one committee that moved it forward without a endorsement.

Health care: House Bill 91, which streamlines the process for licensed out-of-state health care workers — including nurses — to obtain a license in New Mexico, was approved unanimously in both chambers.

Redistricting: House Joint Resolution 9, a proposed constitutional amendment that would have removed the New Mexico Legislature from the controversial process of drawing new election districts for legislative and congressional seats, made it only through one committee.

Predatory lending: After efforts in previous sessions failed, lawmakers approved a bill to cap interest rates on short-term loans. House Bill 132 will reduce the maximum annual interest rate on installment loans from 175 percent to 36 percent.

Land grants: A measure that will distribute a small percentage of state gross receipts tax revenue to eligible land grants passed both chambers with little opposition. House Bill 8 creates the land grant-merced assistance fund to be administered by the Department of Finance and Administration.

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Legislators pass disaster assistance funding, end special session quickly

Legislators pass disaster assistance funding, end special session quickly

The two issues passed were only a fraction of what Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham had on her special session agenda.
House votes to pass bill for fire relief, behavioral health treatments

House votes to pass bill for fire relief, behavioral health treatments

The House voted overwhelmingly to pass HB 1, the appropriations bill that provides funding for the special session, fire relief and behavioral health court…
Senate Democrats criticize bills and process, GOP introduces bills

Senate Democrats criticize bills and process, GOP introduces bills

The special session began with Democrats criticizing Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s agenda and Republicans applauding it, while Senators introduced 16 pieces of legislation. The…
Downwinders continue to seek justice 79 years after the Trinity Test

Downwinders continue to seek justice 79 years after the Trinity Test

For most of his life, Paul Pino believed his community had dodged the bullet when it came to nuclear fallout. It wasn’t until he’d…
Fight continues over San Juan Generating Station replacement resources

Fight continues over San Juan Generating Station replacement resources

As the San Juan Generating Station closed in 2022, the Central Consolidated School District noted a significant increase in homelessness among its students. At…
Group says WQCC member has conflicts of interest

Group says WQCC member has conflicts of interest

New Energy Economy and other environmental advocates renewed a call for a member of the Water Quality Control Commission to recuse herself from hearing…
Stansbury outlines funding secured for early childhood and youth services programs

Stansbury outlines funding secured for early childhood and youth services programs

U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury secured $8.3 million for childhood development and youth services in the 1st congressional district through federal community project funding. Stansbury,…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Some mental health issues on the rise in New Mexico

Some mental health issues on the rise in New Mexico

A recent report by KFF, a foundation that provides health policy analysis, found mental health issues on the rise and disparities in mental health…
Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf answered questions about the safety of human milk formula and mifepristone on Wednesday. Sen. Martin…
Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Amy Maxmen, KFF Health News Four years after hospitals in New York City overflowed with covid-19 patients, emergency physician Sonya Stokes remains shaken by…
Heinrich files amendment to protect reproductive rights for the military

Heinrich files amendment to protect reproductive rights for the military

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich filed an amendment on Tuesday to codify a rule protecting veteran access to abortion in the case of rape, incest…
Supreme Court upends environmental and reproductive rights protections

Supreme Court upends environmental and reproductive rights protections

Two years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the high court overturned another long-standing precedent on Friday that could undue both…
Supreme Court dismisses abortion case, advocates say it keeps legal questions open

Supreme Court dismisses abortion case, advocates say it keeps legal questions open

The Supreme Court punted on Thursday on a second abortion decision it heard this term, leaving open the question of whether a federal law…
Supreme Court upends environmental and reproductive rights protections

Supreme Court upends environmental and reproductive rights protections

Two years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the high court overturned another long-standing precedent on Friday that could undue both…
Supreme Court dismisses abortion case, advocates say it keeps legal questions open

Supreme Court dismisses abortion case, advocates say it keeps legal questions open

The Supreme Court punted on Thursday on a second abortion decision it heard this term, leaving open the question of whether a federal law…
Biden will protect reproductive access, Health Secretary says during a multi-state reproductive access tour 

Biden will protect reproductive access, Health Secretary says during a multi-state reproductive access tour 

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said at a Planned Parenthood space for LGBTQ youth in Albuquerque that if President Joe Biden…
Politics Newsletter: Should Biden stay or should he go?

Politics Newsletter: Should Biden stay or should he go?

Note: This newsletter was written prior to the attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump on Saturday. Hello fellow political junkies! While most people…
NM delegation votes against bill they say will disenfranchise voters

NM delegation votes against bill they say will disenfranchise voters

The House passed a bill that opponents of the bill, including all three members of New Mexico’s delegation, say would suppress voting. The Safeguard…
Leger Fernàndez votes against voter ID bill

Leger Fernàndez votes against voter ID bill

The Safeguard American Voter Eligibility Act seeks to require proof of United States citizenship to register to vote in federal elections, but opponents say…
Heinrich, Vasquez call on Biden to withdraw from campaign

Heinrich, Vasquez call on Biden to withdraw from campaign

The U.S. Senator and congressman each said Joe Biden should step aside for a new candidate. Meanwhile, another of the state's representatives backed Biden.
Legislators pass disaster assistance funding, end special session quickly

Legislators pass disaster assistance funding, end special session quickly

The two issues passed were only a fraction of what Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham had on her special session agenda.
Special session to start, despite legislative opposition

Special session to start, despite legislative opposition

“We’re asking lawmakers to do right by New Mexico, to do right by all of our cities and counties and to create the kind…

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report