Affirmative consent clears legislature

A bill that requires affirmative consent policies and procedures at all publicly funded New Mexico post-secondary institutions of higher education passed the Senate and now heads to back to the House for concurrence on its amendments. The state Senate voted 24-13 to pass HB 151. If signed by the governor, it will require all post-secondary […]

Affirmative consent clears legislature


A bill that requires affirmative consent policies and procedures at all publicly funded New Mexico post-secondary institutions of higher education passed the Senate and now heads to back to the House for concurrence on its amendments.

The state Senate voted 24-13 to pass HB 151. If signed by the governor, it will require all post-secondary institutions that receive public funds to enact affirmative consent procedures and policies; require that the colleges create links to community services to refer victims of sexual assault and that post-secondary institutions protect witnesses and victims from punishment if the student code of conduct has been broken.

State Sen. Gregg Schmedes, R-Tijeras, tried to amend the bill to add a definition to affirmative consent to say that it would not include those paid for sexual activity. The amendment failed 13-22.

Schmedes said teaching affirmative consent in publicly funded post-secondary institutions would encourage prostitution. 

“We are literally training men to objectify women and no one seems to want to talk about it at 11 o’clock at night in a bill that seems a pretty good emergency to me. This really is personal to me,” he said.

State Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, D-Albuquerque, talked about the effects rape and sexual assault can have on a woman and members of the LGBTQ community. 

“The cost of trauma is too steep to ignore,” she said.

Jaramillo called sexual assault on college campuses a “public health crisis” and said that one in ten students in college are sexually assaulted. He said that the rates are even higher for members of marginalized communities. 

Legislators brought the bill in response to the alleged sexual assault that occurred on New Mexico State University’s basketball team about a year ago. Previous iterations of the bill included an educational component to teach young people in public schools the meaning of affirmative consent – that “yes means yes and no means no” – in sexual education classes. The bill sponsors more narrowly wrote the bill this year in the hope that it would pass.

This bill also includes student training on affirmative consent policies and procedures at post-secondary institutions that are publicly funded.

A few minutes after the bill discussion began, the Senate had to stop due to a lack of a quorum.  About 20 minutes later, the bill discussion resumed when enough senators returned to create a quorum.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard the bill on Tuesday afternoon and passed it unanimously by a 5-0 vote. That committee’s chair, Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, amended the bill to remove superfluous language and proposed an amendment to clean up the language on the bill. The amendment received a due pass motion with no objections.

Update: This story was updated to reflect that the bill had to return to the House for concurrence, not that it was headed to the governor’s desk.

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