A bill to expand the New Mexico Human Rights Act to update its language and ensure public bodies cannot discriminate against LGBTQ individuals heads to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk. HB 207, sponsored by state Sen. Carrie Hamblen, D-Las Cruces, passed the state Senate by a vote of 26-10.
The bill updates the language in the Human Rights Act, which was written in the 1970s. The updated language replaces the word “handicap” with “disability,” and updates the definition for sexual orientation and gender identity. It also ensures that public bodies, which receive public dollars, cannot discriminate against LGBTQ individuals. An individual who alleges discrimination would take their grievance to the state Human Rights Commission.
The bill to protect abortion and gender-affirming providers and patients from out-of-state entities passed the state Senate by a 26-6 vote. SB 13, would codify Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s executive order from last summer. The bill would protect both providers and patients seeking abortion care and gender-affirming healthcare from other states or individuals out of state who try to seek information about the patient or provider. State Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, D-Albuquerque, also a bill sponsor, said the bill will “ensure no one is criminalized for safe and legal healthcare.”
“It privileges certain healthcare information so patients and providers can go without fear of out-of-state criminal or civil liability,” she said. Related: First of two abortion right bills heads to Guv’s desk
Republicans argued that the bill is not constitutional, that it conflicts with both the U.S. Constitution and with the state’s constitution.
A bill to prohibit public bodies from discriminating against individuals seeking reproductive or gender-affirming healthcare passed the state Senate on a 23 to 15 vote on Tuesday after a contentious debate. HB 7, Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care, is sponsored by state Rep. Linda Serrato, D-Santa Fe. State Sen. Katy Duhigg, D-Albuquerque, who worked on the bill ahead of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, led the debate on the Senate floor. The bill generated a nearly three-hour debate over issues various Republicans have brought up previously in committee hearings: parental consent, the gender-affirming healthcare model, conscientious objections by medical providers and the definition of the term “perinatal.”
The bill prohibits public bodies and individuals acting on behalf of a public body from discriminating against individuals seeking reproductive or gender-affirming healthcare. This includes abortion.
The state Senate passed the Paid Family and Medical Leave bill that would enable employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid time off for health emergencies and certain other claims.
SB 11, sponsored primarily by Senate Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, seeks to allow an employee to take paid time off for a major health issue, to care for a family member with a major health issue, to care for a new child and in the event of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault.
The bill passed the Senate on a 23 to 15 vote. The state Department of Workforce Solutions would administer the program. Employees would pay $5 for every $1,000 of income and employers with five or more employees would pay $4 for every $1,000 of income. When taking the paid leave, the employee who makes more than minimum wage would not receive their entire salary but a percentage of it. Stewart said this creates an incentive for the employee to get healthy and get back to work as quickly as possible.
A bill to codify School-Based Health Centers, which have been serving students for 25 years, passed the state Senate chamber on Monday. SB 397 passed the state Senate 26 to 11 after lengthy debate on the floor. The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe, said it was a simple bill that did not fundamentally change how the health center currently operate. “This does nothing more than codify School-Based Health Centers. They are not statutorily protected.
A bill to provide employees with up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave passed the Senate Finance Committee by a 6 to 5 vote on Thursday. The committee held a larger hearing on Thursday to hear from members of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Task Force, which worked out the bill over the last year, before the committee heard the bill. SB 11, sponsored by Senate Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, requests $36.5 million in nonrecurring funds from the general fund over the next two years. Stewart said that the program, once it is up and running by January 1, 2026, would begin paying back the state the money and it is expected to take six years. The program would, if enacted, provide up to 12 weeks of paid time off for an employee who has a new child, is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking or has a serious medical illness or to care for a family member with a serious medical illness.
A routine budget bill to pay staff salaries and fund other operations of a legislative session usually sails through both chambers of the Legislature when lawmakers reconvene in Santa Fe every year. Not this year, though. The so-called feed bill, the first piece of legislation considered by both chambers, continued to sow division between Republicans and Democrats on Thursday over a $2.5 million special appropriation to fund a study on the feasibility of creating district offices for legislators with full-time staff. As it currently stands, New Mexico is one of only two states without full-time staff assigned to each legislator. Nevada is the other. Several Republicans said they aren’t opposed to the concept of having staffed offices in each of their districts, part of a larger effort to modernize the Legislature.
This year’s 30-day legislative session ended with a surprise. Or, more accurately, a series of bombshells. As the Legislature concluded its business at noon Thursday, House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe — considered a key architect of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing and one of its most influential players — announced he is not seeking reelection this year. That was one one of the day’s rapid-fire shockers, as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced only an hour or so later she was rescinding New Mexico’s indoor mask mandate. Though most legislators seemed wrung out by a difficult month, punctuated by a nearly daylong marathon in the House of Representatives, the session’s conclusion was anything but anticlimactic.
With just a few days to go before the end of this year’s legislative session, members of both the Senate Finance Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to approve a broad crime reform bill — though it isn’t keeping critics from lambasting Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. But rather than focus on imposing stricter laws and penalties, Senate Bill 231 targets providing stipends to recruit and retain police officers; adding more officer training programs; creating a statewide database through which state and federal law enforcement agencies can share information; and generating three additional judgeships to increase trial capacity. The bill now goes to the Senate floor for a vote.
The vote came in the same week police arrested two people, including a man with a lengthy criminal record, in the nonfatal shooting of a state police officer near Edgewood, and the random stabbings of 11 people in Albuquerque Sunday. Some lawmakers alluded to those events as they discussed the merits of SB 231 during a Monday morning joint committee hearing held on the floor of the Senate.
Initiatives included in the legislation, its supporters said, will do more to prevent crime than locking criminals up for longer periods of time. Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, said longer incarcerations are an “overly simple” approach to fighting crime, and did not deter Caleb Dustin Elledge, the suspect in the shooting of the state police officer, from committing more crimes.
“He wasn’t too concerned about serving the original sentence or an enhanced sentence,” Cervantes said of Elledge, who is from Los Lunas.
The state Senate passed the Healthy Workplaces bill 25 to 16 after a lengthy debate that stretched into the early hours of Friday during which Democrats sparred against each other on the chamber floor over the treatment of the bill’s sponsor, while Republicans railed against the bill and one even held a lengthy filibuster. HB 20 would mandate that all private sector employers provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Private sector employees could accrue up to 64 hours a year of paid sick leave. The bill would not go into effect until July 1, 2022. Advocates had pushed for mandated paid sick leave for years, including at the local level in Albuquerque.