A bill to codify School-Based Health Centers into state statute passed the House floor by a 40-25 vote Wednesday night after hours of debate. SB 397, sponsored by state Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, heads to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk. The bill does not change anything about School-Based Health Centers which have already been in existence in New Mexico for the last 25 years. There are 79 School-Based Health Centers in the state and 54 of them are currently funded by the Department of Health. The bill generated considerable debate on the House floor with Republicans expressing concern over the right of young people to consent to their own healthcare.
A bill codifying School-Based Health Centers passed by a 5-3 party line vote in the House Health and Human Services Committee on Monday. SB 397, sponsored by state Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe, would codify the School-Based Health Centers that already exist in the schools and have for 25 years into state law. The bill does not change parental notification or change the way the centers are run or the services they provide. Republicans have repeatedly expressed concern about children receiving reproductive health care services at the School-Based Health Centers without parental notification. State Rep. Harlan Vincent, R-Riudoso Downs, asked if a 14-year-old receives treatment for a sexually transmitted disease, if the center notifies the parent.
The Senate Education Committee passed a bill that will make menstrual products free in public schools in New Mexico by a vote of 5 to 1 on Wednesday. Sponsored by state Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, HB 134, would require a product dispensing machine to be put into every girl’s bathroom in elementary, middle school and high school in New Mexico, including charter schools. Menstrual Products in School Bathrooms will also require one product dispensary to go in one boy’s bathroom in each school. A $1.2 million appropriation is already in HB 2, the budget bill, to make these products available to students and place the dispensing machines into the schools. Some Republicans have fought over the issue of a dispensing machine going into boy’s bathrooms. The bill was heard on the House floor earlier this week, where it passed by a vote of 42 to20.
A bill that would end gross receipts tax on diapers received bipartisan support and cleared the House Health and Human Services Committee on Monday. HB 222 seeks to eliminate gross receipts tax on infant diaper sales in New Mexico. State Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, sponsors the bill. State Rep. Joshua Hernandez, R-Rio Rancho, is also a sponsor of the bill. He said during the committee hearing that families in New Mexico are paying “$1,000 annually for this basic necessity.”
He called it a “crushing” cost and said that diapers are not covered by either Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program nor the Women, Infants and Children Program.
A bill that will help fill gaps created by reduced federal funding for sexual assault services in New Mexico passed the House Health and Human Services Committee with no opposition on Wednesday. HB 133, Recruit Sexual Assault Service Providers, will, if enacted, provide $2 million from the general fund for Fiscal Year 2024 to New Mexico to recruit and retain sexual assault service providers in New Mexico. The New Mexico Crime Victims Reparation Commission would receive the funding. Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, is the primary sponsor of the bill but Rep. Liz Thomson, also a Democrat from Albuquerque, presented the bill before the committee on Trujillo’s behalf. “This is a very simple bill,” Thomson said.
The House Education Committee unanimously passed a bill that will, if enacted, make menstrual products free in the public and charter schools in New Mexico. HB 134, sponsored by House Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, appropriates $3 million from the general fund to the New Mexico Public Education Department to provide free menstrual products in the public schools and charter schools. The funds will be recurring but the Fiscal Impact Report states that the biggest cost would be the dispensers placed in the bathrooms, rather than the products. Once schools have bought and installed the dispensers, the program might require less money over time, the report says. The FIR also says that while 20 percent of teenagers, nationally, have difficulty affording menstrual products, that number rises to 25 percent for Hispanic teenagers.
A bill that will, if enacted, appropriate $500,000 from the general fund to the board of regents of the University of New Mexico to support the operational infrastructure for the state’s human papillomavirus pap registry passed the House Health and Human Services Committee by 6 to 2 on Friday. The one-page bill, HB 136, sponsored by state Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, faced debate by some Republicans who sit on that committee on Friday morning. The registry monitors cervical cancer prevention in the state and asks for funds every year from the Legislature. The money is for operational funding to support the registry. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection.
With relatively few reproductive healthcare bills before the 2022 legislative session, only one made it through intact. HB 32, sponsored by state Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, which eliminates gross receipts tax, sometimes referred to as a sales tax, on feminine hygiene products, was grafted into HB 2, the general appropriation bill. The elimination of the GRT effectively, in layman’s terms, eliminates any sales tax to the products, which Trujillo sees in broader terms of civic engagement and political access. Trujillo said she wants to see poor and young girls to “start becoming more empowered and maybe this bill will help.”
“I want young girls to recognize that if they have that need for those necessities, they should not be shy about asking for them, and also start getting involved and engaged,” she told NM Political Report. The bill unanimously passed the House Health and Human Services Committee but the House Taxation and Revenue Committee tabled the bill. The House Taxation and Revenue Committee later amended a tax changes bill, HB 163, sponsored by Christine Chandler, D-Albuquerque, to include tax deductions for gross receipts tax for feminine hygiene products.
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.
An Albuquerque lawmaker wants the state to do more to help Hispanic students who are falling behind.
Toward that end, Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, plans to file a bill this week asking the state to appoint two assistant cabinet secretary positions for Hispanic education at both the K-12 and college levels. Among other goals, the new administrators would work on developing multicultural education materials and curriculum, plus hiring bilingual teachers to best meet the needs of Hispanic students.
Trujillo, who asked the Legislative Education Study Committee to endorse her bill heading into the 2021 legislative session, said Monday it’s an update of a legislative proposal pitched by former Rep. Rick Miera, the onetime head of the House Education Committee, some 10 years ago.
She said her bill is directly tied to the Yazzie/Martinez v. State of New Mexico court case, in which a number of plaintiffs sued the state, contending it was not providing enough resources to offer a quality education for certain groups of students, including Hispanic children.
A state district judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and ordered the state to find ways to meet the needs of those students.
“This bill institutes what the judge wanted in terms of supporting children of color — in this case, Hispanic students,” Trujillo said Monday.
Traditionally, Hispanic students have lagged behind their white counterparts. State data from 2019 shows just 30 percent of New Mexico’s Hispanic students were proficient in reading, compared to 48 percent of white students. In math, the differences are even more stark, with just 16 percent of Hispanic students reaching proficiency levels, compared to 34 percent of whites.
Her bill includes a number of components to support Hispanic students in both public schools and colleges, including working out a five-year strategic plan to improve student enrollment and achievement at the college level. Rep. Derrick Lente, D-Sandia Pueblo and a member of the committee, said he supports Trujillo’s bill.