Abortion provider protection bill passes Senate Judiciary Committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would protect providers and patients from out-of-state entities seeking information to harass or penalize for abortion by a vote of 7-to-1 Monday night. SB 13, Reproductive Healthcare Provider Protections, is sponsored by state Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque. The bill would provide protections to abortion care providers and to patients from entities outside of the state trying to subpoena information or harass providers or patients involved in abortion care in New Mexico. The bill cosponsor, state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, D-Albuquerque, brought a committee substitute for the bill which removed redundancies and brought clarifications around intentionality in the bill. The bill seeks to codify Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s executive order put in place last year that currently protects abortion providers and patients seeking abortion from interference from out-of-state entities, a concern that increased after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and states across the country began passing anti-abortion laws. 

“This puts into law the policy we have that every person who receives reproductive healthcare and gender-affirming care can do so safely and free from harassment and that other states do not interfere,” Sedillo Lopez said.

Reproductive and gender-affirming healthcare bill heads to Senate floor next

The state Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill to protection abortion and gender-affirming health care rights by a 6-to-3 party line vote after a tense tie-breaking vote to amend the bill on Saturday. HB 7 is sponsored by state Rep. Linda Serrato, D-Santa Fe. She said the bill “ensures we’re not adding fear so that people don’t seek life-saving healthcare.”

“It prohibits public bodies from discriminating against individuals seeking reproductive or gender-affirming healthcare,” she said. The bill prevents public bodies, such as municipalities and counties, from passing or enforcing anti-abortion ordinances. Clovis, Hobbs, Lea and Roosevelt counties have passed such ordinances in recent months.

STI prevention bill heads to House

The Senate passed a bill to help prevent and reduce sexually transmitted iInfections on Monday on a 26-13 vote. SB 132, STI Prevention and Treatment, was amended by the bill’s sponsor, Senate Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, to clean up bill language to ensure that individuals who have insurance and receive plan sharing before meeting their deductible. The amendment passed unanimously by voice vote. The bill will, if enacted, eliminate copays for STI screenings and treatment. Stewart said there has been an increase both statewide and nationally in sexually transmitted infection.  By eliminating co-pays, Stewart said more people are likely to get tested and get treatment.

Bill to end gag on ethics complainants clears committee

The Senate Rules Committee passed a bill that will, if enacted, allow a complainant who files an ethics complaint to speak publicly by a vote of 9-1 on Friday. HB 169, Disclosure of Legislative Ethics Complaints, would fix a constitutional issue in a law enacted in 1993, bill sponsor state Rep. Reena Szczepanski, D-Santa Fe, said. The current law prohibits both the complainant and committee staff from speaking publicly about a complaint even though the respondent to a complaint can speak publicly, she said. Szcepanski said the current law has “an uneven requirement,” and that passing HB 169 would make the law more equitable and restore the complainant’s constitutional right to free speech. The bill generated a discussion around the constitutional right to free speech.

A bill that would end life sentencing for children in New Mexico heads to Senate floor

A bill that would end life sentencing for children who are sentenced as adults for violent crimes passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday. SB 64, No Life Sentence for Juveniles, is sponsored by state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, D-Albuquerque. She said the bill this year is different from previous versions. It would end life without parole as a sentencing potential and create early parole eligibility for long sentencing. “It brings New Mexico in line with national best practices and what every parent knows.

Ivey-Soto steps down from Rules committee chairmanship

State Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto stepped down from his position as the chair of a powerful Senate committee amid a scandal involving alleged sexual harassment. The Albuquerque Democrat chaired the Senate Rules Committee, which holds hearings for confirmations and is the first stop for proposed constitutional amendments, but announced he would leave the position in a letter to Senate leadership. Ivey-Soto will remain in his position as state senator. His term runs through the end of 2024. Ivey-Soto was accused of sexual harassment by a progressive lobbyist earlier this year, followed by similarly allegations from more women.

Lobbyist accuses Dem senator of sexual harassment, calls for his removal

A New Mexico lobbyist and policy advocate in an open letter issued on Tuesday accused a Democratic state senator of sexual assault and harassment and has called for him to resign from the Legislature. 

Marianna Anaya, who lobbied during the 2022 legislative session, including for a voting coalition made up of a number of organizations*, issued an open letter detailing instances where she said she received unwanted sexual comments and advances from Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque.  

“Over the last eight years, my advocacy work has focused on helping individuals and families gain access to what they need – from better working conditions and quality education to access to healthcare and expanded voting rights,” Anaya wrote. “Over the years, I have collaborated with legislators who share these values and honor their positions by doing good work for the people of our community. Unfortunately, several of my interactions with you have made it clear that you do not respect the authority you have as a legislator, but rather, abuse the position.”

According to Anaya’s letter, her first concerning encounter with Ivey-Soto was in 2015 when Anaya worked for then-congresswoman and current Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Anaya wrote that she and Ivey-Soto were separately attending a reception hosted by the National Education Association. When she and Ivey-Soto were alone at a cocktail table, Anaya said, Ivey-Soto allegedly “slid [his] hand across [her] side and disgustingly groped and pinched [her] buttocks.”

“I did not know what to do or what to say – I just hoped that it would not happen again,” she wrote. 

Then, Anaya wrote, towards the beginning of the legislative session in January 2022, she and Ivey-Soto met to discuss a voting rights bill that Anaya was lobbying to pass.

House committee passes ‘comprehensive’ voting bill that includes voting rights provisions

The House Judiciary Committee passed an omnibus voting bill, SB 144, that includes provisions of two other voting bills, SB 8 and SB 6, on a party line vote of 9-3 Tuesday evening. After Senate Republicans blocked a Senate floor debate and vote on SB 8 over the weekend, House Democrats moved the provisions from that bill into another voting bill, SB 144. SB 144, sponsored by state Sen. Katy Duhigg, D-Albuquerque, initially aimed to protect election workers from intimidation, threat or use of force or violence, damage or harm while carrying out their duties during an election. The penalty for the crime is a fourth degree felony. The bill also has already passed the Senate, removing a barrier with less than two days left in the session.

Senate committee passes Voters’ Rights Provisions bill, but strips it further

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to pass a committee substitute to the Voters’ Rights Provisions bill that strikes back end automatic voter registration. The 6-3 vote came along party lines. The Democrats voted in favor of the SB 8’s committee substitute, introduced by state Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque. The Republicans on the committee voted against it. Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, sponsored the bill.

Senate passes bill to end life without possibility of parole for juvenile offenders

The New Mexico Senate  passed SB 43, which prohibits life without the possibility of parole for a juvenile offender, along party lines with a vote of 23 to 15. Sponsored by state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, D-Albuquerque, SB 43 allows a parole board to consider granting release after 15 years for juvenile offenders and prohibits life without parole for juvenile offenders. Currently there are no juvenile offenders serving a life without parole sentence, but Sedillo Lopez has said the judicial branch has asked that the Legislature weigh in on this potential sentence. Related: Bill to end life in prison without parole for juveniles clears committee

The bill, during the Senate floor debate, brought debate that fell along party lines with Republicans calling Democrats hypocritical because of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s comments during her State of the State address about her focus on crime during this Legislative session.  Republicans introduced several amendments to limit the bill but Sedillo Lopez called each amendment “unfriendly” and they all failed along party lines. Sedillo Lopez said the bill brings the possibility for “redemption” and said most perpetrators of violent crimes themselves have experienced trauma.