On the final full day of the 2023 legislative session, the second major piece of reproductive and gender-affirming rights legislation passed the House by a 38-30 vote. SB 13, sponsored by state Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, now heads to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk. The Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Protection Act protects providers and patients from other states’ efforts to subpoena for provider or patient information as part of an investigation into reproductive or gender-affirming care where that activity is not protected. The bill seeks to protect reproductive and gender-affirming care patients and providers from civil or criminal liability and to protect reproductive healthcare providers from discrimination by professional licensing boards. SB 13 is one of two reproductive and gender-affirming rights bills introduced in this legislative session.
A bill to expand the scope of the New Mexico Human Rights Act to include protections for the LGBTQ community passed the House by 47-to-20. HB 207, Expand the Human Rights Act Scope, is sponsored by state Rep. Kristina Ortez, D-Taos. It updates language in the state Human Rights Act to better reflect current language for the LGBTQ community and for the disabled community. The words “handicap” would be replaced with “disability” and the bill includes words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” It would also define the words “sex” and “gender.”
The bill would also expand the scope of current statute to prohibit public bodies and government contractors who receive public funding from discriminating against LGBTQ individuals. The New Mexico Human Rights Act was written in 1971 and updated in 2003, Ortez said.
The state House of Representatives voted to pass a bill expanding voting rights in New Mexico 41-26 following three hours of a far-reaching debate. HB 4 seeks to expand automatic voter registration, restore released convicted felons’ right to vote, create a voluntary permanent absentee voter list and enact the Native American Voting Rights Act. “There are threats to our sacred right to vote in this country. In this country, the franchise is a birthright or it’s the right of naturalized citizens of this country. It’s not a privilege.
The House Judiciary Committee tabled two pieces of legislation related to terminating states of emergency on Wednesday. Both HB 80 and HJR 3 sought to terminate states of emergency after 90 days unless the legislature is called into special session to address the circumstances of the state of emergency. “They are two pieces of legislation that I have worked on since about May of 2020 and have worked on in the language that’s before you and both pieces of legislation are the words that former Rep. Daymon Ely, D-Corrales, and I negotiated,” bill co-sponsor Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, said. “I bring before you these pieces of legislation because I feel strongly about the separation of powers.”
Committee member Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo, asked about the legislature’s current constitutional power to call itself into extraordinary session by a three-fifth supermajority. “What I don’t understand is why we need this.
A bill to allow individuals to change their name without putting a legal notice into the local newspaper passed the House 43 to 24. HB 31, No Publication Required for Name Change, now heads to the Senate. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Christine Chandler, D-Albuquerque, received little debate on the House floor. It will, if enacted, protect transgender individuals and survivors of domestic violence, stalking and assault from needing to put a legal notice in a local newspaper to announce the name change. State Rep. Stefani Lord, R-Sandia Park, took issue with the fact that a 15-year-old could change their name without notifying a parent or guardian.
The House Judiciary Committee passed the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care bill with two amendments by a party line vote of 7 to 4. HB 7 will, if enacted, ensure that all individuals in the state can access reproductive healthcare and gender-affirming care and that if an individual is discriminated against in seeking that care, the individual can seek legal remedy. Rep. Linda Serrato, a Democrat from Santa Fe, sponsored the bill and has said frequently that the bill will, if enacted, prevent a patchwork of healthcare across the state. The cities of Clovis and Hobbs and Lea and Roosevelt counties have passed anti-abortion ordinances that impact abortion clinics’ ability to apply for licenses in those political subdivisions and also place restrictions on medication abortion. Clovis Mayor Mike Morris spoke during public comment on the bill and said the bill “takes away home rule.”
He asked that the committee, if unable to vote no on the bill, “preserve our local authority to reflect the values of the citizens,” he said.
A bill that will eliminate the requirement to give public notice when changing a name passed the House Judiciary Committee by 10 to 0 on Friday. Sponsored by House Rep. Christine Chandler, a Democrat from Albuquerque, HB 31 will, if enacted, eliminate from statute the requirement to place a public notice for 14 days in the local newspaper when a person seeks to change their name. The Legislature put the requirement into law decades ago and it was intended to prevent individuals from evading creditors. The law is now antiquated and it puts transgender individuals and survivors of domestic violence, assault and stalking in danger, advocates of the bill have said. Chandler said the bill removes the requirement that both parents be notified of a name change of a minor.
The omnibus voting rights bill, SB 144, which would have expanded voting rights to many formerly disenfranchised and given protections to election workers passed the House in the final hours of the legislature but the bill ultimately failed after a filibuster by Senate Republicans . After a nearly 24-hour House debate on various bills, the House turned to the omnibus voting bill SB 144 around 7 a.m. Thursday in the final hours of the Legislature.
SB 144 began as a two-page bill ensuring the safety of election workers from intimidation. It had broad bipartisan support, receiving a unanimous due pass in the Senate chamber earlier this month. But state House Rep. Daymon Ely, of Corrales, and state Sen. Katy Duhigg, of Albuquerque, both Democrats, amended SB 144 to include measures from two other election bills, SB 6, which cleaned up and modernized language in the election code and SB 8, the Voters’ Rights Provisions bill, which expanded voting rights to many who have historically been disenfranchised and would have made voting easier and more streamlined for many.
The grafting of the three bills led to complaints from Republicans about “log rolling,” which is combining more than one unrelated bill together and is unconstitutional. Another complaint, made by state House Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, that the bill, once amended with provisions from SB 6 and SB 8, had not been vetted. Related: House committee passes ‘comprehensive’ voting bill that includes voting rights provisions
Grafting the three bills together was similar in process, Ely said on the House floor Thursday morning, to the omnibus crime bill which the House just sent to the governor by concurring with Senate changes.
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.
A proposed constitutional amendment that would remove the New Mexico Legislature from the controversial process of drawing new election districts for legislative and congressional seats wasn’t quite ready for its first vote, lawmakers decided Wednesday. Some members of the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee sought changes to House Joint Resolution 9 to strengthen its ability to ensure a nonpartisan redistricting process every 10 years. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Natalie Figueroa, D-Albuquerque, proposes appointing people to an independent redistricting commission who have been away from the political process for at least five years, and in some cases 10. But Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, said that wasn’t enough. “I think we can remove in a much stronger fashion the partisan influence from this commission by choosing who’s capable of serving on that commission,” he said.