A bill that makes intimidating election officials a felony passed in the House Judiciary Committee on a 10-0 vote. SB 43 would expand the state Election Code’s scope by making it a fourth-degree felony to intimidate election workers such as poll workers and county clerks and other election employees. “Under current law, if someone is a voter or a watcher or a challenger, and someone seeks to intimidate them, tries to induce fear using threatened use of force, violence, infliction of harm or loss or any form of economic retaliation for the purpose of impeding their free elective franchise or the impartial administration of the electric code that is a fourth degree felony,” bill sponsor Sen. Katy Duhigg, D-Albuquerque, said. “What this bill does is it extends those same protections to the people who are actually running our elections: the Secretary of State’s office, their employees and agents, or county clerks, or municipal clerks and their employees and agents.”
More: Bill making intimidation of election officials a felony moves to Senate floor
The bill’s origin comes from a wave of threats of violence against election workers, including threats to Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.
The bill passed the Senate unanimously on Feb. 16.
New Mexico has the only non-salaried legislature in the U.S. A piece of legislation seeks to change that. HJR 8 would allow New Mexico voters to determine if they want to amend the state constitution to allow legislators to earn a salary set by a citizens’ commission. It passed as amended on a 5-4 party-line vote in the Senate Rules Committee Friday. Proponents of the legislation said that making the legislature salaried could help diversify the institution because adding a salary could open up the option to run for state office to those who otherwise would not be financially comfortable doing so. “I think the public perception is that when we’re away from Santa Fe, after the 30 or 60 day-session, that our job stops,” committee vice chairman Leo Jaramillo, D-Española, said.
A bill that seeks to update the state’s Election Code and make it easier for New Mexicans to vote passed the Senate on a 27 to 14 party line vote after a lengthy debate. HB 4, the Voting Rights Act, would expand automatic voter registration, restore convicted felons’ right to vote upon release from prison, create a voluntary permanent absentee voter list, and enact the Native American Voting Rights Act to the state Election Code. “Our democracy, our sacred right to vote is under threat and this requires a strong community driven response. That’s why this bill is before this body today,” Sen. Katy Duhigg said. Duhigg, a Democrat from Albuquerque, described the bill, and focused on the Native American Voting Rights Act.
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 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.
A bill updating the state Election Code passed the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee Monday on a party line 6-3 vote. SB 180 requests an update the state’s Election Code including, but not limited to, specifying when the Inspection of Public Records Act, or IPRA, can be used in election-based disclosures, allowing electronic nominating petition signatures, creating an election security program, requiring training for election challengers and watchers, revising requirements for the impoundment of ballots, audits, voting machine rechecks and recounts, revising election-related crimes and authorizing taxpayer information to be revealed to the secretary of state for purposes of maintaining voter registration records. More: Election code update passes Senate
“All the changes that are in this bill (are based on) actual experiences of machine administrators and a lot of them have already been tested because a lot of this is stuff that was adopted temporarily during the 2020s,” bill sponsor Sen. Katy Duhigg, D-Albuquerque, said.
The bill previously passed the Senate on a 23-13 vote. It now heads to the House Judiciary Committee.
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.
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.
By Robert Nott and Daniel J. Chacón, The Santa Fe New Mexican
James Mountain, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s controversial pick to head the state Indian Affairs Department, could spend most of his first year in office as Cabinet secretary-designate. State Sen. Katy Duhigg, an Albuquerque Democrat who chairs the Senate Rules Committee — the first stop for the governor’s appointees before they face a confirmation hearing in the full Senate — said Thursday the Senate is unlikely to hold a hearing for Mountain before the end of this year’s 60-day legislative session. “He has not been submitted to the Rules Committee for confirmation; my understanding is that he will not be this session,” Duhigg said. Mountain, a former governor of San Ildefonso Pueblo, was accused of rape in 2007 and indicted on a number of related charges, including kidnapping and aggravated battery, the following year. The case was dismissed in 2010 after the prosecution said it did not have enough evidence to take it to trial.
A bill that would expand the state’s Election Code passed the Senate Rules Committee on a party-line 5-2 vote on Monday.
HB 4 aims to expand automatic voter registration, restore convicted felons’ right to vote upon release from prison, create a voluntary permanent absentee voter list, and enact the Native American Voting Rights Act to the state Election Code. “Despite a lot of recent progress in strengthening voting opportunities for all New Mexicans, New Mexico still lags behind other states and our percentage of citizens that are registered to vote, and the number of folks who exercise that right at election time and this tells us that despite the the excellent work that our secretary of state has done for many years, we still have more work to do. Which is why the New Mexico Voting Rights Act is here before you,” bill co-sponsor Sen. Katy Duhigg, D-Albuquerque said. More: Voting rights expansion passes House
Duhigg offered an amendment that passed the committee
A section of the bill could leave the state open to litigation under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. The amendment removed section three of the bill which concerns voter information dissemination.