Republican and Democratic legislators voiced their thoughts on the 2023 legislative session shortly after it ended on Saturday. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham held a press conference with Democratic leadership from both the House and Senate. Lujan Grisham opened the conference with a note on bipartisanship and the sometimes prickly interactions between the legislative and executive branches. “This is not easy. Solutions take each of our areas of expertise and our priorities and passions and put it together,” Lujan Grisham said.
By Daniel J. Chacón, The Santa Fe New Mexican
Supporters of a proposal to establish a paid family and medical leave program in New Mexico gathered Thursday in the Capitol’s Rotunda to deliver a message about its failure. They’re bringing it back next year with backing from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “We have come closer to the finish line than we ever have,” said Rep. Christine Chandler, a Los Alamos Democrat who has been pushing for paid family and medical leave since taking office in 2019. “We all know in this Rotunda that transformational change is difficult, but it can happen, and it will happen,” she said. “We plan on pursuing it next year as vigorously as we did this year, and we will continue to do so until this becomes the public policy of the state of New Mexico.”
A bill aimed at reducing the increase in sexually transmitted infection in New Mexico passed the House floor by a 42-23 vote Wednesday evening. SB 132, sponsored by state Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, would eliminate cost sharing for individuals with health insurance for STI prevention and treatment. The bill was previously amended to state that individuals with high deductible plans with health savings accounts would have to meet the deductible first. The bill generated some debate on the House floor. Both state Reps.
A House committee tabled a bill that would provide paid family and medical leave to workers statewide by a vote of 6-4 in the final week of the session, likely ending its ability to pass this Legislative session
The vote to table the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act was bipartisan, with some Democrats voting alongside Republicans to table the bill. SB 11, sponsored by Senate Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, would have appropriated $36.5 million from the general fund to establish a program which would have allowed workers to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave from work for a new child or a serious medical condition. The opposition’s primary concern was that it would be too much of a burden on small business owners. There were also questions about the program’s ability to remain solvent. The bill’s Fiscal Impact Report states that the fund administered by the state would become insolvent by 2028.
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.
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.
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 bill to help prevent sexually transmitted infections passed the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee Tuesday after a party-line vote. SB 132, STI Prevention and Treatment, is a bill that will eliminate co-pays and cost sharing to remove financial barriers to seeking screening and treatment as a way of increasing prevention. Senate Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, sponsors the bill. The bill passed 6-4, along party lines. State Sens.
The Paid Family and Medical Leave bill cleared its first committee hearing by a 6-2 party line vote. The bill, SB 11, would allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave for a serious medical condition, to care for a family member with a serious medical condition or to welcome a new child. The bill passed with several amendments that bill sponsor, state Senate Pro Tem Mimi Stewart. D-Albuquerque, brought to the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee at the start of the hearing. One amendment clarifies that an employer can’t pass a portion of their premium onto their employees, another makes sure an employee’s medical privacy is protected while providing the employer with necessary information about their leave and another amendment adds two representatives from labor organizations to a Department of Workforce Solutions’ advisory board during rulemaking and implementation of the act, Stewart said.