Guv signs two bills that affect student health

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed two bills on Thursday that impact student health: one bill codifies School-Based Health Centers into state statute and the other will make free menstrual products available in every public school. HB 134, sponsored by state Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, requires a menstrual product dispensary in every girl’s bathroom in every public elementary, middle and high school and one placed in one boy’s bathroom in each school. The products will be free and several young women spoke during the legislative session, testifying during committee hearings about the need for these products to eliminate shame and help students stay focused on their studies and school sports. SB 397, sponsored by state Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe, does not make any changes to  school-based health centers, but it does codify them into state statute to prevent the possibility that they could be eliminated based on political whim in the future. 

School-based health centers have been in existence in New Mexico for 25 years. The majority receive funding through the New Mexico Department of Health and DOH helps with logistics, but the local school districts determine if they want one and, if they do, what sorts of services are provided and which provider the school contracts with.

Bill to codify School-Based Health Centers heads to House floor

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.

Bill to protect abortion patients and providers passes state Senate

The bill to protect abortion and gender-affirming providers and patients from out-of-state entities passed the state Senate by a 26-6 vote. SB 13, would codify Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s executive order from last summer. The bill would protect both providers and patients seeking abortion care and gender-affirming healthcare from other states or individuals out of state who try to seek information about the patient or provider. State Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, D-Albuquerque, also a bill sponsor, said the bill will “ensure no one is criminalized for safe and legal healthcare.”

“It privileges certain healthcare information so patients and providers can go without fear of out-of-state criminal or civil liability,” she said. Related: First of two abortion right bills heads to Guv’s desk

Republicans argued that the bill is not constitutional, that it conflicts with both the U.S. Constitution and with the state’s constitution.

House Education Committee passes bill to codify School-Based Health Centers

The House Education Committee passed the bill to codify School-Based Health Centers into state statute by a party line vote of 8-to-4 on Monday. SB 397, School-Based Health Centers, sponsored by state Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe, would not change the way School-Based Health Centers already operate in the state. The local school district as well as the individual school determine if the school will have a School-Based Health Center and decide what provider the school will contract with. Republicans have expressed concern over this bill, saying that parents do not receive notification for reproductive healthcare and that the districts do not have local control. Rodriguez said she is also concerned about local control and the bill does not reduce a district’s or a school’s ability to choose which provider the school contracts with or what services the provider provides.

Bill to codify School-Based Health Centers passes Senate

A bill to codify School-Based Health Centers, which have been serving students for 25 years, passed the state Senate chamber on Monday. SB 397 passed the state Senate 26 to 11 after lengthy debate on the floor. The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe, said it was a simple bill that did not fundamentally change how the health center currently operate. “This does nothing more than codify School-Based Health Centers. They are not statutorily protected.

A bill codifying School-Based Health Centers heads to Senate floor

A bill that would codify School-Based Health Centers passed  theSenate Health and Public Affairs Committee on a 6-1 party vote on Wednesday. SB 397, sponsored by state Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe, would codify into law School-Based Health Centers, which have been providing primary and behavioral health care to children in New Mexico for 25 years. State Sen. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, asked how School-Based Health Centers help the LGBTQ community. Nancy Rodriguez, executive director of the Alliance of School-Based Health Centers (no relation to state Sen. Rodriguez) said that what services each School-Based Health Center provides depends on the school district, but she said they all provide primary and behavioral health. “They have a safe space through the PED and provide individual counseling,” the executive director said.

Bill to codify School-Based Health Centers clears first committee

The Senate Education Committee passed a bill that would codify School-Based Health Centers into law by 7-1. SB 397 would, if enacted, codify the centers into New Mexico state statute. Bill sponsor state Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe, said School-Based Health Centers have never been codified into state statute. This bill would do that without changing any School-Based Health Care services. The Senate Education Committee amended the bill to clean up some language.

End of moratorium on evictions could lead to crisis, say family advocates

With the New Mexico Supreme Court’s pandemic-era inspired moratorium on evictions about to end, the court announced it will phase-in a statewide program to help tenants access money starting in April. But family advocates have said that approximately 80,000 renter households are at risk in the state for eviction. Divya Shiv, a research and policy analyst for New Mexico Voices for Children, told NM Political Report that the 43 percent of residents in the state reporting a high likelihood of eviction or foreclosure because they are not current on their rent or mortgage is higher than the national average, which is 35 percent. With the moratorium ending on evictions for tenants with unpaid rent, this could lead to a crisis of unhoused families in New Mexico, Shiv said. “Evictions are really harmful and it’s incredibly destabilizing for families and children,” she said.

Proposal to increase pay of governor and other elected officials clears legislative committee

A proposal to give the governor and other statewide elected officials hefty raises while state employees are poised to receive average 7 percent pay increases under New Mexico’s proposed budget touched off a spirited debate Sunday at the Capitol. The Senate Finance Committee advanced Senate Bill 202 on a 7-4 party-line vote with Republicans expressing concerns about the optics and the need to boost the pay of elective offices that typically have no shortage of candidates. Sen. Crystal Diamond, R-Elephant Butte, said she’d be open to supporting the proposed pay increases if “contingencies” were part of the deal. “So, we’re trying to bring the governor’s salary from 44th up to 19th” in national rankings, she said. “Can we make that contingent upon her bringing New Mexico’s CYFD (Children, Youth and Families Department) child welfare from 50th to 19th?

Voters’ Rights Provisions bill headed to Senate floor

The Senate Finance Committee passed the Voters’ Rights Provisions bill by a narrow vote of 6-5 on Thursday after a tie vote failed to strike a $20 million allocation into a state election fund. State Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, sided with Republicans to vote against the bill. This was the third Senate committee hearing for the bill. The previous committees amended the bill, striking some voter expansion provisions including allowing 16-year-old individuals the right to vote in local and statewide elections and backend automatic voter registration. Muñoz introduced the amendment to strike the provision allowing the Secretary of State’s office to create a permanent election fund of $20 million.