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February 2024

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Legislation 56 Covers Much Affecting Our Community

from conservation to energy, public infrastructure to transportation, healthcare, elections, and more.

New Mexico’s 56th Legislature began on Jan.17 and 64 bills have been pre-filed including three amendments to the New Mexico Constitution, and two requests from the State of New Mexico to the United States Congress.

Taos County’s state senator, Roberto “Bobby” Gonzales has pre-filed a bill (docket #223783.1) related to finance providing for the distribution of certain gas and oil tax revenues and federal Mineral Leasing Act payments to the state’s Severance Tax Permanent Fund, a fund set up back in 1973 as a way to save and invest unused severance tax revenue to bond capital projects.

The 2022 elections saw the passage of an amendment to New Mexico’s Permanent School Fund which subsequently necessitates a confirmation from the U.S. Congress altering the New Mexico Statehood & Enabling Act (1997). This is a joint resolution (docket #223468.1) in the New Mexico Senate introduced by Senator Pete Campos (District 8).

New Mexico Senators Crystal Diamond (District 35) and Cliff Pirtle (District 32) introduced a joint resolution (docket #223831.2) calling for an Article 5 Convention of the States by the U.S. Constitution for particular purposes involving imposing fiscal restraints on the U.S. government, limiting the power and jurisdiction of the U.S. government, and limiting the terms of office for federal officials and members of the U.S. Congress.

New Mexico Senator Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (District 16) introduced a joint resolution (docket #223407.1) to amend the New Mexico Constitution to enshrine environmental rights for people including the right to clean and healthy air, soil, and environments, a stable climate with self-sustaining ecosystems as well as provide mandates for state, county, and municipalities to serve as trustees of their natural resources.

New Mexico Senator William Soules (District 37) introduced a joint resolution (docket #223665.1) to amend the New Mexico Constitution mandating the Legislature to create a Children’s Bill of Rights for the protection of New Mexican youth which will include rights to timely medical and dental healthcare; rights to behavioral healthcare; rights to nutritious food; rights to stable and healthy housing with electricity, plumbing, heat, and internet access; rights to transportation in order to reach educational, recreational, and vital services; rights to early education programs; rights to fully resourced community schools; rights to youth mentorship programs as well as rights to acquire all skills needed to maintain quality employment.

New Mexico Senator Steven Neville (District 2) introduced a joint resolution (docket #223332.2) amending Article 12, Section 6, of the New Mexico Constitution replacing the Public Education Commission with a State Board of Education to set policy and direct the Public Education Department providing for a transition period for the replacement. The new State Board of Education would determine public school policies and vocational education policies including financial directions, distribution of school funds, and financial accounting for school districts. The new State Board would be made up of 10 members elected to staggered terms of four years on the general election ballot. State Board members would be required to be residents of the State Board of Education district which they are serving.

New Mexico Senator Ron Griggs (District 34) is proposing a ban on prescribed burns (docket #222935.1) from March 1 through May 31 in response to the devastating wildfires the state experienced last summer, wildfires which began from prescribed burns initiated by the United States Forest Service.

New Mexico Senator Peter Wirth (District 25) is proposing the Regional Water System Resiliency Act to create regional utility authorities for more localized management of water systems across the state.
New Mexico Senator Soules (District 37) is proposing an amendment to the Public Utility Act (docket #223768.2) mandating that all newly constructed infrastructure facilities for energy generation generate clean energy; clean energy as defined by the bill as energy generated from solar heat, solar light, wind, geothermal reservoirs, biomass, and/or hydro-power.

Senator Soules is also proposing an ambitious new infrastructure project in the form of a high-speed railroad from the state’s southern border to its northern border; no details on the exact path of the proposed railroad. The project is proposed in two bills: one to appropriate funding for construction in the form of $1 billion for Fiscal Years 2024 through 2028 with any unspent funds at the end of FY2028 reverting back to the general fund (docket #223764.1); the other to appropriate funding for study in the form of $500,000 for FY2024 to study the feasibility of such an infrastructure project (docket #223765.1).
Another bill from Senator Soules (docket #223767.1) would include photovoltaic systems for purposes of solar energy generation in the basic infrastructure for our public schools requiring all public school buildings in the future to be outfitted with such systems.

A bill from New Mexico Senator Martin Hickey (District 20) would amend the Section 24-5-3 NM SA 1978, adding exemptions for immunizations for children, giving parents/guardians rights to exempt their children from mandatory school immunizations with a note from a licensed physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner stating that receiving said immunization would endanger the life of said child (docket #223279.1). Parents/guardians would also be able to receive immunization exemptions with written affirmations from recognized religious denominations under this proposed law.

A bill from New Mexico Senator Gregory Baca (District 29) would amend the state’s Public Health Emergency Response Act as well as create a new section of the state’s Public Health Act implementing automatic termination of a public health emergency order or a public health order that closes public places or limits public gatherings after forty-five days of being issued (docket #223633.1).

New Mexico Senators Bill O’Neill (District 13) and Siah Correa Hemphill (District 28) along with New Mexico Representative Dayan Hochman-Vigil (District 15) have proposed opening up the state’s primary elections to voters not registered with a specific political party (docket #223512.2).

One can find a list of all the pre-filed bills at the following web address:

The New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) projects in their Policy & Performance Analysis recurring revenues for the state’s general fund of $11.994 billion for FY2024. The LFC’s spending plan for FY2024 includes $328 million for average pay raises of 5 percent for state and education employees, $80 million to backfill federal Medicaid spending, $109 million to expand pre-kindergarten as well as $263 million recurring and $261 million for non-recurring increase for public schools; reserves would be 30 percent of planned spending.

Contact Your Legislators:

Representative Kristina Ortez
House District: 42
Capitol Phone: (505) 986-4344
Email: kristina.ortez@nmlegis.gov
Website: https://www.ortez4nm.com/

Senator Roberto “Bobby” J. Gonzales
Senate District: 6
Capitol Phone: (505) 986-4362
Email: roberto.gonzales@nmlegis.gov
Website: https://www.nmlegis.gov/members/Legislator?SponCode=SGONZ