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New Mexico governor signs over 200 bills into law

By THE SOURCE NM: MEGAN GLEASON, AUSTIN FISCHER, DANIELLE PROKOB, AND SHAUN GRISWOLD

At the end of 2023’s legislative session, over 240 bills had passed. By the end of Friday, April 7, the last day for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to sign legislation, more than 200 measures from the 60-day Legislative session became law. 

Economy

House Bill 505 allocates $1.2 billion across thousands of capital outlay projects. Normally an uncontroversial piece of legislation, many Republicans lawmakers voted against the bill because it includes $10 million for a reproductive health care clinic.

Yazzie-Martinez

Lujan Grisham signed legislation into law on April 5 that aims to strengthen tribal early education to better reflect standards for Native American students. This legislation is part of the Tribal Remedy Framework which presents solutions for the state to meet education reform mandates from the Yazzie-Martinez lawsuit. House Bill 148 requires that the N.M. Early Childhood Education and Care Department enter agreements with tribal communities, when requested by the tribal entity, about youth education programs, using culturally and linguistically relevant standards. It opens up avenues for tribal governments to access state funds for Pre-K programs.

Education

Environment & Climate Change

Millions were allocated for environment and cultural conservation efforts among different state agencies through creation of a Conservation Legacy Permanent Fund, which funnel money into a Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund for environmental work.

This bill bans prescribed burns when the National Weather Service sends out red flag warning alerts for extreme weather conditions like hot temperatures, high humidity and strong winds.

Senate Bill 176 allows acequia and irrigation associations to use dollars from the state’s acequia and community ditch infrastructure fund for disaster recovery needs. The legislation as introduced would have doubled the annual amount in that state fund from $2.5 million to $5 million, but Senate Finance removed that.

Aiming to diversify the Interstate Stream Commission, SB 58 adds more advanced expertise standards and require more geographic diversity throughout the state and Native nations, tribes and Pueblos.

This disaster relief measure was one of the first bills Lujan Grisham signed. She made it law on Feb. 20, making $100 million in zero-interest loans available for northern New Mexico political subdivisions recovering from the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire. Entities like counties and public acequias can apply to borrow the state money to fix up infrastructure, though the process can take months. Local officials later must repay the state once they get federal relief funds promised by the federal government.

Government & Politics

For a state with some of the lowest voter turnout rates in the nation, the New Mexico Voting Rights Act makes it easier for different communities to vote. The legislation allows anyone convicted of a felony to vote once they have been released from detainment. It also enacts the Native American Voting Rights Act, which ensures that precinct boundaries are aligned with tribal political boundaries, allow voters, including those who are unhoused, to put down official buildings as addresses, expands early voting opportunities and sends more resources to county clerks’ offices. Other accessibility measures in the bill include requiring at least two drop boxes in every county and automatically registering New Mexicans as voters.

People who file harassment complaints to the interim Legislative Ethics Committee can now speak about it at any time. People can now share details about issues like ethics concerns or harassment complaints; where before people who filed complaints could not talk about their experience. Lujan Grisham changed that by signing House Bill 169 on March 30.

Health

  • House Bill 7: Reproduction and Gender-Affirming Health Care 

Signed into law on  March 16, House Bill 7 prevents government bodies or individuals from interfering with or discriminating against someone’s access or use of reproductive or gender identity health care. This legislation was the first reproductive rights-related measure to make it through the Roundhouse, one of Lujan Grisham’s top priorities this session.

Senate Bill 13 protects medical providers and patients who are getting abortion or gender-affirming health care services.

Sen. Liz Stefanics (D-Cerillos) hoped the Rural Health Care Delivery Fund bill could help fill holes in specialty health care in rural New Mexico. This legislation allows providers in rural areas to apply for grant funding to start up new facilities or expand those that already exist.

Students will soon have access to free menstrual products in public schools after Lujan Grisham signed House Bill 134 on March 30. The legislation requires that products must also be in at least one boy’s bathroom in public schools.

Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 310 on April 4, allowing law enforcement to bring people to a crisis triage center for a mental health exam instead of strictly to jails or hospitals. Police could bring people there involuntarily, and licensed medical professionals could treat people in crisis.

Police & Prison

New Mexico is the 27th state to abolish life without parole as a sentencing option for children sentenced as adults in the state’s criminal legal system. SB 64 also provides developmentally meaningful opportunities for hearings before the Parole Board either 15, 20 or 25 years into an adult sentence given to a child.

Lujan Grisham signed Bennie’s Bill into law on March 14. This legislation makes it a crime for anyone to make a firearm negligently accessible to a minor. If the minor accesses the weapon, it’s a misdemeanor, and if they hurt themself or others, it’s a fourth-degree felony.

The governor vetoed the following:

Bills, which Gov. Lujan Grisham did not sign, are considered “pocket vetoed” (i.e. The governor could not return the bill to the legislature, and the legislature did not have the opportunity to override.) These are:

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