ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A non-profit organization that advocates for women and girls’ access to economic resources is trying to gain attention from lawmakers. For years, the Southwest Women’s Law Center in New Mexico has advocated for paid family and medical leave. The group has a goal for next month’s legislative session. 

Tracy McDaniel with the Southwest Women’s Law Center says, “We would love it if the Governor affirmed her commitment to working families by putting the paid family and medical leave act on her agenda so it could be considered in full during the 2022 legislative session.”

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In 2019, SWLC in Albuquerque brought the Paid Family & Medical Leave Act to the legislature for their consideration. Now with the pandemic, policy advocates say there is a stronger need for economic stability in our workforce. 

The group is inviting New Mexico’s Department of Workforce Solutions to help with these efforts. “To come to the table and work out some of the technical issues that would need to be sort of solved in the first year of planning and give us a head start so that we’re ready to go for the 2023 legislative session,” said McDaniel

The Paid Family & Medical Leave Act would establish a trust fund through employee and employer contributions. Compensation would be administered through Workforce Solutions. “When a person had paid into that fund for at least six months and they had a qualifying event they would be able to apply to the department,” says McDaniel. 

Qualifying events include welcoming a new child, caring for a family member with a serious health condition or managing one’s own health. A recent poll commissioned by Change Research shows a large majority of New Mexicans are in support of a state administered paid Family & Medical Leave program. McDaniel says, “78% of New Mexicans overall supported paid family and medical leave. When we explained the low cost of two to six dollars a week for the worker that increased to 81%.”

Policy advocates are hoping New Mexico will become the tenth state to pass paid family and medical leave programs. The 30-day legislative session begins on January 18th.