SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The legislative session beings on Tuesday at noon. One bill lawmakers will consider is aimed at preventing cyberattacks like the ones that hit Albuquerque Public Schools and Bernalillo County. Both APS and the county have been crippled by cyberattacks over the last few weeks.

“The sophisticated hackers behind the chaos, often target public schools because they know we can’t afford the same in-house cybersecurity expertise found in the private sector,” said Scott Elder, APS superintendent.

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One state lawmaker believes he has a solution to stopping future attacks. “I just really think this is the right time to get this done because we’re seeing more and more of this. Not just here in New Mexico but all over the world,” said Sen. Michael Padilla (D-Bernalillo County).

Legislation proposed by Sen. Padilla would create a new department focused on cyber security. The department would help New Mexico counties, cities, and school districts come up with a plan to prevent cyber attacks and step in when they need help. “It would become sort of a central repository for all best practices on how to deal with various types of cybersecurity threats and things of that nature. So that you’re not reinventing the wheel each time. You’re not out spending all kinds of money trying to get this done,” said Padilla.

The new department would be a branch of the Department of Information Technology and headed up by a new chief information security officer. They would report directly to the governor. The department would include IT specialists to handle any attack but also a panel of experts. “The other thing that the office is going to have is a council. A council of industry experts that we bring from all over the world to help us put our planning together,” said Padilla.

KRQE News 13 asked how prepared state agencies are if they were to be targeted by a hacker. “I think that what we’ve seen of late, tells us maybe we don’t know what we don’t know right now. By having a coordinated effort at the state level, we would be able to identify things a lot faster,” said Padilla.

One million dollars would be appropriated from the general fund to create the department. Padilla says he has been in talks with the governor about the legislation. He is familiar with the issue as he sponsored the bill that created the Office of Broadband.