SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – In a late night debate, lawmakers passed the Civil Rights Act which would bar the use of qualified immunity in state court. Qualified immunity protects public employees from being sued personally.

It would also make it easier to bring civil rights suits by allowing those employees to be sued in state court instead of federal. Supporters say the measures would hold officials more accountable. Opponents worry that it could financially strain local and county governments.

“I can’t imagine any one of us who drive in and out of this building every day who see the law enforcement officers surrounding and protecting this building don’t have anything but the greatest respect and admiration for every one of those men and women,” said Sen. Joseph Cervantes.

“Now all of a sudden, if you have a police force at all, your fire department is also at risk. Your schools are at risk, your teachers are at risk,” said Sen. William Sharer. The Senate passed the bill 26 to 15 and now heads to the House for reconsideration.