SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Tuesday, March 14, legislators are working to get more bills through the legislative process before the session ends on Saturday. In the meantime, here’s a look at some of the bills that have made it to the last stage of approval, the Governor’s desk.
Reproductive and gender-affirming care
A bill that drew a lot of attention and debate this session, House Bill 7, seeks to help solidify New Mexicans’ access to reproductive healthcare, abortion, and gender-affirming care.
Politicians on both sides of the political aisle have taken strong positions on the issues laid out in the bill. Last week, debate on the Senate floor brought biblical references and hours of back-and-forth over the issues. But ultimately, the supporters of the bill prevailed, meaning the Governor now has the final say on whether or not the bill becomes law.
Another bill that’s garnered contentious debate is House Bill 9. Also known as “Bennie’s Bill” after a child who was shot and killed at Washington Middle School in 2021, the bill sets penalties for adults who do not properly secure their firearms and allow children to negligently access guns.
The bill notes that if a minor manages to get ahold of a firearm that’s in a locked container, “kept in a location that a reasonable person would believe to be secure,” or locked with a safety device to make the gun inoperable, then the individual who stored the gun wouldn’t be in violation of the bill.
A bill aimed at keeping New Mexico’s youth healthy is Senate Bill 4. The bill expands access to free lunches in public schools, including charter schools.
The bill essentially increases access to the existing National School Lunch Program. Under the bill, kids can get a free breakfast or lunch just by asking. They don’t have to fall into a certain income category to get a free meal.
Legislators recently passed a bill changing a range of voting-related laws. House Bill 4 would create a system to automatically register qualified voters when they renew their driver’s license at the Motor Vehicle Division. The bill also gives former felons a quicker and easier path to restored voting rights. For more details on what the bill would do, check out this KRQE News 13 story.
Other bills and what’s next
The above bills are just a few of the heavily debated bills that have managed to make it to the Governor’s desk. But there are others that are awaiting her signature as well. That includes several environmental bills, such as a bill to create a long-term funding stream for conservation.
Of course, lots of bills have stalled out along the way. And some bill sponsors are making a final push to get their bills approved in the final few days.
But the priority is likely to be the state’s budget, capital improvement projects, and tax changes. For more on what legislators are focusing on right now, check out this KRQE News 13 story.