SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – With the end of the legislative session on the distant horizon, New Mexico’s lawmakers are still debating dozens of bills. Among those up for discussion Tuesday, February 28, are a bill to set rules for cannabis packaging and a bill to help staff firehouses.
Legislators are set to debate House Bill 157. Sponsored by a handful of Republican legislators, the bill would set limits for acceptable cannabis packaging.
Even before recreational cannabis was legalized in New Mexico, a key component of the industry was ensuring that products stay out of the hands of children. Already, state law requires that “packages and labels shall not be designed to be appealing to a child.” But House Bill 157 would clarify even further.
The bill would prohibit the use of cartoons and would prohibit the depiction of celebrities. The idea, of course, is to help keep kids safe.
Since legal recreational sales began in New Mexico, the number of cannabis-related calls to the New Mexico Poison Control Center has increased, according to the New Mexico Department of Health. From March 2022 to November 2022, there were 89 calls for children 10 and younger, according to an analysis.
Legislators are also set to consider House Bill 345. Sponsored by three Democratic legislators, the bill aims to help ensure the state has enough firefighters.
Last year, funding police recruitment was a major priority, and lawmakers approved $50 million for the task. Now, lawmakers will debate making a fund for firefighters, albeit without a multi-million dollar appropriation.
The bill would create a fund to collect money from the state and federal government. The fund would then be used to give $5,000 bonuses to firefighter recruits who sign on for at least three years.
The exact details have yet to be worked out. But the point is to fill some of the existing job openings. Currently, there are 126 vacancies in Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, Las Cruces City, Dona Ana County, Santa Fe City, and Santa Fe County fire departments, the State Fire Marshal’s Office noted in an analysis.
In case you missed it: Education debates
Education bills are a hot topic at the Roundhouse this year. Recently, legislators moved forward with ides to change high school graduation requirements and to study changing school start times.
Monday, February 27, legislators discussed a memorial to study school start times. A high school student spoke to the legislators on why they should support the idea, but not all legislators thought students should get to sleep in. For more on the debate, check out this KRQE News 13 story.
Legislators also debated a bill to adjust the minimum requirements to graduate from high school. Supporters say the bill would help students focus on classwork aimed towards their future careers, rather than just meeting requirements. But some opponents say New Mexico shouldn’t be cutting requirements. For more on the debate, check out this KRQE News 13 story.