SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Monday, February 13, education will be a key topic at the Roundhouse. Among the many bills making their way through committees, several bills could have big implications for New Mexico students.

Public Education Department changes

If you’ve been paying close attention to KRQE News 13’s legislative coverage, you might have heard about this legislation before. Senate Joint Resolution 1, sponsored by Sen. Steven P. Neville (R-San Juan), aims to change the structure of the state’s Public Education Department.

The legislation was originally scheduled for debate last Friday. But now, it’s been rolled over to Monday’s schedule. The joint resolution would amend the state’s constitution and let voters replace the current structure of the Public Education Department with an elected board of education if they so choose.

Consent in schools

Legislators will also consider a bill to require clear consent policies in public schools. House Bill 43, sponsored by a handful of Democratic legislators, has already made it through a few committees, but it still has a ways to go before becoming law.

The bill would require post-secondary schools that get state funds to have affirmative consent policies. That means that consent can’t be assumed just because someone didn’t say “no.” The bill would also require public schools under the Public Education Department to develop clear policies on the issue.

Graduate scholarship changes

Monday, the Senate Education Committee is also set to consider a bill that would change the requirements for the Graduate Scholarship, administered by the state’s Higher Education Department. That scholarship offers up to $7,200 per year for graduate students.

Senate Bill 151, sponsored by Sen. Harold Pope (D-Abq.), would require students to keep a 2.5 GPA. The bill also removes the previous $7,200 per year cap on the scholarship, potentially allowing the scholarship to cover a student’s full tuition costs, according to a Legislative Finance Committee analysis. If students fail to maintain their scholarship, it would convert to a loan.

In case you missed it: Gun storage bill moves forward

Last week, the members of the House spent hours debating “Bennie’s Bill.” The bill is named after 13-year-old Bennie Hargrove, who was killed at Washington Middle School in 2021. The bill, sponsored by Democratic legislators, would make it illegal to negligently make a firearm accessible to a minor.

“Lock the guns up. That’s all we want,” Bennie Hargrove’s grandmother said, speaking in support of the bill last week.

Debate on the house floor lasted hours. Ultimately, the bill received a majority vote in the House. Now, it heads to senators for consideration. For more details on the bill, check out this KRQE News 13 story.