SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Friday, March 10, legislators are scheduled to debate a bill aimed at helping families across the state. If passed into law, the bill could compliment a paid leave bill passed last year.

Family leave

Senate Bill 11, sponsored by Democratic legislators, would create a paid leave benefit that nearly all workers in New Mexico could be eligible for. The idea is to support workers who take time off in order to bond with their children, provide care for family members, or take time to protect themselves from domestic violence or address similar issues.

The benefit would apply to all public and private employees who pay into the associated fund for at least six months. The idea has already made it through the Senate, but now it faces scrutiny by members of the House.

Capital outlay

Every year, legislators set aside hundreds of millions of dollars for capital outlay. The funds are usually used for projects like road improvements, new public buildings, and other infrastructure projects.

This year, legislators are considering putting more than $400 million towards projects throughout the state. Over $88 million is being considered for higher education-related projects, and $26 million would go to senior center projects, an analysis from the Legislative Finance Committee says.

And a key difference this year is that because the state has so much cash, they can choose to essentially fund projects outright, rather than issuing bonds. As a result, the state can avoid paying over $90 million each year to service debt over the next 10 years, according to an analysis by the Legislative Finance Committee.

In case you missed it: “Bennie’s Bill”

Late Wednesday, March 8, legislators finished debate on a key gun bill. House Bill 9, also known as ‘Bennie’s Bill,‘ has been intensely debated throughout this year’s session. Now it’s been approved by the Legislature.

The bill would make it a crime to negligently store a firearm and allow a child to misuse the weapon. While the bill doesn’t lay out an exhaustive definition of what safe storage is, the bill does clarifies 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.

Now, the bill heads to the Governor’s desk. She has until April 7 to decide if she wants to approve or veto the bill.