SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Monday January 23, legislators are back to lawmaking with the second week of the 2023 session. Today, lawmakers will debate a few introduced bills, and one committee will even take public comment for the first time.
The House Appropriations and Finance Committee, which generally debates bills related to spending, is opening up to public comments. The news was announced by Committee Chair Rep. Nathan Small (D-Las Cruces) last Friday. The change comes just in time to let citizens have a say in how a potentially record-breaking budget is spent.
“We must meet this moment by putting our record revenues to work for New Mexicans while charting a course for generational change. A vital piece of this process is hearing directly from our communities to make sure our budget works for them,” Small said in a press release. “We look forward to hearing from the public and building upon the strong recommendations of the Legislative Finance Committee to formulate a budget that makes responsible, impactful investments in our state’s most pressing areas of need, while ensuring that we maintain strong reserves.”
The House Appropriations and Finance Committee says they’ll let members of the public speak at Monday’s meeting, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Comments will be taken in person.
In addition to considering the state’s budget, legislators in various committees will also debate some key bills on Monday. Here are a few of interest.
The House Health & Human Services Committee is scheduled to tackle a handful of bills Monday. These include House Bill 27, sponsored by Rep. Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Sandoval and Santa Fe) and Sen. Elizabeth “Liz” Stefanics (D-Bernalillo, Lincoln, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Torrance and Valencia). The bill would remove financial barriers to treating breast cancer, according to the Susan G. Komen organization, which helped create the bill.
They’ll also look at a bill to offer loans to fund rural healthcare projects, a bill to expand tax credits to rural healthcare workers, and a bill to fund substance use disorder treatment programs in San Miguel county. They’ll tackle a few other healthcare-related bills as well; the full list can be found on the legislature’s online schedule.
Public safety bills
The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to take a look at a few public safety bills Monday. One of those offers a way to address the backlog of outstanding warrants in Bernalillo County.
House Bill 97 would split $20 million among the Department of Public Safety, the District Attorney’s Office, and state and local law enforcement offices in Bernalillo County. The funds would be used to try to reduce the tens of thousands of active warrants in the county.
Back in December, the Albuquerque Police Department said that there were more than 62,000 misdemeanor warrants and 5,000 active felony warrants in the county. The result: Some people with outstanding warrants probably get to walk free, according to the police department.
Now, Rep. Bill Rehm (R-Rio Rancho) and Rep. Stefani Lord (R-Tijeras, Edgewood) sponsored this bill to help. But before the funds can be sent, the bill has to get approval from other legislators.