SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Saturday, February 4, legislators are set to debate a contentious topic fundamental to lawsuits against some public officials. Today, they’ll discuss qualified immunity.

Currently, New Mexico prohibits using qualified immunity as a legal defense in civil rights cases. In 2021, legislators created the New Mexico Civil Rights Act, aimed at enhancing police accountability and eliminating qualified immunity for police officers and other state officials. Now, some legislators want to change that.

House Bill 109, sponsored by Rep. John Block (R-Alamogordo), takes a relatively simple approach to restoring qualified immunity. The bill would simply repeal the entire New Mexico Civil Rights Act.

But that’s not the only bill on the table that would restore qualified immunity. Another bill, sponsored by Rep. Alan T. Martinez (R-Corrales), takes a slightly different approach.

House Bill 203 wouldn’t repeal the entire Civil Rights Act. Instead, it would only repeal the section specifically prohibiting the use of qualified immunity.

Both Block and Martinez are new to the Roundhouse this year. And it’s not clear how much traction their proposals will get, but debate is scheduled to start Saturday in the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee.

In case you missed it: Controlling prescribed burns, gun purchases

So far, legislators have debated a wide range of topics. This week, for example, they considered a bill to help prevent prescribed burns from getting out of control.

The bill, after being amended, sets out to stop prescribed burns in the months of March, April, and May, when a Red Flag Warning has been issued by the National Weather Service. For more info on that bill, check out this KRQE News 13 story.

Legislators are also looking to cut down on gun crime. One idea for doing that: Stop “straw purchases.”

“Straw purchases” are when a person purchases a firearm for someone who can’t legally possess one. A KRQE News 13 investigation recently revealed that these sorts of purchases might be fueling gun crimes in the state.

Now, a bill could create state penalties aimed at preventing such purchases. It’s already prohibited at the federal level, but a new bill, backed by both Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and State House Minority Leader Ryan Lane (R-San Juan), would add a state penalty.