2020 LEGISLATIVE SESSION NEWS
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has announced her agenda for the second session of the 54th New Mexico Legislature.
The governor’s call for the 30-day legislative session scheduled to begin Tuesday, Jan. 21, encompasses the priority areas of education, the economy, public safety, health and the environment.
“Year One was a tremendous start, and I’m incredibly enthusiastic about the opportunity to keep building on that foundation over the next month – indeed, over the next year and beyond,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “My call for this legislative session underscores the work we are undertaking on two fronts: addressing urgent needs and strategically investing in sustainable improvements over the long term.
“These proposals are investments in the present well-being and future success of students, workers, kids and parents all across New Mexico,” the governor added. “These are quality-of-life initiatives I am proud to introduce and support. My call underscores our rock-solid commitment to investing for tomorrow, delivering today. I look forward to working with the Legislature to make a positive, meaningful difference for New Mexicans.”
Matters taken up during thirty-day legislative sessions are chiefly budgetary, focused on financial matters, unless otherwise indicated by the governor as a topic or specific issue she wants to address on behalf of New Mexicans.
The governor may send a message down to the Legislature at any time during the 30-day legislative session authorizing a bill or proposal for consideration. Some of the following bills have been “pre-filed” by sponsoring lawmakers and are searchable on nmlegis.gov; others are still being drafted and will be filed in the remaining interim before the session begins Tuesday.
The governor’s call for the 2020 legislative session includes:
Early Childhood Trust Fund (HB83, Rep. Gallegos and Sen. Smith)
Providing a dedicated and self-sustaining revenue stream to fund early childhood programs into the future, delivering a permanent investment in our youngest children. Part of the governor’s agenda to expand the education moonshot to begin from a child’s earliest days, the Early Childhood Trust Fund (ECTF) will fulfill a promise to parents and the next generation of families of New Mexico, created with a $320 million one-time initial appropriation. Centered on fiscal responsibility with financial safeguards built in, the ECTF will launch a positive and self-fulfilling cycle of investment and opportunity in our families and young children.
New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship (Rep. Salazar)
Establishing tuition-free college for New Mexico residents, extending the education moonshot through greater access to higher education and careers. Estimated to benefit 55,000 New Mexico students, the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship will cover tuition and fees at any of the state’s 29 public institutions of higher education, providing up to four or two years of college for recent high school graduates and two years of college for returning adults. Funded with a $35 million appropriation to the Higher Education Department, the Opportunity Scholarship will remove the barrier of tuition costs, restoring the original promise of the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship, enabling more New Mexicans to obtain college degrees and certificates, resulting in better employment opportunities, higher overall incomes and a stronger workforce for New Mexico’s economy.
Recreational Cannabis (Rep. J. Martinez)
Legalizing the use of recreational cannabis in New Mexico and establishing a regulatory framework for its use, including public safety considerations, public health safeguards, and the protection of the state’s existing medical cannabis program. Supported by 75 percent of New Mexicans in a recent poll, the legalization of recreational cannabis is projected to create 11,000 New Mexico jobs and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
PERA Solvency (SB72, Sen. Munoz, Sen. Smith, Sen. Neville, Rep. Lundstrom, Rep. Roybal Caballero)
Delivering essential and equitable reform to the state pension system, setting the state on a course to eliminate the current $6.6 billion unfunded liability and accommodating the concerns of current and future state of New Mexico retirees while establishing safeguards against the effects of future economic downturns. Requiring shared responsibility in order to ensure New Mexico’s public pension system remains one of the best in the country, the fix for the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) ensures that the pension system is solvent within 25 years; strengthens recruitment and retention of public employees; ensures that cost-of-living adjustments are sustainable; has been endorsed by the PERA board; and makes important accomodations for the most senior and most vulnerable retirees; in all, ensuring a sustainable future for PERA.
Lift Cap on Economically Targeted Investments as Percentage of Severance Tax Permanent Fund (Senator Campos)
Raising the cap on economically targeted investments (ETIs) from the Severance Tax Permanent Fund (STPF) in order to ensure sufficient headroom between the investment cap and the investment target, enabling the State Investment Council to implement its recent policy decision to increase the target ETIs out of the STPF from five percent to nine percent. Unanimously approved by the SIC, increasing the target percentage of the fund to be invested in ETIs allows for an additional $200 million to be invested in New Mexico businesses, building on the significant investments in small business Gov. Lujan Grisham and the Legislature delivered in 2019.
Electric Generating Facility Economic District Act (Rep. Lundstrom)
Establishing guidance on the next steps for the surrounding communities affected by the potential closing of the Escalante Power Plant, allowing McKinley County to establish a new special district use and a new authority for the purpose of converting the existing power plant site into a new industrial site. Specifically crafted to have expertise in the area of redevelopment, the new district authority board and staff will work to repurpose the area for the attraction of best-fit industrial companies.
Extreme-Risk Protection Order (SB5, Sen. Cervantes, Rep. Ely, Rep. Garratt)
Giving law enforcement an additional tool to prevent gun violence by enabling the use of extreme-risk protection orders, allowing firearms and ammunition to be temporarily removed by court order from someone threatening themselves or others. Proactive, constitutional, and proven effective, extreme-risk protection orders will allow police and family to take direct action, while following due process, that enables law enforcement to protect New Mexico communities and those most at risk of harming themselves. In a state with the eighth-highest rate of gun deaths in the nation, with a suicide rate at least 50% higher than the national average when over 50% of suicides are caused by firearm, this common-sense measure, a version of which has already been enacted by 17 states and the District of Columbia, will enhance New Mexicans’ public safety.
Increased Penalties for Use of a Firearm in a Non-Capital Felony (Rep. Rehm)
Part of a coordinated effort to target cartels, gangs and violent criminals.
Increased Penalties for Violations of New Mexico State Racketeering Laws
Increasing penalties for drug trafficking and adding a “kingpin provision” to the New Mexico Racketeering Act specifically directed at targeting organized crime and drug trafficking.
Threats and Acts of Mass Violence (Rep. Hochman-Vigil)
Creating penalties for those who make threats disrupting public educational or governmental institutions, including those who engage in cyberattacks against public institutions, and expanding the state’s Anti-Terrorism Act to criminalize terroristic threats and conduct. The proposal originated at the bipartisan Domestic Terrorism Summit convened by the governor earlier this year.
Criminal Penalties for Operating a Vehicle Chop Shop (Rep. Akhil)
Creating penalties for the destruction and resale of illegally-obtained vehicles and the operation of institutions conducting such practices, commonly referred to as “chop shops.”
Sex Offender Registration Requirements (HB43, Rep. McQueen)
Broadening state sex offender registration requirements to require those who are registered as a sex offender in another state to register as such in New Mexico, in addition to requiring sex offender registration for those convicted of human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children by prostitution.
Increased Distribution From Law Enforcement Protection Fund for Acute Crime Interventions (Representative Ruiloba)
Increasing the annual distribution limit to New Mexico law enforcement departments from the Law Enforcement Protection Fund from $20,000 to $45,000 per department and from $600 to $1,000 for each individual officer, enabling additional available funding for law enforcement training and equipment across the state. Furthermore, it enables a distribution to State Police of up to $2 million annually for special deployment use after all local law enforcement distributions have been made.
Increased Penalties for Human Trafficking
Expanding the definition of human trafficking in New Mexico, increasing felony penalties, creating a minimum term of imprisonment of three years in circumstances in which the victim is under the age of sixteen, and precluding authorities from charging victims of human trafficking with prostitution.
Drug Importation (SB1, Sen. Papen and Rep. D. Armstrong)
Creating the Office of Wholesale Drug Importation at the Department of Health and authorizing it to develop, plan, apply for, and negotiate with the federal government for approval of a Canadian wholesale drug importation plan, ensuring drug safety and significantly reducing drug costs for New Mexicans, who currently pay roughly twice as much for brand name drugs than Canadians.
Residency Requirements for Medical Cannabis Program Enrollment (Sen. Ortiz y Pino)
Amending the 2019 legislation regarding residency requirements for the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program to clarify that only residents of the state of New Mexico shall participate in the state’s medical cannabis program in order to protect the program and its patients.
Increasing Access and Affordability in the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange (HB100, Rep. D. Armstrong and Rep. Cadena)
Strengthening New Mexico’s own health insurance coverage and health care laws and systems by giving the board of the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange needed flexibility to increase access and affordability of health insurance plans for New Mexicans. Additionally, codifying into New Mexico state law key provisions of the Affordable Care Act to ensure that New Mexico continues to maintain a strong health insurance exchange.
Tobacco Licensing and Tobacco and E-Cigarette Sales (Sen. Lopez and Rep. Thomson)
Creating a regulatory licensing system for the manufacturing, distribution and retail of tobacco products, to be administered by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division at the Regulation and Licensing Department, and raising the legal age for purchases of e-cigarette and other tobacco products from 18 to 21, aligning New Mexico law with recently enacted federal law, in addition to creating criminal penalties for those who sell these products to purchasers under the age of 21.
Kiki Saavedra Senior Dignity Fund (Rep. D. Armstrong)
Creating a $25 million trust fund to address high-priority areas for seniors across New Mexico to include transportation, food insecurity, physical and behavioral health services, case management, and caregiver services. The funding will address increased access for seniors and adults with disabilities, including veterans, to receive specialty physical and behavioral health care most often only provided in urban areas; increased access to ADA vehicles for seniors and adults with disabilities not able to participate in senior center events, congregate meals and local appointments due to inadequate services; and care coordination through community health workers. Named for the late state Representative Henry “Kiki” Saavedra in honor of his many incredible years of service to New Mexicans, the fund will continue his legacy by specifically targeting expanded access to critical services for one of the state’s most vulnerable populations.
Solar Tax Credit (SB29, Sen. Stewart)
Renewing a prior tax credit for residential, commercial and agricultural solar, proven successful, that previously expired in 2016. Creating an income tax credit of 10% of the purchase and installation costs, with a maximum aggregate of $10 million, to make solar more accessible for New Mexico residences and businesses and enable New Mexicans to take full advantage of the state’s plentiful solar energy.
Electric Vehicle Tax Credit (Sen. Woods and Rep. J. Trujillo)
Creating a $2,500 tax credit for the purchase or lease of an electric vehicle and a $300 tax credit for the installation of at-home charging infrastructure, enabling more New Mexicans to purchase electric vehicles and utilize the electric vehicle framework expanded across the state in last year’s session. The tax credit is doubled for low-income purchasers, enabling a $5,000 tax credit.
PRC Reform (Rep. Small)
Making structural changes to the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) to improve the agency’s functionality for the public, the regulated community, intervenors in dockets, and PRC commissioners and staff. This good-government initiative will result in an agency fully staffed with technical experts that produces timely docket processes and decisions, consistent regulatory outcomes grounded in the law, and fewer ethics complaints and allegations of misconduct, in addition to the possibility of greater investment in the electricity, pipeline, and water infrastructure needed to keep New Mexico’s economy growing.
IRB Authority for Transmission Lines (SB6, Sen. Neville and Sen. Candelaria)
Establishing the authority for counties to issue Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRBs) with the purpose of funding transmission line projects, creating a funding mechanism to deploy more transmission lines across the state.
Community Energy Efficiency Block Grants (Sen. Ortiz y Pino)
Creating an Energy Efficiency Block Grant Program, administered by the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, to provide grants for energy efficiency improvements for low-income households. Established with a $2.5 million appropriation in order to enable low-income households to reduce their utility bills, improve their comfort, and minimize their climate change footprint.