Legislature: Historic NM Civil Rights Act Passes Committee


Bill would guarantee New Mexicans fair, just, and equal treatment under the law, regardless of race or background

The historic New Mexico Civil Rights Act passed the House State Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee (HSEIC) Monday morning. 

Following recent tragedies and feedback from New Mexico communities, House Bill 4 was introduced by sponsors Speaker of the House Brian Egolf (D – Sante Fe) and Rep. Georgene Louis (D – Albuquerque). The bill creates a legal pathway for New Mexicans to bring claims in state court against public officials who violate their civil rights. The bill also dictates that “qualified immunity,” a federal legal doctrine that makes it nearly impossible to successfully pursue legal action against public officials, cannot be a defense to claims brought under the Act. 

“If you suffer a violation of your rights or are a victim of wrongdoing, you deserve your day in court. Right now, New Mexico law says you don’t get one,” said Speaker Egolf. “The Civil Rights Act seeks to change that by making enforceable the rights guaranteed to New Mexicans in the state constitution.” 

House Bill 4 would also help public officials and law enforcement do their jobs more effectively. It would act as an incentive for government entities to embrace the training, oversight and accountability policies necessary to protect New Mexico communities and prevent the abuse of authority.

“Our brave law enforcement officers often face dangerous and uncertain circumstances in the line of duty,” said Rep. Georgene Louis (D – Albuquerque). “Enhancing the accountability of public officials strengthens the rule of law and builds trust between communities and those sworn to protect and serve them.”

House Bill 4 passed the House State Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee with a 5-3 vote and will now advance to the House Judiciary Committee. 

Members of the public can access committee meetings and House floor sessions via the New Mexico Legislature website on the Webcasts tab. The Roundhouse will be closed to the public for the entirety of the 2021 session to curtail the potential spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.