Legislature: Bill Prohibiting Discrimination By Public Bodies Passes House


Under new legislation passed by the House of Representatives today, public bodies and state agencies will rightly become subject to the same liabilities for discriminatory actions as other employers in the state.

Sponsored by Rep. Brittany Barreras (D-Albuquerque) and Rep. Angelica Rubio (D-Las Cruces), House Bill 192 amends the New Mexico Human Rights Act to clarify that public bodies and state agencies are subject to its provisions. Specifically, it establishes that these entities cannot refuse, limit, or condition services to any person because of their race, age, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, childbirth, physical or mental handicap, serious medical condition, or spousal affiliation.

“Our state Human Rights Act was put into place to protect New Mexicans from discrimination. House Bill 192 confirms that these provisions apply to all public entities, including schools, government offices, and the legislature,” said Rep. Barreras. “We already hold everyone from our plumbers to our barbers to these standards, we should ask the same of our government bodies and staff.” 

“House Bill 192 simply formalizes requirements that should have been in place since the Human Rights Act was created,” said Rep. Rubio. “No New Mexican should be refused services or treated differently because of their gender, race, sexual orientation, or any other identifier. There is no place for prejudice and bigotry in New Mexico, and this bill ensures that offenders within our state agencies are held accountable for their actions.” 

Under the Act, the term “public body” includes: the executive, legislative and judicial branches of state and local governments, all advisory boards, commissions, committees, agencies, or entities created by the constitution or any branch of government that receives any public funding, including political subdivisions, special taxing districts, school districts and institutions of higher education. State agencies encompass any department, institution, board, bureau, commission, district, or committee of government of the state, including every office or officer of any department, institution, board, bureau, commission, district, committee of government of the state, grantee, contractor or other person that receives state funding. 

HB 182 passed the House with a 52-14 vote and will now head to the Senate. 

Members of the public can track legislation on the New Mexico Legislature website, access committee meetings and House floor sessions via the Webcasts tab, or participate by Zoom to provide public comment on committee hearings. During the 2021 Legislative Session, the House of Representatives is focused on passing critical legislation while protecting the health and safety of the public, the staff, and the legislators.