Bills Focused On Expanding Rural Healthcare And Addressing Fentanyl Crisis Pass Committee


Two critical health and wellness bills passed the Health & Human Services Committee with unanimous support today.

“Our small towns and rural communities are struggling to attract and keep health care providers. This bill will help bring more providers to rural and underserved communities, so that New Mexicans can access the care they need,” said Representative Marian Matthews (D-Albuquerque).

HB 52 aims to prevent overdose deaths and encourage drug users to seek treatment by updating New Mexico’s Harm Reduction Program, so that possession of strips used to test drugs for traces of deadly fentanyl will no longer be grounds for arrest and criminal penalties. This would enable individuals struggling with substance use to avoid accidental overdose by testing for fentanyl, which is often used to lace other illicit drugs, making them much more addictive and deadly. Studies also show that individuals who use harm reduction materials such as testing strips are more likely to seek treatment, and have better long term outcomes.

“Right now, the fentanyl crisis is leading to record overdose death rates,” said Representative Tara Lujan (D-Santa Fe). “This bill will help us save lives, by removing stigma and reducing the risk of accidental overdose.

HB 52 is sponsored by Representatives Lujan, Dayan Hochman-Vigil (D-Albuquerque), and Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos), and Senators Katy M. Duhigg (D-Albuquerque) and Linda M. Lopez (D-Albuquerque).

The Roundhouse is open to the public for the session. Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination will be required to enter the building. Members of the public can view floor sessions and committee meetings on the New Mexico legislature’s Webcasts tab, and provide comment via phone or Zoom as directed on the daily schedule.