Sine Die: House Democrats Achieve Landmark Policy Goals


The second session of the 55th Legislature ended at noon Thursday, concluding a hybrid virtual and in-person session, in which House Democratsdelivered real results for working families across New Mexico. 

In this 30-day legislative session, House Democrats shaped and passed the state’s bipartisan budget, which would make historic investments in education, public safety, environment, and economic development. The House also passed crucial bills to make our communities safer, improve our schools, and put more money back into the pockets of New Mexicans.  

“I am incredibly proud of all that House Democrats accomplished in this short session – we not only created a budget that works for working families, we passed vital legislation to make our communities safer, our schools better, our families thrive, and our economy grow,” said Speaker Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe). “We achieved these goals by listening to each other and working together, with our colleagues in the House and the Senate and with the Governor’s office. We even reached across the aisle to get bipartisan support for our budget and public safety bills.”

In addition to passing the budget and legislation to address crime, improve outcomes for New Mexico’s students, support working families, and strengthen our economy, House Democrats also worked through the night Wednesday in order to pass SB 144, an omnibus voting rights and election security bill. The bill passed the house with a vote of 39 to 30 on Thursday morning, but it was not heard in the Senate before sine die at noon. 

“We pulled together a historic, all-night attempt to get this done. I am very grateful to my House colleagues for sticking together and fighting the good fight,” said House Majority Leader Javier Martínez (D-Albuquerque). “There is obviously more work to do and we will keep standing up for democracy.”

At the conclusion of the session, Speaker Egolf also made a surprise announcement that he would not seek re-election to the House of Representatives. 

“I have enjoyed nearly every minute of service to the state and my constituents. I am energized by the potential of our great state and firmly believe that the future of our beloved New Mexico is incredibly bright,” Speaker Egolf wrote in a statement.  

Key House Democratic Caucus Achievements in the 2022 Legislative Session

Public Safety
House Democrats passed comprehensive legislation that would make communities across New Mexico safer by recruiting and retaining high-quality law-enforcement officers, deterring dangerous, violent crime, and making community investments to address the root causes of crime. 

HB 68 contains several key provisions to deter and prevent violent crime including: cracking down on the market for stolen cars by making it a crime to operate a chop shop, eliminating the statute of limitations for second degree murder, and enhancing penalties for felons who possess firearms and for brandishing fire arms. 

“This bill addresses the crime problem from every angle. It’s balanced, evidence-based and will do more to improve public safety than any previous legislation we have passed,” said Representative Meredith Dixon (D-Albuquerque)

This comprehensive crime bill was sponsored by Representatives Dixon, Pamelya Herndon (D-Albuquerque) and Marian Matthews (D-Albuquerque).

Additionally, the state budget includes funding for 16 percent raises for state police and funding for bonuses to experienced police officers to encourage them to stay on the force, as well as big investments in behavioral health and community programs to help address the root causes of crime. 

The House also made significant investments in New Mexico’s students, schools, and teachers and passed bills to improve outcomes for students across our state.

In order to help our state attract and retain talented teachers, House Democrats passed legislation to increase teacher salaries (SB 1). House Democrats also passed pay increases for teachers of Native American languages to help preserve Native languages and culture in HB 60

“Without language, culture does not survive. Native language must be respected, honored and preserved,” said Representative Derrick Lente (D-Sandia Pueblo), the bill’s sponsor. “Teachers of these languages must receive fair compensation for their important contributions.”

Additionally, House Democrats voted to pass SB 140, the Opportunity Scholarship Act, which creates a pathway to free higher education for adults interested in pursuing a certificate or degree. 

“Many New Mexicans must juggle work and family responsibilities in addition to their coursework; this will make higher education more accessible for everyone in our state,” said Representative Joy Garratt (D-Albuquerque).

Supporting Working Families
During the 2022 legislative session, the House also passed several measures to support working families. 

The House tax plan, HB 163,would ease the tax burden for many working New Mexican families and support seniors, parents, nurses, and local small businesses to flourish. 

“Our tax package was crafted to help as many people as possible, with targeted provisions to ease the burden for those who need it most,” said Representative Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos). “These tax updates will put more money back in the pockets of New Mexicans, help small, local businesses prosper, and attract investment across our state.”

The tax package includes a child income tax credit which would allow for all families to receive an income-based state tax credit for each qualifying child. It would also exclude Social Security from state income tax for many lower and middle class seniors living on fixed incomes. The bill would also reduce the Gross Receipts Tax by 0.25% to alleviate tax burden for small and local businesses. 

HB 163 was sponsored by Representative ChandlerLeader Martínez, Representative Micaela Lara Cadena (D-Mesilla)Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe)andSenator Michael Padilla (D-Albuquerque). 

The House also passed HB 132 which reduces the maximum interest rate for installment loans from 175 percent to 36 percent. The legislation would also limit maximum loan terms for loans of $10 thousand or less to a period of 24 months. 

“This is an important step to improve financial stability for our neighbors who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Representative Susan Herrera (D-Embudo)

HB 132 is sponsored by Representative Herrera, Speaker Egolf, Representatives Dixon, Daymon Ely (D-Corrales), Garratt, Phelps Anderson (DTS-Roswell), and Senator Katy Duhigg (D-Albuquerque).

Strengthening our Economy
House Democrats also worked to diversify our state’s economy and create good-paying jobs for New Mexicans with legislation to support entrepreneurs and small businesses

HB 104, theVenture Capital Program Act, would make investments in new and expanding businesses. These investments are required to be made with venture private equity funds or with New Mexico businesses in early stages of development.

“The best investment we can make is in New Mexico businesses,” said Representative Linda Serrato (D-Santa Fe). “Capital today means economic development and jobs in our communities tomorrow.”

HB 104 was sponsored by Representatives Dixon, Serrato, J Antonio “Moe” Maestas  (D-Albuquerque), Leader Martínez, and Senator Martin Hickey (D-Albuquerque).

HB 7, the Opportunity Enterprise Act, would enhance the availability of commercial real estate to support community economic development programs. It was sponsored by Representative Dixon, Speaker Egolf, and Representative Serrato.

Rural Infrastructure and Environment Protections
House Democrats passed key legislation to support rural communities and protect our environment this session, as well. 

House Joint Resolution 1 would allow voters to amend New Mexico’s Constitution to enable the state to provide necessary utilities and services, particularly in rural and underserved areas. Under this constitutional amendment, the Legislature could appropriate state funds for the creation and delivery of necessary infrastructure and services, such as water, wastewater, internet, and energy, in places where they are needed most. 

“In too many communities across our state families lack broadband service which prevents children from learning, or lack water which creates health issues for families,” said Representative Anthony Allison (D-Fruitland). “This amendment would support the most vulnerable communities in our state that need access to essential services.” 

HJR 1 is sponsored by Representatives Allison and Chandler.

HB 37 would create the Community Energy Efficiency Development (CEED) block grant program to improve energy efficiency and affordability for low-income residents across New Mexico. These grants would be used for targeted energy efficiency projects in underserved communities, such as replacing outdated appliances, retrofitting, and weatherizing homes. 

“These projects will put money back in the pockets of struggling families, while creating local jobs, and reducing energy consumption, to support our efforts to reduce emissions and combat climate change,” said Representative Kristina Ortez (D-Taos).

HB 37 was sponsored by Representatives Ortez, Debra Sariñana (D-Albuquerque), Patricia Roybal Caballero (D-Albuquerque), Tara Lujan (D-Santa Fe), and Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart (D-Albuquerque). 

HB 8 would create the Land Grant Merced assistance fund to provide relief to families in rural land grant communities who continue to rely on the land and acequias.

HB 8 is sponsored by Representative Matthew McQueen (D-Galisteo), Speaker Egolf, and Representatives Ortez, Roger Montoya (D-Velarde), Herrera, Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe), and Senators Elizabeth Stefanics (D-Cerrillos) and Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque).

House Democrats also passed legislation to protect the health and well-being of New Mexicans this session, with measures to ease healthcare enrollment and encourage harm-reduction and investments in Medicaid.

HB 95 would help New Mexicans enroll in health insurance and other programs for which they might qualify, by giving taxpayers the option to consent to the transfer of their information to the Human Services Department or to the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange. HB 95 is sponsored by Representative 

HB 52 aims to prevent overdose deaths by decriminalizing the use of fentanyl test strips, allowing individuals struggling with substance use to test for fentanyl, which is often used to lace other illicit drugs, making them much more addictive and deadly.

“This bill is about saving lives. By preventing overdoses and encouraging harm reduction, we can make it easier for people to seek assistance,” said Representative Tara Lujan (D-Santa Fe).

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

Additionally, the state budget would fully fund Medicaid and eliminate the long waitlist for people with developmental disabilities to receive in-home care.