BY WHITNEY HOLLAND
AFT New Mexico
We are just days left in the 2023 Legislative Session and both legislators and our union were busy throughout the weekend to continue to work to advance our supported legislation and ensure that we keep our legislation on track to the best of our ability.
We are thankful to report that our preferred approach to extended learning (HB 130) is continuing to advance, with a small amendment, and the FY ’24 budget (HB 2) heads back to the House or Representatives for concurrence with the changes made by the State Senate.
Unfortunately, a pro-labor bill – House Bill 245 – stalled on the House Floor on Saturday. HB 245 would have banned captive audience meetings during union organizing campaigns.
Saturday, March 11:
House of Representatives
House Bill 245, carried by Reps. Chavez, Anyanonu, Gurrola, and Roybal Caballero, and Senator Ivey-Soto, would ban disciplinary or retaliatory actions against employees who decline to attend a captive audience meeting, typically used by employers to discourage unionization efforts in both private and public sector union representation drives. These tactics have been recently used to discourage many retail workers, including those at Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, and REI, but New Mexico workers have also been subjected to similar tactics.
AFT New Mexico strongly supported HB 245, and it previously passed the House Labor, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. Unfortunately, as HB 245 was being presented on the floor of the House of Representatives, it was determined that there were not sufficient votes within the House Democratic Caucus to pass HB 245. As a result, the legislation was pulled from the agenda. We do not anticipate another hearing on HB 245 to occur this legislative session. We deeply thank our sponsors for their support of this legislation.
House Bill 403/a, carried by Rep. Joy Garratt and Sen. Leo Jaramillo, seeks to institute a multiplier factor to higher education institutions to help adjunct and contingent faculty earn Public Service Loan Forgiveness on a quicker timetable. The act requires higher education institutions to calculate an instructor’s full-time status by multiplying the number of credit hours or student contact hours by a minimum of 4.35 so that an instructor teaching one three-credit hour course would be credited with 13.05 hours of work for the purpose of calculating eligibility for the public service loan forgiveness program.
AFT NM supports HB 403/a, and has partnered with the Student Borrowers Protection Center on this legislation, and it had passed two committee hearings before being passed by the NM House of Representatives, 50-15. The legislation now heads to the Senate Education Committee.
House Bill 130/aa, entitled K-12 Plus Program, has passed both the Senate Finance Committee and the State Senate. Sponsored by Reps. G. Andres Romero, Joy Garratt, and Senator Mimi Stewart, the bill addresses the effort to expand school instructional hours to 1140 per year, inclusive of up to 60 hours of adult time to be used for collaboration, coaching, professional development, and other similar professional activities for elementary schools, and up to 30 hours of adult time for middle and high schools.
AFT New Mexico has consistently testified in support of HB 130/aa to advocate for local control and flexibility. HB 130/aa was amended in Senate Finance on Saturday morning to differentiate the adult time hours (see above) for elementary, middle, and high schools. HB 130/aa was then passed by the State Senate by a vote of 34-6. HB 130/aa and the NM House of Representatives quickly concurred with the Senate amendment late last evening. HB 130/aa is now on the Governor’s desk for her signature.
House Bill 2 & 3 is the FY ’24 Budget, carried by Reps. Nathan Small and Meredith Dixon. The New Mexico State Senate adopted HB 2 & 3 after making amendments to the legislation while it was in the Senate.
Many of the items we advocated for, including higher EA minimum salaries, higher healthcare coverage for educators, higher at-risk and fine arts funding factors, and an average 6% raise for educators are intact in the FY ’24 budget.
The State Senate passed HB 2 & 3 by a vote of 25-16, and the legislation now heads to the NM House of Representatives for concurrence.
AFT NM-supported Legislation on Final Third Reading or Concurrence:
(These are bills which are on a final action before being sent to the Governor.)
House Bill 2 & 3 – General Appropriations Act of 2023
House Bill 126/a – HS Graduation Redesign
House Bill 181 – National Board Certification Units
House Bill 199/a – Increase School At-Risk Index
House Bill 216 – LESC Public Education Study
AFT NM-supported Legislation on the Governor’s Desk:
(These are bills that will become law with the Governor’s signature.)
Please share this update with your networks and continue to stay engaged with us throughout this session.