NM State Legislature: What You Need to Know

Currently, New Mexico is a Democrat-controlled state.

The Second Session of the 54th Legislature

December 16, 2019 – January 17, 2020
Legislation may be prefiled
January 21
Opening day (noon)
February 5
Deadline for introduction
February 20
Session ends (noon)
March 11
Legislation not acted upon by governor is pocket vetoed
May 20
Effective date of legislation not a general appropriation bill or a bill carrying an emergency clause or other specified date

Consider what has happened since the Democrats took total control of the legislature in 2019:

  • Efforts to have total gun control which mostly failed but will be back again ( see proposed gun related legislation HB 8, HB 35 HB 40, HB 83, HB 87, SB 8, SB 201, SB 280, and SB 328 at www.nmlegis.gov.
  • Tax increase of $300 plus million despite the fact that NM had a $1.2 billion dollar surplus this year;
  • Tax transfer of $300 million to Hollywood as an inducement to film movies here even though most movie productions are temporary efforts;
  • Rising electric bills as you pay for the “Green New Deal” law that mandates NM go to total renewable energy (Note: So far NM is on the only state in the union that is dumb enough to destroy the reliability of its electric grid by relying totally on very expensive renewal energy).  PNM has already proposed another rate hike for you effective January 2020.  (see SB 489, the Energy Transition Act);
  • Efforts to legalize abortion up to and after birth which failed this year but will be back again;
  • Support for sanctuary cities and no support for border enforcement;
  • Rapid spending growth and efforts to raid NM’s permanent funds (see our web page on why protecting these funds are so important);
  • Pay raises for state and local government employees and politicians and expansion of state government bureaucracy and number of state employees
  • Expansion of education (early childhood education) which means more government control of children and a huge taxpayer burden (currently 60% of all state revenues go to education);
  • Increase in minimum wages (see SB 437); and
  • More regulation, and so much more (see some of additional bills below).

As Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said recently, “… after 6 months: ‘We have a long way to go’”  (https://www.abqjournal.com/1338147/settlements-reached-with-three-mental-health-providers.html)

Every Republican and conservative needs to get out and vote for our candidates.  We can take back New Mexico if you get out and vote!

Look at the 2019 NM Legislature – this ratio has to change.  NM is out-of-balance.  One party rule will not give New Mexicans a voice; it will be a tyranny of the minority.

2019 NM Senate - GOP vs. Dem seats

NM House - GOP 2019 vs. Dem Seats

March 18, 2019  – The 54th Session of the NM Legislature is over – thank goodness!  They certainly tried to do as much damage as possible by raising taxes, taking away some of our freedoms, killing jobs, proposing outrageous spending bills and squandering of taxpayer’s hard earned money and so much more.

The NM Legislation opening day was January 15, 2019   and closed at noon on March 16, 2019.  Any legislation not acted upon by the governor by April 5 is pocket vetoed.  June 14 is the effective date of legislation (not a general appropriation bill or a bill carrying an emergency clauses or other specified date).

A summary of total bills proposed is:

675 Senate Bills including 17 SJM [Senate Joint Memorials]; 19 SJRs [Senate Joint Resolutions]; and 86 SMs [Senate Memorials]

695 House Bills  including 11 HJMs [House Joint Memorials]; 9 HJRs [House Joint Resolutions]; 59 HMs [House Memorials]; and HR 1 [House Resolution]

Top 2019 NM Sponsors of Bills

House Sponsors # Bills
Rep. Christine Trujillo [D] 67
Rep. Elizabeth Thomson [D] 60
Rep. Andrea Romero [D] 53
Rep. Joanne Ferrary [D] 53
Rep. Patricia Roybal Cabellero [D] 50
Senate Sponsors # Bills
Sen. Elizabeth Stefanics [D] 102
Sen. Pete Campos [D] 87
Sen. Linda Lopez [D] 77
Sen. Gerald Ortiz Y Pino [D] 75
Sen. Peter Wirth [D] 62

Some of the key bills signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham are:

  • Senate Bill 22 which establishes an Early Childhood Department of Education

(Creates the Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) as a cabinet-level department to manage, operate and administer all early childhood education, early pre-kindergarten and pre-kindergarten education programs and eligibility, child care assistance programs, and the Early Childhood Care and Education Act (birth to age 5). The first segment of the bill relates to the structure, responsibilities and duties of the new department and the later segment makes reconciling name and several substantive law changes to existing sections of law.

  • Senate Bill 489, the Energy Transition Act

“The Energy Transition Act is a promise to future generations of New Mexicans,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “When we were presented the chance to move toward cleaner sources of energy, we took it, boldly charting a course to a carbon-free future, permanently centering our commitment to lower emissions and setting an example for other states. Crucially, this legislation does not leave our neighbors in San Juan County behind, as we will provide millions for trainings and economic development.”

Senate Bill 489 ensures greater renewable energy production while providing tens of millions of dollars of economic and workforce support for communities impacted by coal plant closures, as well as the development of renewable replacement power in San Juan County.

The legislation raises New Mexico’s renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2040, in addition to requiring 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2045 for investor-owned utilities.

Proposes to amend the Homeowner Association Act to broaden its applicability; provide for alternative dispute resolution; amend disclosure requirements; and give homeowner’s associations authority to levy reasonable fines for violations of or failure to comply with any provision of the community documents. Provides for removal of board members; holding of annual meetings; enforcement of covenants; and dispute resolution. Sets or limits fees to be assessed for preparation of a Disclosure Certificate.

  • Senate Bill 8  – Firearm Sale Background Check

Senate Bill 8 creates a new section of Chapter 30, Article 7 NMSA 1978 making it unlawful to sell a firearm without a background check. Senate Bill 8 prohibits the sale of a firearm without conducting a federal instant background check if the sale is made for a fee or other consideration. The bill excludes the sale of a firearm by a person who holds a valid federal firearms license; to a law enforcement agency; or between two law enforcement officers authorized to carry a firearm.

A federal instant background check is defined as meeting the requirements of 18 U.S.C. Section 922(t) and that does not violate 18 U.S.C section 922(g) or 18 U.S.C. Section 922(n) or state law. This bill proposes an exception for law enforcement, or for sales made “by or to” current holders of valid federal firearms licenses, issued pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 923 (a). A background check under Senate Bill 8 is one that is conducted by a federal firearms licensee (FFL) and is submitted to the national instant criminal background check system (NICS) to determine whether an individual is prohibited from purchasing a firearm.

The bill makes a violation of the provisions of this section a misdemeanor. Each party who violates this new section of Chapter 30 may each be charged separately for the unlawful sale of the firearm. Each firearm sold that violates this new section constitutes a separate offense but two or more offenses may be charged together.

Some key bills passed by both Houses and sent to the Governor for signature are:

  • House Bill 6 – Tax Changes

When signed into law, this bill will raise taxes by $580 million a year.  The state is projecting a $1.1 billion surplus but says it still need to raise our taxes to diversity taxing sources.  The State says because our energy market is volatile we need to chart a different course than our neighboring states.  Please note that NM ranks 8th in the nation in energy production and is expected to have another surplus next year from oil and gas revenues.  Highlights of this bill are:

  • Expands the Gross Receipt Tax (GRT) to Internet sellers
  • Cigarette and E-cig tax increase – $1.62 to $2.00 per pack
  • Motor Vehicle excise tax increase – 3% to 4.2%; $11.50 per vehicle annual registration
  • New tax on nonprofit hospitals – Medicaid offset
  • Increases Local Option Compensating tax
  • Imposes GRT on large nonprofits such as LANL – Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Doubles Working Families Tax Credit and a $4000 deduction for the 2nd dependent and beyond
  • Reinstates marriage penalties – $151 to $1,111
  • Eliminates the 50% deduction on capital gains
  • Penalizes Chapter 5 Corporations, LLCs, Proprietorships – 6.5%. C-Corps pay 5.9%
  • Tax increase dramatic on middle-class New Mexicans.
  • The proposed increase in  personal income tax rates will create new tax brackets up to 6.9% which is higher than any of the surrounding states (AZ – 4.4%; CO – 4.63%; OK – 5%; NV – 0%; TX – 0%; or Utah – 4.95%)

To summarize these HB 6 changes will make NM less competitive with other states, hurts the middle class, and job creators.  Please note that the last administration that raised personal income taxes was Governor Bill “Pay to Play” Richardson, another Democrat.

  • SB 672 – Early & Auto Voter Registration

This bill allows “qualified” voters to register during early voting periods.  Qualified voters may register to vote at the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) or when receiving public benefits.  The Secretary of State, Taxation & Revenue Department (TRD), and the Human Services Department (HSD) all indicated this could be done at a minimal cost with no additional appropriations needed (we all know how accurate the Government is with those budget estimates!).  These departments have to develop procedures to address proposed changes.  Unfortunately, HSD does not have a process to identify if a qualified elector has completed another voter registration at another State of NM Agency.  There may be issues with some of the language in this bill as well as the process itself.   The Senate accepted six House amendments to this bill, including allowing a qualified elector to register to vote or update a registration at a voting location on election day beginning January 1, 2021.  These changes increase the probability for voter fraud by overloading the county clerks with an increasing burden to verify that a person is a “qualified voter” with a verifiable address and that this person does not have duplicate voter registrations from other State Agencies.  The number of provisional ballots could increase significantly on election day.

  • HB 370 – Criminal Record Expungement Act

A bill that would remove criminal history questions from initial job applications in the private sector is headed to the governor’s desk.  Under the new bill, private employers may take prior convictions into consideration after an initial review of the job application and a discussion of employment.  See https://www.kob.com/politics-news/ban-the-box-bill-sent-to-new-mexico-governor/5276417/ for complete article.

  • SB 437 – RAISE MINIMUM WAGE & CREATE SEPARATE ONE

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed the law to increase the statewide minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2023.

  • The $12 level is higher than what had been approved in the Senate, but it doesn’t have the inflation adjustments sought by the House.
  • Under the proposal headed to Lujan Grisham, the minimum wage would climb to $9 at the beginning of 2020, to $10.50 in 2021, $11.50 in 2022, and to $12 in 2023.
  • There would be no inflation adjustment after that.
  • Sets a separate, lower wage for students with after-school or summer jobs — of $8.50 an hour, after October 1, 2019.
  • The minimum wage for tipped workers would also climb to $3 per hour after April 1, 2020.
  • The legislation would not pre-empt local jurisdictions that have established higher minimums on their own, such as Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

One business owner expressed the potential impact of this law as follows:

“Others argue this increase might not be a win for all. New Mexicans worry that family-run and small businesses, especially in rural parts, will be hurt.
“But it is going to be a struggle for the next few years, it will be a struggle,” said Gerald Martinez, owner of the Stop and Eat.
Martinez said they’re not worried about the phased-in increases, but worry upping the minimum wage might make other businesses, well, go out of business.”

See news articles at:  https://www.easternnewmexiconews.com/story/2019/03/17/news/minimum-wage-proposal-heads-to-governor/161166.html.

Or, https://www.krqe.com/news/new-mexico/new-mexico-governor-signs-bill-to-increase-minimum-wage/1893232990?utm_source=newsfore&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1921&tqid=jqPkM2k5E0EBjAFj5Sm5szUuZSQp_mqjbhlGdbe6fQ

For a comparison of New Mexico minimum wage rates with other states, go to:  http://www.ncsl.org/research/labor-and-employment/state-minimum-wage-chart.aspx#Table

  • HB 55 – Agreement to Elect President by Popular Vote

Governor Grisham has signed this bill.  It totally destroys New Mexico’s standing in determining who will be the winner of Presidential elections.  The electoral college provides small states with representation that the national popular vote does not.  In essence, NM has no voice in national elections.  A site page will be added to explain the purpose of the Electoral College and why it is so important for states such as New Mexico to be in the Electoral College.

2019 NM Budget – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham rolled out a $7.1 billion budget plan. The spending plan for the 2020 budget year would increase year-over-year state spending by $806.6 million over current levels.  It increases minimum New Mexico starting teacher pay to $41,000 per year, adds an extra three days to the state’s school year and ramps up state spending on statewide pre-kindergarden programs to unprecedented levels.  It increases public school spending by 18% and higher education by 3.3%.

2018 NM Budget – $6.32 billion. Of this budget approximately 57% of all dollars go to education ranging from Pre-K to Higher Education.

  • 2018 NM Legislature – Status of legislation, memorials, and resolutions as of 3-1-2018
    • 313 bills, memorials, and resolutions proposed
    • 112 bills proposed. 110 bills passed by the Legislature.  3 bills signed
    • 201 memorials proposed. 104 memorials signed
    • 4 resolutions (2 joint and 2 individual house passed but not signed

Legislative Definitions (https://www.nmlegis.gov/Glossary).  Information not contained in the glossary is highlighted in bold print.

  •  Bills (HBs or SBs) – The form, used to propose laws, that has been introduced in the legislature and may originate in either house. Bills create, empower, impose duties or obligations, prohibit acts, appropriate money or do any combination of these things
  •  Resolutions – . A formal declaration of the legislature concerning a certain subject it cannot or does not wish to control by law.  Resolutions are either joint, concurrent or simple, and require no action on the part of the governor.  The most common resolution is a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the constitution of New Mexico.  Resolutions may also be used to propose or ratify amendments to the United States constitution and other specified purposes.
  •  Memorials – (HMs or SMs) are unfunded mandates which agencies may ignore. A formal expression of legislative desire, usually addressed to another governmental body, in the form of a petition or declaration of intent. A memorial does not have the force of law. Memorials can be either joint or simple and require no action on the part of the governor. Joint memorials are acted on by both houses. Simple memorials are those of only one house and do not require the approval or acquiescence of the other house.