NM Legislative Session Roundup

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Graphic by Diego Sanchez '22

Laws shape the world we live in, from the things we eat, to the roads we drive on, and to the jobs we work. Thus, when New Mexico’s lawmakers meet to discuss the bills that will help shape New Mexico’s future, we eagerly await news of what’s been passed, signed and will never see the light of day. From January 21st to February 20th, 2020, the New Mexico legislature met to discuss the bills and resolutions that would go into effect come May 20th, 2020. On the docket were bills related to healthcare, environmental protection, education, and of course, preserving boats.
One of the most significant pieces of legislation concerns the pricing of prescription drugs, such as HB292 or the Prescription Drug Cost Sharing bill. HB292 would ensure that the amount paid by any individual for life saving drugs such as insulin will not exceed 50 dollars per 30-day supply. Prescription Drug Cost Sharing passed the House of Representatives—with a unanimous vote— and the Senate—with a 61 to 2 majority.
Regarding environmental concerns, both the Senate and House passed the Electronic Vehicle Income Tax credit bill, which provides a tax incentive for New Mexicans to buy and drive the more environmentally friendly electric vehicles. SB29, which also passed both the House and Senate, provides tax breaks to individuals and businesses who install solar panels on or after January 1st, 2020. The bill is still waiting on the governor’s signature, however.
The Extreme Risk Firearm Act also passed both the House and Senate. The bill allows court orders to require individuals deemed “high risk” by a reporting party— who could be a friend, family member, or coworker— to relinquish firearms for “some period.” However, the bill does not specify how long the probation will last. The Extreme Risk Firearm act is more polarizing than much of the other pieces of legislation, passing with 39 votes in affirmation and 31 in negation in the House of Representatives and 22 votes in affirmation and 20 in negation in the Senate.
Also passed was the No Reduced School Meal Copayments which would allow public and charter schools to provide school breakfasts and lunches to students with state funding instead of charging them a reduced copay.
Of course, not every bill can be a winner. Legislation that was perhaps not at the forefront of New Mexicans’ minds was SM63, a bill to display the bells of the USS New Mexico, a retired warship launched in 1917. So whether you are concerned with ships or school lunches, medicine or maritime weaponry\; the New Mexico legislative session had a little bit of everything.
With a focus on improving quality of life for lower income New Mexicans, the New Mexico Legislature seems to indicate a leaning towards more liberal policies. Some of the legislation, for instance, to keep highways beautiful, create an official UNM Day or create a memorial for the bells of an old warship, seems a tad silly, especially when compared to the high stakes of healthcare and gun control. However, regardless of individual policy or opinions, the legislature has done their job well. A focus on ensuring New Mexican citizens are safe, well-fed and have life saving medicines is a step in a good direction. And of course, who doesn’t love warship bells?