By Susan Dunlap, Matthew Reichbach and Andy Lyman
Governor Michelle Luján Grisham and legislators spoke about legislative successes and what they expect to happen with bills that didn’t cross the finish line, including a pending special session to pass recreational cannabis.
Lujan Grisham said she was proud of how much work was done in a session marred by a pandemic.
“It’s incredibly difficult and challenging, to debate, to draft, to engage in policy making,” she said. “It’s everything from economic relief, education and health care in an environment where you absolutely have to meet the COVID safe practices.”
Particularly, Lujan Grisham praised lawmakers for passing a liquor law reform, approving a proposed constitutional amendment to use state funds to pay for early childhood education and decriminalizing abortion.
Democratic House of Representatives leadership held a press conference a few minutes after adjourning sine die on the House chamber floor to discuss Democratic accomplishments for this session.
Speaker of the House Brian Egolf, of Santa Fe, said the focus for this session was recovery.
The three-pronged approach to recovery, Egolf said, was education, health and the economy.
Of the more than 170 pieces of legislation that passed this year, some of the bills highlighted during the press conference included passage of SB 10, the Respect New México Women and Families Act, which repealed the 1969 statute banning abortion, as well as HB 4 the New México Civil Rights Act, which ends qualified immunity as a legal defense in the state and allows for financial remedy up to $2 million and the potential to recover attorney’s fees if a person’s constitutional rights have been violated.
Luján Grisham signed SB 10 into law in February. She is expected to sign the New México Civil Rights Act as well.
Another bill highlighted by House leadership, HB 20, is one that went through a final vote in the House just an hour before the end of the session. HB 20, or the Healthy Workplaces Act, mandates up to 64 hours of paid sick leave for all private sector employees. Lujan Grisham also supports this bill and is expected to sign it into law.
“No doubt the remote nature of this session, with public health safeguards in place, has slowed some items, though I applaud the Legislature and staff for their incredible perseverance and productivity in the face of challenging circumstances.”
Governor Michelle Luján Grisham
Egolf pointed to the fact that the House now has a majority of women legislators for the first time in New México history.
“It’s incredible seeing the change in composition of the House. It’s a tremendous positive benefit for the Legislature and the entire state,” Egolf said.
Gov. Luján Grisham will call the New México Legislature into special session roughly Wednesday, March 31, to finish the work of legalizing adult-use cannabis.
“Legalized adult-use cannabis is one of the best moves we can make in our work to build a bona fide 21st century economy in New México,” Gov. Luján Grisham said. “And New Mexicans are more than ready: Poll after poll has demonstrated that our state wants this opportunity.
“But rushing through amendments in the final hours of a session, when there’s a mountain of other very important work to be done, is not the right way to do something of this magnitude. No doubt the remote nature of this session, with public health safeguards in place, has slowed some items, though I applaud the Legislature and staff for their incredible perseverance and productivity in the face of challenging circumstances. I look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers to get the job done and done right.”
Susan Dunlap is a Reporter, Matthew Reichbach is the Editor and Andy Lyman is a Reporter with New México Political Report. This story was originally published by New México Political Report.
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