As promised, here is the fourth, and last, installment of Legislative Session Highlights for 2023. Included here are human rights, gun safety, voting rights and election safety.
HUMAN RIGHTS:Treating all New Mexicans with the respect and dignity they deserve
- Human Rights Modernization Act (HB 207) – Modernizing the state’s anti-discrimination law by adding explicit protections for LGBTQ people.
- No life sentences for juveniles, aka the Second Chance Bill (SB 64) – Eliminates life sentences for young offenders and allows parole hearings after 15-25 years.
- Medical and geriatric parole (SB 29) – Allowing early parole for elderly, terminally ill inmates.
- Attorney General Civil Rights Division (SB 426) – Implemented in the AG’s office, which will enforce, intervene and prosecute civil rights violations. The Civil Rights Division will also collect information and make policy recommendations to public bodies relating to the protection of civil rights. Through this legislation, the Attorney General will oversee a centralized and coordinated operation to uphold existing civil rights protections established in the New Mexico Human Rights Act and New Mexico Civil Rights Act.
- No publication required for name change (HB 31) – Protects the safety and privacy of New Mexicans seeking to legally change their name.
- Driver’s license suspension penalties (SB 47) – Eliminates suspension of a driver’s license as a penalty for non-repayment of fines.
Special immigrant juvenile classification (HB 15) – Creates a path for young migrants for whom returning to their home country is not in their best interest, to safely stay in the U.S.
GUN SAFETY: Protecting our families and children from gun violence
- Unlawful access to a firearm by a minor, aka Bennie’s Bill (HB 9) – A safe storage bill to protect children from gun violence and tragic accidents by making sure adults store their firearms responsibly.
- Purchase of firearms for another (HB 306) – Prohibits “straw purchases” of firearms, in which one person purchases firearms for someone who can’t legally own one.
VOTING RIGHTS AND ELECTION SAFETY: Making our elections safe and accessible
- The New Mexico Voting Rights Act (House Bill 4) – Bolsters the safety and integrity of New Mexico’s elections. Includes: streamlining the voter registration process for formerly incarcerated New Mexicans so they can better reintegrate into civic society; establishes the Native American Voting Rights Act to support tribal election officials; creates a voluntary, permanent vote-by-mail list; implements automatic voter registration at the motor vehicle department and other state agencies.
- Election administration changes (Senate Bill 180) – Legislation that modernizes election security and administration in New Mexico by making updates to the Election Code. Focused primarily on provisions to aid election administrators in the efficient conduct of elections, the bill provides measures to secure sensitive voter data, increase compensation for election workers, make permanent the Secretary of State’s election security program, update timelines and procedures for mail-in ballots and allow for electronic nominating petition signatures.
- Senate Bill 43 focuses on those on the front lines of our democracy—election workers and officials—to ensure they are able to safely and effectively administer our elections without fear of intimidation. The crime of intimidation, a fourth-degree felony, will now include acts against employees and agents of the Secretary of State, county clerks’ and municipal clerks’ offices or election officials themselves.
There were 246 bills sent to the governor, 211 bills were signed and the rest vetoed. Part of HB 547 (the tax bill) was partially vetoed. You can check all of this out at http://www.nmlegis.gov
Thanks so much for following what is happening in your government.
Senator Liz Stefanics