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March 10, 2023

Updated: Jan 26

HB 466/a – Ethics Commission Jurisdiction

Amends the State Ethics Commission Act to clarify over whom the commission has jurisdiction and to enumerate the laws it enforces.

This legislation changes the determination of an ethics complaint from being determined by the General Counsel to an independent hearing officer and adds the independent hearing officer that determines probable cause cannot participate in the adjudication of the complaint.

This bill passed the house unanimously.

HB 384/cs – Social Worker & Veterinarian Licensure

House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee substitute for HB384 replaces a seven-page bill dealing only with expedited licensure for veterinarians and social workers with a 51-page bill that makes numerous changes to the Uniform Licensing Act. This bill tracks with other bills proposed during this session in an attempt to conform and unify professional licensure requirements. It retains the original bill’s provisions for expedited and temporary licensure for veterinarians, amends the original’s provisions concerning social workers, and adds provisions for physicians. It transfers authority over interior designers to the Regulation and Licensing Department. It amends provisions relating to hearings before a licensing board and distinguishes probation of a licensee from suspension of a license; it also provides for summary suspension of a license or probation of a licensee.

This bill passed the house unanimously.

HB 306/cs – Purchase of Firearms for Another

HB 306CS would prohibit the purchase of a firearm for someone a buyer knows to be a felon, is otherwise prohibited from owning a firearm, or intends to transfer it to such a person to commit a crime with it. A person who makes such purchase would be guilty of a fourth-degree felony.

This bill passed the house 62 – 3. I voted yes.

HB 527 – Opioid Settlement Fund

House Health and Human Services Committee substitute for HB527, a dummy bill, creates two new funds to hold moneys that are coming or have already come to the state from settlement of lawsuits against opioid distributors and others. The first is the Opioid Settlement Restricted Fund (“Settlement Fund”), to hold and invest the moneys from various opioid settlement agreements; and the second is a pour-over fund, the Opioid Crisis Recovery Fund (“Crisis Recovery Fund”) that will receive annual distributions from the Settlement Fund for the Legislature to make appropriations to address costs to the state of the health and social crises created by opioid addictions. The bill appropriates $20.0 million (GF, non-reverting) from the Settlement Fund to the Crisis Recovery Fund for FY 2023 and subsequent years.

This bill passed the house unanimously.

HB 366 – Additional Disabled Veteran License Plates

Directs the Motor Vehicle Division to issue a special registration plate indicating support for Disabled Veterans at a cost of $50 to registration fee and a $40 annual renewal fee, $10 of which is appropriated to the Department of Transportation for the cost of making and issuing the plates. Directs the department to issue additional disabled veteran plates, in excess of the 2 plates issued, without a fee to a person who is qualified to receive disabled veteran plates, with the issue paying standard plate and registration fees for the additional registration plates.

This bill passed the house unanimously.

HB 395/a – Dev. Disability Support Provider Employees

Amends the Developmental Disabilities Act to require direct support provider agencies to submit annual reports on employee numbers, wages, benefits, and demographic data. Directs the Department of Health to conduct a biennial cost study to determine reimbursement rates for all service providers.

This bill passed the house unanimously.

HB 525 – Water Project Fund Projects

House Agriculture, Acequias and Water Resources Committee substitute for HB525 authorizes the New Mexico Finance Authority to make loans or grants to the Water Project Fund to 59 entities for water projects around the state including water conservation, treatment, recycling, or reuse; flood prevention; water storage, conveyance, and delivery; and additional watershed restoration and management.

This bill passed the house unanimously.

HB 280 – American Indian Ed Tech Assistance Centers

Requires the Higher Education Department (HED) to establish two American Indian Education Technical Assistance Centers to support tribal education departments and communities. The centers shall be located in two geographically distinct regions and assist all Native Americans in the state. Requires HED to issue Requests for Proposals for operation of the centers. Requires extensive collaboration with the full range of agencies and entities involved with or providing education services to Native Americans. Appropriates $2.25 million (GF, non-reverting) to HED to establish the centers.

This bill passed the house unanimously.

HB 424 – Apprenticeship Council Appointive Authority

Clarifies that the Secretary of Workforce Solutions has statutory authority to appoint members of the Apprenticeship Council. Updates language in statute under 50-7-3 to reflect contemporary terms for departments and department leaders who interact with the Apprenticeship Council.

This bill passed the house 58 – 5. I voted yes.

HB 401 – Rename Technology for Education Act

Renames and modernizes the Technology for Education Act as the “Digital Equity in Education Act” with reframed Public Education Department duties. Eliminates the Education Technology Bureau within PED; reconstitutes membership of the Council on Technology in Education and its duties; and delegates greater discretionary authority to PED to distribute money from the Education Technology Fund to address its restated purposes. Repeals the Education Technology Deficiencies Correction Fund and the Education Technology Opportunity Program. Includes new definitions.

This bill passed the house unanimously.

HB 330/a – Farm & Ranch Laborer Worker’s Comp

Makes provisions of The Workers Compensation Act applicable to farm and ranch laborers. Under existing law farm and ranch laborers are exempt from coverage.

This is a Civil Rights Attorney Bill with a history back to 2016 due to a New Mexico Supreme Court ruling.

Unfortunately, this bill passed the house 47 – 18. I voted no.

HB 337/cs – Early Childhood Department Background Checks

Requires the Early Childhood Education and Care Department to extend background checks to staff members and volunteers of department-contracted providers during the application process for licensure or registration as a childcare facility or child care home program or for employment or volunteering at a licensed child care facility or child care home program.

Who would have thought we would have to make that a law to ensure New Mexico aligns with Federal Guidelines.

This bill passed the house unanimously.

HB 189 – Educational Retirement Changes

Allows professional services contracts for services required to design, develop, implement, or operate the pension administrative system of the Educational Retirement Board to exceed a term of four years. Allows eligible employees of Southeast New Mexico College to elect to participate in the alternative educational retirement plan within 90 days of the initial date. Requires retirement benefits be distributed in accordance with 26 USC 401(a)(9), as amended, and regulations thereunder.

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