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Senate approves proposal to publish NM settlements

Sen. Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque

SANTA FE — The state Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill Friday that aims to shine a light on how much New Mexico spends to settle allegations of discrimination in state agencies.

The proposal, Senate Bill 317, calls for the state to publish the nature of the claims, the agency against whom they were lodged and the total amount of state money used to settle the allegation, including damages and attorney fees.

“The taxpayers of the state have a right to know,” said Sen. Sander Rue, an Albuquerque Republican and co-sponsor of the legislation.

The measure won approval 40-0 and now heads to the House for consideration, with just eight days left in the session. Rep. Linda Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, is co-sponsoring the bill.

Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, said the state needs to have a broader conversation about the cost of litigation against the state.

“This is taxpayer money,” Candelaria said. “I think at the very least we need to be transparent and make that information readily available.”

Under the bill, the settlement information would be published automatically on the state sunshine portal online, after a certain period of time elapses. There would also be some redactions aimed at ensuring people aren’t discouraged from filing claims for fear of having their names disclosed, Rue said.

It would require posting of claims under the state Human Rights Act.

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