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Legislature 2019: Session summary

Legislators passed bills with wide-ranging implications for New Mexico’s future.

What they did: The 2019 legislative session was one of the busiest in recent state history. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has until April 5 to act on bills passed during the final three days of the session, which ended Saturday at noon. Here is a summary of some of the legislation debated during the 60-day session:

Budget/taxes

Passed: A $7 billion budget bill with hefty spending increase for public schools; a broad tax package that increases some tax rates and expands a working families tax credit; lifting the annual spending cap on film incentives from $50 million to $110 million; $933 million package for infrastructure projects.

Failed: Expanding early childhood education by tapping into the Land Grant Permanent Fund; increasing the state’s gasoline tax rate by 10 cents per gallon; allowing municipalities in the Oil Patch to impose a 5 percent tenancy tax on long-term renters.

Guns

Passed: Requiring background checks before nearly any firearm sale; prohibiting gun possession by domestic abusers or people subject to an order of protection under the Family Violence Protection Act.

Failed: Allowing courts to order the temporary taking of guns from someone deemed an immediate threat; criminal penalties for failing to properly secure firearm arms around children.

Business/labor

Passed: Raising the statewide minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2023; regulating the production, research and manufacturing of hemp; doubling state investment the nonprofit Small Business Investment Corp.; barring counties from enforcing local “right-to-work” ordinances.

Failed: Capping interest rates for payday loans at 36 percent.

Education

Passed: Creating a Cabinet-level department of early childhood education; repealing the state’s A-F grading system for schools; increasing pay for teachers; establishing four centers of excellence at colleges and universities; extending school year.

Failed: Implementing a moratorium on new charter schools around the state through 2021.

Ethics/transparency

Passed: Setting the powers and procedures of a voter-approved ethics commission; requiring lobbyists to start reporting their cumulative spending on individual meals or other items that cost less than $100 each.

Failed: Allowing government agencies to withhold the identities of all but three finalists for some public jobs; making it clear that the University of New Mexico Foundation and similar groups must operate in public and release public records upon request.

Drugs

Passed: Reducing penalties for marijuana possession.

Failed: Legalizing recreational marijuana through state-run stores; making possession of all types of drugs a misdemeanor offense; setting new guidelines on driving under the influence of drugs.

Elections

Passed: Overhauling campaign finance regulations; creating legislative caucus committees; allowing voter registration on Election Day; expanding automated voter registration at Motor Vehicle Division; signing New Mexico onto national popular vote compact.

Failed: Opening primary elections to independent voters.

Criminal Justice

Passed: Allowing people to seek court approval to wipe an arrest or conviction from their records; creating a data-sharing network for criminal justice agencies; expanding pre-prosecution diversion; prohibiting employers from asking job-seekers about criminal history on an initial application.

Failed: Revising “three strikes” law; eliminating the statute of limitations for second-degree murder.

Health/family

Passed: Allowing medical marijuana at school and making other changes to the medical cannabis program; requiring health insurance policies to cover contraception; adding diaper-changing stations to new restrooms.

Failed: Repealing the state’s 1969 anti-abortion law; allowing a terminally ill patient to seek a doctor’s help to end their life; abandoning biannual time changes.

Environment/wildlife

Passed: Banning coyote-killing contests; establishing and office of outdoor recreation; identifying and protecting wildlife corridors.

Failed: Making trapping illegal on public lands; water planning by Interstate Stream Commission; creating state council to prepare for climate change.

Energy

Passed: Establishing an Energy Transition Act to move to carbon-free energy generation by 2045; outlining new rules dealing with violations by oil and gas operators.

Failed: Imposing a four-year moratorium on fracking; bringing back a personal income tax credit for installing solar panels; raising royalty rates on oil and gas production on some state trust lands.

 

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