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Governor signs bills to help seniors, workers

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Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham urges lawmakers to approve a senior dignity fund during her State of the State address last month. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed one of her legislative priorities into law Wednesday, creating a fund to help needy seniors.

The Kiki Saavedra Senior Dignity Fund – named for an influential lawmaker who died last year – will provide aid to seniors, adults with disabilities and veterans.

“It is well past time that New Mexico steps up for its seniors, supporting their independence and providing for their needs,” Lujan Grisham said in a news release. “We can and will do better for them.”

The Democratic governor also approved two other bills Wednesday – one to promote saving for retirement, the other to expedite the issuance of teaching licenses for military families.

The 2020 legislative session concluded last week. The governor has a March 11 deadline to act on most bills.

The senior fund was one of her priorities this session, highlighted in her State of the State speech to lawmakers on opening day. She had initially sought $25 million for the fund.

The proposal signed Wednesday doesn’t include an appropriation. House Bill 225 establishes the fund itself, and lawmakers can decide when – and how much – to earmark money for the fund.

The legislation passed without a dissenting vote in the House or Senate.

A budget bill still under consideration by the governor would earmark about $7.3 million to get the fund started.

Money in the fund is intended to help seniors – especially those in rural areas – with transportation, food, care giving and health care.

Lujan Grisham on Wednesday also signed:

⋄ House Bill 30, which calls for expediting the issuance of teaching and similar licenses for military spouses and certain veterans. The goal is to help military families – who often move around the world – while they’re stationed in New Mexico.

⋄ House Bill 44, which will create a voluntary retirement-saving program. It’s intended to provide options for workers who don’t get a retirement plan through their employers.


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