Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed bills Friday to establish a civil rights commission and generate about $141 million in financial savings over the next year to help the state budget.
She has now signed three of the seven bills passed by lawmakers in the special session that ended Monday.
Lujan Grisham has until July 12 to act on the remaining bills – which include proposals to pull back budget increases, waive tax penalties, require police cameras and establish a low-interest loan program.
The civil rights legislation she signed Friday calls for a nine-member commission to recommend legal changes aimed at protecting constitutional rights. The work would include examining whether to end qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that helps protect police officers and other public employees from liability in court.
House Bill 5 requires a report to legislators by mid-November.
“Our communities are marching to demand changes that rethink policing,” House Speaker Brian Egolf, a Santa Fe Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill, said in a written statement.
The commission, he said, would help the state take “real steps toward a future when violations of civil rights result in swift and certain consequences.”
The solvency measure, Senate Bill 5, would generate savings by canceling capital outlay and road projects that haven’t moved forward, among financial maneuvers.
“This budget fix was able to get us out of some hot water for the time being without having to raise taxes,” Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, a Portales Republican and co-sponsor, said. “But New Mexicans need to understand that the budget solution used one-time money.”