Governor signs NM paid sick leave legislation - Albuquerque Journal

Governor signs NM paid sick leave legislation

New Mexico will join about 15 other states that mandate businesses provide paid sick leave policies for their employees under legislation signed Thursday by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – New Mexico will join about 15 other states in requiring businesses to provide paid sick leave for their workers – but not until July of next year – under a measure signed into law Thursday by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The sick leave bill, House Bill 20, was one of 10 bills signed by the governor, who faces a Friday deadline to act on most measures passed during the 60-day legislative session that ended last month.

It generated pointed debate at the Roundhouse during the session after a year in which the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on workers and businesses alike.

Even the governor expressed misgivings about the impact the paid leave bill could have on businesses, but she threw her support behind the legislation after backers agreed to postpone its effective date from this summer to July 2022.

“This is, point blank, a humane policy for workers,” Lujan Grisham said in a Thursday statement after signing the bill. “No one should ever be compelled to come to work when they are sick. And no worker should ever feel they must choose between their health and their livelihood.”

Once it takes effect next year, the new law will be among the nation’s most generous by allowing workers to take up to 64 hours of accrued leave per year.

The union-backed bill will specifically permit employees to use that accumulated leave for illnesses, injuries, family medical appointments and absences due to domestic abuse or sexual assault.

Critics argued it will impose another financial burden on businesses whose sales have plummeted during the pandemic, but supporters described their concerns as overblown at a time when many businesses are getting state and federal financial aid.

Many grocery store employees and other front-line workers testified during the legislative session they sometimes had to pick between going to work while sick during the pandemic, or staying home and risking losing part of their paycheck.

Bellanira Lozano, a Santa Fe single mother who works as a domestic worker and caretaker, said Thursday the pandemic hit her family hard.

“This law means families like mine won’t have to decide between getting paid or going to work sick,” said Lozano, who is a member of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a nonprofit organization that was among a coalition of groups that advocated for the new law.

Meanwhile, the proposal approved by lawmakers does not exempt small employers, as some other states have done. But it will allow employers that already offer paid leave programs to qualify under the law as long as they meet its minimum terms.

The new law will apply to all parts of New Mexico, including Bernalillo County where a paid sick leave ordinance for unincorporated parts of the county is in place but is not as generous as the law set to take effect next year.

Aid-in-dying OK’d

The governor also signed Thursday aid-in-dying legislation that will allow terminally ill New Mexicans to seek medical aid to end their lives.

Previous attempts to pass the bill, officially known as the End-of-Life Options Act, had stalled at the Roundhouse, but this year’s version passed both the House and Senate amid emotional debate.

“Every New Mexican deserves to live life as they choose, and to maintain that free will and autonomy when facing their final days with a terminal illness,” said Rep. Debbie Armstrong, D-Albuquerque, who sponsored the bill during this year’s session.

However, the legislation was opposed by the state’s Roman Catholic bishops, among others, who expressed concerns that it could harm vulnerable individuals.

Once the law takes effect May 18, patients themselves will have to self-administer life-ending medicine. And health care providers will only be allowed to prescribe the medication to a patient after determining the person has a terminal illness and the mental capacity to make the decision.

The new law is named after Elizabeth Whitefield, a retired judge who testified four years ago while battling cancer in favor of similar legislation. She died roughly a year-and-a-half after her testimony.

136 bills signed

With the latest round of bill action, Lujan Grisham has now signed 136 bills passed by lawmakers during the 60-day session and vetoed one bill dealing with fees for water testing.

The remaining 21 bills still awaiting action before Friday’s deadline include a $7.4 billion budget bill for the coming fiscal year and a $518 million capital outlay package.

The governor has more time to consider bills passed in last week’s two-day special session.

Proposals to legalize retail sales of marijuana and expunge cannabis convictions from court records face an April 20 deadline for action by Lujan Grisham.




Home » Journal North » Journal North Recent News » Governor signs NM paid sick leave legislation

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
Albuquerque police called in the bomb squad. It turned ...
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque police called out the bomb ... Albuquerque police called out the bomb squad when they found what they thought was a pipe bomb in a stolen vehicle Thursday afternoon. The ...
Traditional Spanish Market gets new leadership
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque-based Atrisco Heritage Foundation to take ... Albuquerque-based Atrisco Heritage Foundation to take the reins
After Denver school shooting, an outcry erupts over security
ABQnews Seeker
DENVER (AP) -- Outraged Denver students ... DENVER (AP) -- Outraged Denver students and parents demanded better school security and pushed for tighter firearm controls Thursday, a day after a 17-year-old ...
New Mexico tribe keeps title to portion of national ...
ABQnews Seeker
10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals issues ... 10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals issues a split ruling in the case brought by Jemez Pueblo over lands it was seeking to reclaim in ...
BCSO details deputy shootout with rifle-wielding suspect
ABQnews Seeker
On Thursday, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s ... On Thursday, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office detailed the March 12 shootout that ended after deputy Jeremy Ruckman wounded Santillano during the gunfire exchange ...
Photos: Carlsbad beats Cleveland, 13-3, during the first round ...
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque police: Fatal shooting at convenience store could be ...
ABQnews Seeker
A suspect has been detained after ... A suspect has been detained after one person was shot to death and another injured in an overnight shooting in Northwest Albuquerque.
'Better Call Saul' final season hits Netflix on April ...
ABQnews Seeker
April 18, 2023. This is the ... April 18, 2023. This is the day the sixth and final season of 'Better Call Saul' will hit Netflix. The final season will hit ...
$14.3M grant could make Acoma Pueblo’s internet problems ‘a ...
ABQnews Seeker
The federal government on Thursday announced ... The federal government on Thursday announced the tribe has been awarded $14.3 million for a broadband project.