Legislature 2023: Top issues to watch - Albuquerque Journal

Legislature 2023: Top issues to watch

Hundreds of bills are expected to be filed during this year’s 60-day session. Here are some proposals that could generate debate.

BUDGET/TAXES • Increase alcohol tax rate • Reduce state’s gross receipts tax base rate • Double cigarette tax from $2 per pack to $4 per pack • Add additional beneficiaries to early childhood trust fund • Establish new trust funds to provide future funding inflows for state programs

EDUCATION • Provide free school meals for all K-12 students • Extend school year by increasing minimum number of required instructional hours • Update high school graduation requirements • Deliver extra funding to schools for instruction of at-risk students • Establish a Student Loan Bill of Rights • Reduce health insurance costs for educators

ENVIRONMENT/ENERGY • Make it a constitutional right for New Mexicans to have access to clean water and air • Increase funding for dams and municipal water systems • Establish a clean fuel standard requiring a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions • Create a state-sponsored research and development program for geothermal energy • Enshrine climate change-related executive orders in state law

CRIME/GUN SAFETY • Increase minimum buying age for AR-15-style rifles from 18 to 21 • Make it a crime for adults to fail to keep firearms out of children’s reach • Establish law to strengthen prosecution of organized retail crime • Require periodic updates to law enforcement training standards • Amend state’s “red flag” gun law to make it easier to temporarily seize firearms from people deemed a threat to themselves or others • Allow experienced officers from other states to buy into New Mexico’s public pension system if they transfer to a local law enforcement agency

COURTS • Eliminate fees related to misdemeanor and traffic offenses • Make it easier to hold defendants accused of certain violent crimes behind bars until trial • Prohibit life sentences without possibility of parole for juveniles convicted of first-degree murder • Strengthen law on financial exploitation of older adults • Revise procedures for placing a child in protective custody to ensure their safety

VOTING/ELECTIONS • Allow registered independents to vote in primary elections • Expand disclosure of independent expenditures • Establish regulations for candidates who make loans to their campaigns • Empower independent redistricting committee to draw districts after each census

PUBLIC HEALTH • Establish ombudsman to oversee Children, Youth and Families Department • Codify access to abortion services in state law • Protect providers or patients who travel to New Mexico to avoid anti-abortion laws • Expand telehealth and build clinics in rural areas • Tap into newly created fund to help expand health insurance coverage and reduce costs for low-income individuals

ETHICS/GOVERNMENT • Revise structure of Legislature and allow salaries for lawmakers • Impose guardrails on governor’s emergency powers • Remove “gag order” on individuals who file legislative harassment complaints • Increase civil penalty for violations of Governmental Conduct Act • Require additional disclosures by lobbyists about their work • Establish oversight board for prisons

HOUSING/HOMELESSNESS • Repeal state prohibition on rent control • Enact restrictions on panhandling and trespassing by homeless individuals • Increase funding for affordable housing programs • Change landlord-tenant law to give people more time to catch up on rent

BUSINESS/LABOR • Tie future minimum wage increases to annual inflation • Create paid family medical leave program for employees • Revise medical malpractice law • Establish institute at New Mexico State University to support rural and tribal development • Legalize online sports betting • Study possibility of high-speed train connecting New Mexico and Colorado

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