Roundhouse roundup: 6 major stories from New Mexico’s legislative session for the week ending Feb. 3 - Albuquerque Journal

Roundhouse roundup: 6 major stories from New Mexico’s legislative session for the week ending Feb. 3

From left, Albuquerque Academy seniors Sophia Liem, Mireya Macías and Noor Ali hold feminine hygiene products in a bathroom at their school on Jan. 25. The seniors lobbied for Albuquerque Academy to provide female hygiene products for students at the school, and are working to expand the initiative statewide. (Chancey Bush/ Albuquerque Journal)

Students showed up for their passion projects this week, while fissures around criminal justice system issues deepened as New Mexico lawmakers wrapped up their second full week of the 2023 legislative session, which kicked off Jan. 17.

Here’s a recap of some of the major stories this week:

From the kids

Lawmakers heard from two batches of passionate youngsters this week. Albuquerque Academy seniors Noor Ali, Sophia Liem and Mireya Macías researched, lobbied and helped draft House Bill 134, which ​​would require New Mexico public schools to stock free tampons and other feminine hygiene products in their bathrooms. Meanwhile, fifth-grade students from Monte Vista Elementary School in Las Cruces served as expert witnesses for Senate Bill 188, which would enshrine the scent of green chile roasting in the fall as the state’s official aroma. 

Money in your pocket?

A bill providing $750 rebates for individual taxpayers — married couples filing jointly would get $1,500 checks — was unanimously approved Thursday in a Senate committee and could be poised to advance quickly to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk. The measure – Senate Bill 10, cosponsored by Sen. Benny Shendo, Jr. of Jemez Pueblo, Rep. Christine Chandler of Los Alamos, Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth of Santa Fe and House Speaker Javier Martínez of Albuquerque, all Democrats – would provide rebate checks to an estimated 875,000 tax filers around the state, regardless of income level. The number also includes married couples, meaning the total amount of adults receiving financial relief under the proposal could be even higher.

Juvenile justice reform

Lawmakers are considering a proposal to prohibit life sentences without the possibility of release or parole for serious youthful offenders. The law would apply to individuals serving long adult sentences for crimes committed when they were 14 to 17 years old. A similar proposal failed last year; this year’s measure, Senate Bill 64 would outline a tiered system of timing for parole hearings — rather than setting them all at 15 years, last year’s proposal would have. Under this year’s bill, for first-degree murder, an individual would be eligible for parole 20 years into their sentence. For first-degree murder with more than one victim, it would be set at 25 years. The 15-year proposal would remain for others. Release wouldn’t be guaranteed, just a parole hearing.

In other justice system news

Deep divisions plagued discussions about proposed overhauls of New Mexico’s pretrial detention system this week – both along party lines and within Democrats’ own ranks. House Joint Resolution 9, which would make more defendants eligible for pretrial detention, survived a divided committee hearing this week by the skin of its teeth. Democrats on the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee refused to recommend passage of the measure, but a bipartisan 5-2 majority agreed to forward it on without a recommendation. Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers repeatedly rejected a batch of crime bills sponsored by Republican Rep. Bill Rehm of Albuquerque, including measures to expand the state’s three-strikes law, increase penalties for certain crimes and make it a felony to carry a firearm during a drug deal.

Burn debate reignited

A bill seeking to curtail the use of prescribed burns in New Mexico’s gusty spring season is moving forward after being revived at the Roundhouse. The legislation – Senate Bill 21, sponsored by Sen. Ron Griggs, R-Alamogordo – previously stalled in a committee amid concern about how it would impact forest managers, farmers and others who use controlled burns as a tool. But it was brought back after changes were made to the bill that would still allow prescribed burns to be ignited in spring months — but not on days when the National Weather Service has issued a “red flag warning” signaling elevated fire danger.

Rural health care access

A proposal to use some of New Mexico’s revenue windfall to bolster health care services in rural parts of the state where health care services and hospitals are few and far between, moved through committee this week. The legislation could free up funding for projects like a proposed new inpatient behavioral health facility in Curry County. Senate Bill 7, which is a priority for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, is similar to a previous measure that stalled during last year’s session.

Follow Journal Capitol Bureau reporters Dan Boyd and Dan McKay for daily coverage of the session.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Roundhouse roundup: 6 major stories from New Mexico’s legislative session for the week ending Feb. 3

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.
David Batista named branch manager with Yellowstone Landscape
ABQnews Seeker
BRIEFCASE: NMSU grad has been with ... BRIEFCASE: NMSU grad has been with the landscape company for 17 years.
Mexico: Migrants lit mattresses in protest; fire killed 39
ABQnews Seeker
MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Migrants fearing ... MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Migrants fearing deportation set mattresses ablaze at an immigration detention center in northern Mexico, starting a fire that left 39 ...
New Mexico abortion care: What's happening now and what ...
ABQnews Seeker
When Roe v. Wade was overturned ... When Roe v. Wade was overturned last summer, New Mexico seemed poised to become a destination for those seeking abortion. Here's what's happened since ...
WaFd's Lonnie Corral promoted to senior VP
ABQnews Seeker
BRIEFCASE: Corral will continue to lead ... BRIEFCASE: Corral will continue to lead the nine branches he oversees in southern New Mexico.
La Luz Elementary School students were originally expected to ...
ABQnews Seeker
Originally, the district's plans were to ... Originally, the district's plans were to move students out in 2025. Now, APS wants to do it this fall.
Authorities say a man brought a gun into Flix ...
ABQnews Seeker
If not for the theater's beer ... If not for the theater's beer taps or the man's suspected use of cocaine, the gun-wielding patron who sent Flix Brewhouse employees into a ...
Lobo hoops notebook: Seck to transfer, House returns, Udeze ...
ABQnews Seeker
News and notes around Lobo basketball, ... News and notes around Lobo basketball, including another transferring scholarship player and updates on Morris Udeze and Jaelen House.
Judge: District attorney can't be co-counsel in Baldwin case
ABQnews Seeker
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) -- A ... SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) -- A New Mexico judge said Santa Fe's district attorney shouldn't serve as co-counsel in the manslaughter case against actor ...
What do PNM-Avangrid merger opponents really want?
ABQnews Seeker
Here's what merger supporters and opponents ... Here's what merger supporters and opponents have to say about the public-power movement’s influence on the Avangrid-PNM deal.