Legislative Reports

Dispatches from the Roundhouse 2024

February 19, 2024
By Jim Jackson and Ellen Pinnes

Slow motion session ends quietly. There were long floor debates on some bills, but the end of this year’s legislative session was mostly marked by quick passage of pending bills with little or no debate, testimonials to retiring legislators, and surprisingly abbreviated hours for the final twenty-four hours of a session. The House went home around 8:30 and the Senate at 9:30 on the last evening, startling long-time Legislature watchers who are used to floor sessions lasting into the early morning hours on that last night as the chambers race to act on bills still awaiting a vote. And the last morning was a slow one too, with the House technically convening at 8:30 but holding its roll call open until nearly 10:45 before the proceedings actually started. On the Senate side, the chamber convened at 9:15, passed the five House bills remaining on its calendar, and spent much of the morning honoring senators who have chosen not to run for reelection. Both chambers adjourned at noon last Thursday as required by the constitution, ending one of the quieter sessions in memory.

A total of 72 bills passed both chambers and will go to the governor for her to sign or veto. That’s more than the 64 that passed in the last thirty-day session in 2022 (during the covid pandemic) but well below the 88 in 2020 and 111 in 2018. Only 12.2% of bills introduced this year made it through the legislative process, lower than the 14.3% in 2022, 13% in 2020, and 18.8% in 2018. (Those numbers don’t include memorials and resolutions.) The Legislature can’t be held solely responsible for the low numbers, though, since the governor has far more control over the agenda in short sessions; aside from bills making appropriations or raising revenue, she can prevent a bill that’s been introduced from moving forward, so the share of bills that pass is always lower in thirty-day sessions compared to sixty-day sessions when any bill introduced has a chance to move through the process.

But not without drama. The end of the 2024 session may have been quieter than usual, but there were still some tense moments. The paid family and medical leave act, SB 3, was debated on the House floor for three hours on Wednesday, with lengthy discussion about a proposed amendment that would have excluded Medicaid personal care and Developmental Disabilities Waiver providers and some others from the program for the first several years. The amendment failed on a vote of 34-36 and the bill was ultimately defeated by the same narrow margin. The day before, a bill to ban carrying guns in polling places passed by a similarly nail-biting vote of 35-34 after lengthy debate.

Budget and tax package adopted. The House accepted the Senate’s changes to HB 2, agreeing to a total budget of $10.22 billion for the coming fiscal year, an increase of 6.8% over the current year. (See below for more detail on the budget bill and appropriations for agencies serving people with disabilities.) A package of tax changes, HB 252, which does not include any increase to the alcohol tax following dueling proposed approaches to such a change, is designed so that the governor won’t have the ability to use line-item vetoes on selected provisions. She made extensive cuts to last year’s tax bill using line-item vetoes and the Legislature was keen to avoid a repeat of that outcome.

Empowering the legislature? For the second year in a row, proposed constitutional changes that would lengthen legislative sessions, expand the items that can be considered in a short 30-day session, and create a commission to decide whether and how much to pay New Mexico legislators – the only ones in the country who aren’t paid even a nominal salary – failed to pass. However, one major move to professionalize the legislature did succeed: $6 million is included in HB 2 to provide legislators with some minimal year-round staff support in their districts. The Legislative Council will establish guidelines on the role of that staff, though it is already certain that they will be prohibited from engaging in campaign activities.

Special session? Governor Lujan Grisham, disappointed at what she saw as inadequate progress on public safety measures she supported, said almost immediately after the Legislature adjourned that she might call a special session on that issue. It’s not clear whether such a session will materialize, or when it would take place.

Retirements. A higher than usual number of legislators have already announced that they won’t be returning next year – at least not to their current chamber. Three Democratic senators and five Republicans have decided not to return next year. In the House, several representatives won’t be seeking re-election to the House, though some of them will run for Senate seats instead. And that’s just the legislators who have already announced their plans. It’s likely that there will be more announcements of decisions not to run before the March 12 deadline to file declarations of candidacy.


Bills and memorials that passed in the 2024 session

Bills listed in this section passed both the House and Senate and will go to the governor, who can sign them into law or veto them. For the budget bill, she will have the option to line-item veto specific provisions while signing the rest of bill – without those provisions – into law. Memorials, which do not have the force of law, cannot be vetoed by the governor.

State Budget and Tax Provisions
HB 2 General Appropriation Act. Rep. Nathan Small. This is the budget bill that funds most of state government. The final version of the bill provides for a total budget of $10.22 billion in ongoing state funds in the coming fiscal year (FY25), which is an increase of 6.8% from the current year. The bill also includes $1.14 billion in one-time appropriations, $319 million in expenditures from the new Government Results and Opportunity (GRO) fund, and various other one-time expenses and fund transfers. Here’s a summary of how the bill affects agencies that serve persons with disabilities:

Human Services Department/Health Care Authority:
Developmental Disabilities Supports Division – HB 2 maintains a separate line item for state funds earmarked for the DD waiver program and provides an increase in those funds for the coming year of about $67 million. This includes an earmark of $20.5 million for provider rate increases and is also projected to cover additional service slots for those newly eligible for the program (thus maintaining a no-waiting-list policy), an increase in the budget cap for participants in the Mi Via waiver program, and replacement of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that were used for the past two years to eliminate the waiting list. There is also a special (one-time) appropriation providing $150,000 to the Division of Health Improvement (DHI) to do additional investigations of alleged abuse/neglect in the DD waiver program.

  • Behavioral Health Services Division (non-Medicaid) – BHSD’s approved budget includes an increase of only $1.1 million in state funds, and earmarks $2.3 million of the division’s total budget for housing assistance to those affected by the opioid crisis, and $1 million for behavioral health telehealth. However, the new GRO fund will provide $5 million per year for the next three years to support certified community behavioral health clinics (CCBHCs) and to continue screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT). There is also a one-time appropriation in the bill of $5.9 million for the 988 crisis line.
  • Brain Injury Services Fund – This fund, administered by HSD, provides case management and some limited services for those diagnosed with a brain injury. The fund has been supported by fees added to fines for traffic violations, but that funding source (along with other traffic add-on fees) will end on June 30. HSD did not request any new money to replace the lost funds. However, there is a surprisingly large amount of money that has accumulated in the fund that will allow it to continue operations in the coming year, so no new money for the BISF was appropriated in HB 2.
  • SNAP – There is $14 million in the bill to increase the state-paid supplemental SNAP benefit provided to seniors and persons with disabilities from $25 to $100 a month.

Public Education Department: HB 2 provides an increase of about $205 million to the State Equalization Guarantee (SEG), which supports public schools statewide and is distributed through the state’s funding formula. One component of the SEG provides funding to school districts based on special education enrollment. HB 2 provides a one-time appropriation of $6 million for special education initiatives, including the development of a model individualized education plan (IEP) to be used statewide. It also provides funding of $5 million per year for each of the next three years from the new GRO fund for hard-to-fill special education positions. A separate GRO expenditure of $160,000, to be spent over the next two years, will support programs promoting one-to-one friendships between students with and without disabilities, such as the Best Buddies program.

Children Youth and Families Department: HB 2 includes an increase in state funding for the agency of nearly $10 million and a total increase of about $10.8 million, or 2.8%.

Developmental Disabilities Council: The DDC will receive a $271,000 increase in the budget for the Office of Guardianship but no increase for other programs, such as the Special Education Ombud. However, there is a one-time appropriation in HB 2 of $200,000 to serve some of those who are on the waiting list for guardianship services, another $60,000 to do a rate study of guardianship services, and $95,000 to address a budget shortfall this year in that office. Through a legislator’s designation of funding, the DDC also receives $160,000 from the new GRO fund to be spent over the next two years to promote alternatives to guardianship.

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation: HB 2 includes increases in state funds of $239,000 for vocational rehabilitation services and $20,500 for Independent Living programs.

Commission for the Blind: The Commission receives an increase of about $210,000 in state funds.

Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing: HB 2 adds $402,000 in state funds for this agency, increasing the state’s portion of the commission’s funding while leaving the total at the same level as the current year ($3.24 million). And a legislator earmarked $200,000 in GRO funds to be spent over the next two years for additional deaf and deaf-blind services.

Governor’s Commission on Disability: GCD will receive an increase in state funding of only $15,000, well below the agency’s request for $325,000 to expand provision of home accessibility modifications and assistive technology services.

HB 196 Government accountability trust and fund. Rep. Nathan Small. Creates what is now called the Government Results and Opportunity (GRO) Expendable Trust and GRO Program Fund. These would be funded initially at $512 million and $326 million, respectively, pursuant to HB 2. In future years, when state revenues exceed certain levels, the excess amount will be deposited into the Trust Fund. Some of the money in the Trust Fund will be transferred each year to the Program Fund for expenditure on pilot projects. The intent is that those projects that prove to be worthwhile will eventually receive recurring funding through the regular budget process.
In this year’s HB 2, money in the Program Fund will support 16 pilot programs for the next three years (at a total cost of $215 million). It also provides about $31 million for other special projects, plus a few hundred projects designated by individual legislators, that will be funded for the next two years at a total cost of about $68 million, plus nearly $5 million to administer those projects. Total appropriations for the GRO fund, to be spent over the next two or three years, add up to $319 million.

HB 252 Tax package. Rep. Derrick Lente. This is the omnibus tax package passed by the legislature. Among the many provisions of the bill are a few based on provisions of bills noted in this report: an exemption from gross receipts taxes for home accessibility modifications for persons with disabilities paid for through the Medicaid program (HB 93); expansion of the categories of providers eligible for the tax credit for rural health care providers (HB 163); and an increase in the annual tax credit for those who adopt a special needs child (SB 117). This year’s bill does not include any tax rebates, and – according to legislative leadership – should therefore not be subject to line-item veto by the governor.

Other Substantive Legislation

HB 33 Drug price transparency. Rep. Pamelya Herndon. This bill imposes reporting requirements on manufacturers of drugs that cost more than $400 for a 30-day supply. If the price of the drug rises more than 10% for a brand name drug or 30% for a generic in a year, manufacturers will have to report information about their costs and profits related to the drug to the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance. HB 2 includes $100,000 to implement this program.

HB 98 Amendments to ABLE. Rep. Liz Thomson. Amends the state’s Accounts for Persons with Disabilities Act (ABLE) Act to include individuals whose disability begins by age 46 (rather than the current limit of age 26). This would align state law with recent amendments to the federal ABLE provisions. The bill would also prohibit state programs such as Medicaid from seeking payment, after a person’s death, from the person’s ABLE account for benefits provided, unless recovery of such expenses is required by federal law.

HB 129 Waiting period for firearm purchases. Rep. Andrea Romero. This bill creates a minimum seven-day waiting period between the time a federal background check is initiated as part of the process of purchasing a firearm and the physical transfer of the firearm from the seller to the buyer. The waiting period could extend longer if it takes longer to complete the federal background check, but could not exceed 20 days. Sales between immediate family members, to a person with a concealed-carry permit, and a few other sales will be exempt. Proponents of the bill indicate that this waiting period is likely to deter some persons contemplating suicide from acting rashly or in the midst of a mental health crisis, and thus save lives.

HB 298 Service member/veteran suicide prevention. Rep. Eliseo Alcon. Establishes a suicide prevention program within the state Veterans Service Department, tasked with raising awareness and working to prevent suicide deaths among veterans and active service members. There is $200,000 in GRO funding in HB 2 for the department to contract for such services, to be spent over the next two years.

HM 10 Task force on “homeless” foster children. Rep. Tara Jaramillo. Calls for a task force to develop recommendations on how to solve the “acute crisis” of foster children sleeping in state office buildings due to lack of appropriate placements. The state is required to address this issue as part of the Kevin S. settlement agreement.

HM 12 BH workforce study. Rep. Charlotte Little. This memorial acknowledges the administrative burdens on behavioral health agencies and providers and requests the appointment of a task force to recommend ways to alleviate these burdens.

SB 127 Psychology Act changes. Sen. Bill Soules. This bill would allow psychologists who have prescriptive authority to administer intramuscular or subcutaneous injections of medications for treatment of mental illness or substance abuse, and assure that prescribing psychologists are represented on the board of psychologist examiners.

SB 135 Step therapy guidelines. Sen. Liz Stefanics. Strengthens protections against the use of step therapy for prescription drugs and expands the categories of patients for whom prior authorization and step therapy are barred, to include patients with autoimmune or behavioral health conditions or cancer as well as substance use disorders.

SB 142 Notification requirements for BH facilities. Sen. George Muñoz. Requires a residential behavioral health facility to try to get contact information for a patient’s family, and provide opportunities for the patient to inform the family that the person has been admitted to the facility. The bill provides for penalties of $750 for a first violation and $1,000 for subsequent violations.

SB 230 Disclosure of information. Sen. Greg Nibert. Amends the Children’s Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code to align with current provisions of the adult code, to allow for disclosure of otherwise confidential records, for research purposes only, to government agencies and certain health care associations and licensed health care facilities. The provisions would apply to all records in existence on or after July 1, 2024. SM 5 CYFD restructuring task force. Sen. Linda Lopez. Calls on the LFC to create a task force to consider restructuring CYFD in order to achieve compliance with the provisions of the Kevin S. settlement and implement best practices in child welfare.

Bills and memorials that failed to pass

Behavioral Health

  • HB 27 Amendments to “red flag” law. Rep. Joy Garratt. The latest version of this bill added a wide array of health care professionals as well as law enforcement officers to the list of those who can request that a petition be filed by a law enforcement agency for an order to remove firearms from someone who poses significant danger of causing imminent personal injury to themselves or others due to the possession of firearms.
  • HB 149 Medication assisted treatment (MAT) for minors. Rep. Cristina Parajón. Prohibited restrictions on MAT for minors in state-operated or state–funded facilities, and prohibited reimbursement to non-complying facilities.
  • HB 185 Step therapy guidelines. Rep. Liz Thomson. Same as SB 135, which passed.
  • HB 233 Competency and diversion to treatment. Rep. Tara Lujan. This bill was intended to provide for diversion of some criminal defendants out of the criminal justice system and into mental health or substance abuse treatment, but many concerns were raised about the bill and whether it would accomplish its intended goal.
  • SB 16 Competency and diversion to treatment. Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino. Same as HB 233, above.
  • SB 23 BH laws study. Sen. Bill Tallman. Appropriated $100,000 for a study of existing state laws relating to behavioral health, and recommendations for consolidation and amendments, specifically including consideration of an “intercept” model for diversion from the criminal justice system.
  • SB 41 Post-secondary mental health initiatives. Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill. Appropriated $13.4 million to New Mexico colleges and universities to provide social workers, counselors and other mental health supports at these institutions of higher learning.
  • SB 60 Suicide prevention training by SFCC. Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill. Appropriated $375,000 for Santa Fe Community College to provide peer-to-peer suicide intervention training throughout New Mexico. There is $500,000 per year in HB 2, through the new GRO fund, for this effort for the next three years.
  • SB 69 14-day waiting period for firearm purchases. Sen. Joseph Cervantes. Similar to HB 129, which passed. SB 149 BH Facilities Fund. Sen. Bill Tallman. Created a fund to assist local governments in planning, purchasing, renovating or building regional facilities to treat mental illness, substance abuse disorder, or certain other conditions. Required the Health Care Authority to develop a statewide plan for delivery of behavioral health services and criteria for evaluating requests for grants from the fund.
  • SM 11 BH expansion strategies. Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino. Asked the Higher Education Department to identify the cost and feasibility of providing tuition-free graduate-level programs for behavioral health professionals and recommendations for expanding training programs at branch and community colleges.

Brain Injury

  • SB 156 Brain injury registry and surveillance. Sen. Antoinette Sedillo-Lopez. Similar to SB 203, below.
  • SB 203 Sen. Bill Tallman. As amended, this bill provided $2.5 million to expand the Brain Injury Services Fund; $1 million to implement a brain injury registry; $600,000 for surveillance to determine the incidence and prevalence of brain injury; and $300,000 for education and support of health care professionals through a program such as the ECHO program at UNM. It appears that there is sufficient money in the BISF to continue its operation for at least the coming fiscal year, but there is no funding in HB 2 for the other programs proposed in this bill.
  • SB 254 Brain injury services. Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez. Similar to SB 156 and SB 203.

Community Living and Services

  • HB 6 Paid Family and Medical Leave. Rep. Christine Chandler. Created a paid family/medical leave benefit for workers in New Mexico. Began as identical to SB 3 – see below.
  • HB 11 Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act. Rep. Marian Matthews. This bill was similar to HB 6, but provided no more than 6 weeks of leave, and would have been funded only by employee contributions; employers would not have been required to contribute.
  • HB 93 GRT exemption for home modifications. Rep Kathleen Cates. Exempted businesses that provide home modifications for disability accessibility, such as ramps, grab bars or bathroom renovations, from gross receipts tax when they are paid for such work. This provision is included in HB 252, the omnibus tax package.
  • HB 94 PCS worker data and rates. Rep. Kathleen Cates. Required HCA to contract for a cost study of Personal Care Services (part of the Community Benefit services in Medicaid) and directed the department to ask for enough money next year to cover payment rates to MCOs that would be sufficient for the MCOs to pay PCS providers a rate high enough to cover direct care workers’ pay of at least 150% of the state minimum wage (which would come to $18/hour at the current state wage level).
  • HB 26 Increase home modifications allowance. Rep. Kathleen Cates. Raised the limit on coverage for environmental modifications in the Medicaid program to $15,000 every five years and appropriated $5,229,900 to HCA for that purpose. HB 203 Medicaid mileage reimbursement. Rep. Harlan Vincent. Required Medicaid to pay mileage reimbursements to agencies that provide home modifications for accessibility or for delivery and installation of durable medical equipment (DME) for Medicaid recipients.
  • SB 3 Paid Family and Medical Leave. Sen. Mimi Stewart. Created a paid family/medical leave benefit for workers in New Mexico. Employees could receive payments in lieu of wages for up to 12 weeks of leave in a year in some circumstances. Leave would have been available in connection with the employee’s illness or for the purpose of caring for an ill family member; bonding with a newborn child, adopted child or new foster child; or protecting the employee or family member from domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault or abuse. The leave program would have been financed by assessments from employees and employers, though employers with fewer than five employees would have been exempted from contributions, and employers that already provided a comparable benefit could also be exempted.
  • SM 17 Direct care workers. Sen. Liz Stefanics. This memorial asked the Health Care Authority to commission an annual report on the direct care workforce and requesting adjustments to payment rates for personal care services. Intended to implement the provisions of HB 94, which did not pass.

Education/Special Education

  • HB 70 School-based MH counselors. Rep. Mark Duncan. Appropriated $38 million to provide mental health counselors in public middle and high schools throughout the state.
  • HB 199 Raise educational assistant and other salaries. Rep. Susan Herrera. Raised the minimum salary of full-time educational assistants from $25,000 to $30,000 and set a minimum salary of $30,000 for all other full-time public education employees and $15 per hour for part-time employees. Funding for some of these provisions is included in HB 2.
  • HM 22 Rep. Mark Duncan. Called on PED to convene a work group to identify barriers to accessing mental health care for high school students and gaps in available services, and make recommendations on how to provide mental health care services at all public high schools in NM.

Health Care

  • HB 67 County and tribal health councils. Rep. Anthony Allison. Appropriated $6 million to support county and tribal health councils. HB 2 includes $3 million for health councils.
  • HB 163 Expand rural healthcare provider tax credit. Rep. Miguel Garcia. Made several additional categories of professionals eligible for the credit, including occupational and physical therapists, registered nurses, social workers and behavioral health counselors. This provision is included in HB 252, the omnibus tax package.
  • SB 89 Expanding health care capacity. Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino. Appropriated $20 million to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates, $10 million for the healthcare professionals loan repayment fund, $2 million for stipends for social work interns at CYFD, $10 million for clinical supervision of students in social work and counseling programs and for stipends for student internships, and $18 million to UNM for additional physician resident slots, preceptors training healthcare students, and faculty positions in the college of population health. See also SM 11, in Behavioral Health section above.
  • SB 139 Medicaid Trust Fund. Sen. George Muñoz. Set aside $1 billion in state funds into a trust fund as a long-term investment, with some of the proceeds from the fund being used in future years to help support the state’s share of costs of the Medicaid program.
  • SB 223 Medicaid Trust Fund. Sen. William Sharer. This bill was similar to SB 139, but would have provided money for the fund by diverting the funding stream that is currently going into the Early Childhood Trust Fund. The value of that fund is currently estimated to be around $5.5 billion and it is expected to rise to about $9 billion in the next few years.


  • HB 25 Housing discrimination based on income source. Rep. Kathleen Cates. Prohibited landlords from refusing to rent or sell housing based on a person’s source of income, including Social Security benefits or housing vouchers from governmental agencies.
  • SB 7 NM Housing Trust Fund appropriation. Sen. Nancy Rodriguez. Appropriated $500 million for the work of the Housing Trust Fund, which funds affordable housing programs for low- and moderate-income New Mexicans. In HB 2 there is a transfer of $50 million from the state general fund to the Housing Trust Fund.
  • SB 71 Office of Housing. Sen. Michael Padilla. Created a state Office of Housing to coordinate with other housing programs and to develop a state housing plan.
  • SB 166 Homelessness division in HCA. Created a Homelessness Reduction Division in HCA, responsible for homelessness prevention efforts, including development of a strategic homelessness reduction plan and data collection system; an interagency homelessness reduction task force; and a homelessness reduction advisory council.


SB 117 Special needs adoption tax credit. Sen. David Gallegos. Raised the annual tax credit for those who adopt a special needs child from $1,000 to $1,500. This provision is included in HB 252, the omnibus tax package.

Bills that did not get a message from the governor and therefore did not advance

HB 89 Closed Captioning Act. Rep. Cynthia Borrego. Required TVs in places of public accommodation to display captions, to provide equal access to persons with hearing impairment.

HB 223 Voter ID requirements. Rep. John Block. Required in-person voters to present a driver’s license or identification card issued by the Motor Vehicle Division.

HB 228 Funding for ASL or other language programs. Rep. Raymundo Lara. Allowed school districts to generate funding to provide language instruction programs for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

HB 229 Support services in funding formula. Rep. Raymundo Lara. Allowed schools to generate funding for medical, behavioral, and physical education support services for students with disabilities in the same way they can do now for diagnosticians, therapists and other “ancillary” personnel.

HB 250 Cameras for monitoring of group homes. Rep. John Block. Allowed for the installation of a monitoring camera in the home in certain circumstances.

HB 297 Seizure Safe Schools Act. Rep. Martin Zamora. Called for training of school employees and bus drivers on management of students with seizure disorders.

SB 32 Boarding home stipends. Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino. Provided for monthly payments to licensed boarding homes for individuals who went there after discharge from public mental health facilities, as an incentive to those boarding homes to become licensed by the state.

SB 35 MAT for minors. Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino. Same as HB 149, above.

SB 44 Licensure fee waivers. Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino. Waived the initial licensure application fee and two subsequent annual fees for various behavioral health and other health care professionals.

SB 47 Healthcare personnel recruitment. Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill. Appropriated $30 million to create a fund to recruit and retain health care personnel in health care underserved areas.

SB 62 Medicaid mileage reimbursement. Sen. Pete Campos. Same as HB 203, above.

SB 85 Seizure Safe Schools Act. Sen. Harold Pope. Same as HB 297, above.

SB 98 Interstate BH Counselor Compact. Sen Antonio Maestas. Added New Mexico to the interstate agreement that allows a behavioral health counselor who is licensed in a state that is a member of the compact to temporarily practice in another state.

SB 132 Support services in funding formula. Sen. Antonio Maestas. Same as HB 229, above. SB 143 Funding for ASL or other language programs. Sen. Antonio Maestas. Same as HB 228, above.


GRO Government Results and Opportunity (trust fund and program fund)
HB House Bill
SB Senate Bill

State Agencies:
CYFD Children, Youth and Families Department
HCA Health Care Authority
HSD Human Services Department
PED Public Education Department

ARPA American Rescue Plan Act
BISF Brain Injury Services Fund
SNAP Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program