The 2023 Legislative Session brought our state extraordinary wins that will not only improve the lives of New Mexicans, but will literally save lives.
With over 1,000 bills filed, and only 60 days to get through them, we could not have imagined the sheer amount of successes our communities would walk away with this year. While the usual bad and time-sucking bills were still introduced (see: Repealing the NM Civil Rights Act and Monday after Super Bowl a State Holiday), of our 20 or so initial progressive priority bills, more than half of those are on their way to the Governor’s desk for signature or have already been signed. Whether our Legislature protected access to reproductive and gender affirming care, protected and expanded New Mexicans secure access to the ballot, or creation of the Land of Enchantment Fund, the House and Senate Democrats delivered this year.
And that’s because of you.
You made your voice heard in the 2020 and 2022 elections and delivered the Democratic majority in both chambers. You continued to show up prior to and during the 2023 legislative session, advocating for bills that mattered to you and your community and because of your commitment, our communities will benefit. Today, and for years to come, we celebrate the amazing bills passed during the 2023 legislative session. Here’s a recap of some of the big legislation that we’re celebrating–but please know, this recap does not do justice to the good bills that saw success this year.
? Reproductive & LGBTQ+ Justice
This was an important year for access to abortion care and gender-affirming care. Around the country, local and state governments are banning and criminalizing abortion care. We’re seeing coordinated, right-wing attacks on LGBTQ+ communities as well as gender-affirming health care.
Despite this terrifying political moment, New Mexico took the opportunity to solidify access to reproductive healthcare and gender-affirming care. Thanks to the work of partner organizations like Bold Futures, ACLU, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, Tewa Women United, Forward Together Action, Equality New Mexico and others, HB7, the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Freedom Act and SB13, the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Protection Act were passed. Now, per HB7, New Mexicans and folx coming to our state will be able to safely access full-spectrum reproductive care, like abortion care and gender-affirming care without the fears of local abortion ban ordinances and resolutions like those in Lea and Otero counties. Additionally, with the protections of SB13, not only will your personal medical information be safeguarded, but New Mexico is sending a clear message that we will not participate in other state’s attempts to stigmatize and criminalize providers, patients, or those who support them.
The LGBTQ+ community achieved other significant victories, including the passage of HB31, the Name Change Modernization Act, which allows individuals to change their name without having to place a legal notice into the local newspaper, and HB207, the Human Rights Modernization Act, which updates and expands definitions of sex, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. This not only better protects queer and trans New Mexicans from discrimination, but HB207 gives our state the best protections across the country!
A big thank you and congratulations to Equality New Mexico for their hard work and dedication in achieving these significant victories for the LGBTQ+ community, especially for trans and nonbinary folx.
?️ Democracy Wins
We also saw the passage of HB4 New Mexico Voting Rights Act that will increase voting access while protecting our democracy. This bill will create a Secure Automatic Voter Registration system to register more voters in the most secure way possible. It will also restore voting rights for formerly incarcerated New Mexicans upon their release, create a permanent absentee voter list, and makes Election Day a school holiday. This historic legislation also includes the Native American Voting Rights Act, making NM the first state in the nation to codify protections for indigenous voters. In a time when many state legislatures are seeking to roll back voting rights, New Mexico is leading in this fight. While access to our constitutional right to vote should never be something we have to actively fight for, it WAS a fight and this landmark legislation could not have happened without a large coalition, representing tens of thousands of New Mexicans, putting their all into passing this bill. Here’s that list of incredible partners and more about the bill. votingrightsactnm.org.
Our legislature also passed SB180, an important election administration bill brought forward by the New Mexico Secretary of State and county clerks. This bill will give them the tools and processes they need to continue conducting secure, efficient, and inclusive elections. Both of these bills also include important changes to protect voter information and will make it harder for election deniers to conduct more of their fake election “audits” and intimidate voters.
For climate and environmental bills, this year’s legislature was probably best described as mixed.
?Environmental Justice Wins
While 2023 saw NO comprehensive climate bill that has any direct impact on oil and gas emissions–largely considered the single most important issue in bringing NM into compliance with global standards regarding climate change–we should not fret.
There was incredible work done on so much across the environmental justice sector. We have plenty of bills to celebrate that did make it through the legislature.
SB9 passed and was one of Governor Lujan Grisham’s priority bills. It establishes permanent funding for a litany of existing programs and offices in the state that before now relied on annual funding from the General Fund, which as we know is always situational. Technically there are two funds, one to fund those programs now, and one that sets up a Permanent Fund known as the Land of Enchantment Permanent Fund, that will exist into perpetuity to keep those programs going.
Additionally we saw a series of tax-related bills that help NM continue to move forward in our transition away from a fossil fuel based economy. These include a tax credit for Electric Vehicle buyers that coupled with federal tax credits make the total cost of buying an EV well below the usual cost of an average new vehicle. It also includes tax credits for people installing energy storage systems for their home or business; a similar tax credit but on the commercial side for larger utilities; credits for geothermal energy production, something NM can lead the nation on; and for credits for ground-source heat pumps, a highly efficient way to move New Mexicans off costly natural gas heating in their homes.
In the General Appropriations bill (HB2), nearly $100 million was secured and allocated for economic and energy transition initiatives. These initiatives will invest in communities that have been most impacted by extractive (oil, gas, mining) industries in NM and support a just energy transition for these frontline and indigenous communities.
Another important piece to remember is that the State Land Office (SLO) will now have an official Office of Renewable Energy thanks to new legislation that passed this year (HB95). The SLO has been collecting fees and leasing land to renewable energy projects for years, resulting in an incredible 1400% increase in collected revenue in just the last year. Having a permanent office inside the SLO will ensure that no matter how the political winds in NM are blowing, we’ll have a dedicated team looking to our renewable future.
? #NMLeg ’23 Wrap up
We know this blog was long. While these are the bills we chose to uplift, they don’t encompass the many other critical bills brought by communities and Legislative Champions that made it through the 2023 session.
After a disappointing 30 day session in 2022, which really only exists to pass the state budget, communities and advocates showed up from all across New Mexico this year and saw the fruits of their labors.
While the GOP did not spare us any of their hateful and harmful language during debates this year, New Mexico made it through not only intact, but better. Congratulations to the many New Mexicans who advocated for better policies and won!