2024 NM Legislative Session Progressive Wrap Up

2024 NM Legislative Session Progressive Wrap Up

New Mexico just wrapped up another 30-day state legislative session and as usual, there was some good, some meh, and some ugly (particularly from the mouths of the GOP).

As the last unpaid legislature in the nation, our legislative sessions in which we get to pass bills critical to our health, safety, and ability to thrive are limited mostly to odd years sessions where we have a whopping 60 days to get bills through both chambers and to the governor’s desk. In even years, like this one, the 30 day session consists primarily of passing the state budget. The only bills that get a chance to be heard are bills that the Governor puts “on the call,” meaning whatever the current Gov determines to be critically important. 

Despite the fact that we have a lot more work to do next year, we were pleased with some of the topics that were deemed necessary to discuss this year and equally as pleased with some of the outcomes. Read on for highlights in key issue areas that the ProgressNow team tracked during the 2024 legislative session.

There’s been some highs and lows this legislative session for individuals and their families. 

We saw the passing of HB151, Benjamin Higher Education Sexual Violence Prevention and Intervention Act which requires trauma-informed policies and responses by post-secondary educational institutions that receive state funds. 

This is considered a huge win for students attending universities and colleges around the state. Especially considering the fact that undergraduate students, 26.4% of females and 6.8% of males experience rape or sexual assault and of graduate students and professional students, 9.7% of females and 2.5% of males experience rape or sexual assault. Those are the ones who actually report the assault, because so many go unreported.

Before heading back to the House for concurrence, we suffered through a grueling commentary from Senator Schmedes who took us on a bewildering, historical tour from the Roman Empire to feminism’s struggles, despite his voting record on women’s issues. The real mic drop moment, though, was Senator Antionette Sedillo Lopez, who totally owned it by sharing her own story and standing up for survivors everywhere. Now, we’re just crossing our fingers the Gov signs it into law.

Another win from this 30-day session was the passing of the SB15, Health Care Consolidation Oversight Act. You may remember the most recent merger of the Alamogordo-based hospital with Catholic-based Christus Health that took place during the summer of last year. This isn’t the first time Christus Health has taken over a hospital, the other one is in Santa Fe. Yeah, the one that gave us serious Crisis Pregnancy Center deja vu, and not in a good way. You know, it’s the same crowd  who believes in misleading and shaming people seeking abortion care—this is only one example of course.

The bill, which requires review of proposed health care mergers, acquisitions and other material changes in control of health care entities, including health care insurance entities is a big step towards making sure our reproductive healthcare, and healthcare for LGBTQ individuals isn’t affected in the future.

And then there was the nail-biter Paid Family Medical Leave, which would have created a program, administered by the state of New Mexico, to provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave for employees to care for a new child, a family member with a serious health concern, or their own medical condition. This bill was about making sure New Mexicans don’t have to make the difficult choice of choosing between their health, caring for their loved ones, and their financial stability.

A bitter pill to swallow, indeed, given that we all have a story that relates to why PFML was so desperately needed. Whether it’s caring for a newborn, a sick family member, or recovering from an illness, these personal experiences make the case for paid leave relatable and urgent. But I guess we’ll try again next year.

Another year, another sense of scratching the surface of what needs to be done. Don’t get us wrong, some great stuff happened for consumers and individuals who care about making conscientious climate decisions, AND two systematic pieces of policy with mostly good implications did make it through the Legislature this year.

Before we get to all the “what could/should have been” stuff, let’s take a look at what we can celebrate as wins from this year’s legislative session.

A slate of tax breaks that affect individuals were included in this session’s tax package. The tax package includes not one, but seven environmental and climate related tax incentives. To start, we have the electric vehicle (EV) tax credit, for new and used vehicles, that also includes an EV charging unit tax credit. Also included is the electric generation tax sunset, which removes the sunset date, making permanent a provision that allows taxpayers employed in specific electricity generation activities to apportion their business income using the single sales factor. Furthermore, we have the energy storage system, geothermal heat pump & electricity generation, advanced energy equipment, and new rooftop solar development tax incentives. Overall, the bills collectively emphasize a commitment to fostering environmentally friendly practices and advancing clean energy solutions.

Additionally, on a larger scale, two bigger pieces of legislation passed that have larger implications for the whole state that we’re very glad to see happen. A Match Fund that will specifically help fund renewable infrastructure projects around the state was established with the express directive to help local governments find and utilize matching funds from state and federal governments and establishes dedicated staff at the state level to ensure those opportunities aren’t lost. That’s incredible and absolutely something to be stoked about.

And after years of trying, a Clean Fuels Standard was passed and there are some big things to be excited about in there. Basically there are emerging and existing markets for cleaner-than-traditional fuels in other states already, and national companies are bypassing New Mexico to access those fuels, either as part of their transcontinental shipping routes OR in securing it for manufacturing. Now NM has the incentives and administrative framework to build out and support companies who want to manufacture, distribute, and otherwise utilize those clean(er) fuels in the state. The policy is technology neutral which is frankly less than ideal as it paves the way for some things like hydrogen or ethanol-mixed gasoline to be further utilized when we would prefer to see things focused on reliable renewable energy — but we already know the market is heavily favoring renewable energy, so we’ll get there eventually.

One other note about this bill is the carbon credit portion, which many climate activists spoke out against and with good reason; carbon credits do not offer any real action on climate change as it allows polluters to just buy their way out of their emissions rather than actually decreasing or eliminating them. However, in this legislation we see the specific framework of the market being established as a net positive and something that will continue to incentivize large utilities to max out their renewable energy potential as a secondary market to sell their overages as credits, and pushing the whole sector toward the renewable catalog statewide.

A shout out to geothermal energy policy for moving through the legislature AGAIN after being unceremoniously slashed by the Governor last year after passing the 2023 Legislature. We all hope they get signed this year so NM can get down to the business on its geothermal potential!

An attempt to reform New Mexico’s Oil and Gas Act was floated, passed a few committees, and then passed into obscurity on the Speaker’s table for over half of the session. Last year it didn’t clear its first Senate committee, so maybe this was a small step forward, but considering the Act hasn’t been updated SINCE THE 1930’s, it really feels like updating it is something we need to prepare our children to do. 

Similarly, an attempt at updating NM’s Oil and Gas Royalty Leasing rates similarly stalled after clearing the whole House, but then stalled in the Senate Finance Committee…where good progressive policy often goes to die. Those rates have not been updated since the 1970’s, and NM leaves literally BILLIONS on the table every year that we don’t bring our rates up to our neighboring states, basically underwriting the Oil and Gas Industry in yet another way.

There were a handful of other good pieces of policy that should have moved forward in a functioning legislature, but NM’s backwards short and budget focused year, we hadn’t gotten our hopes up for those as much as those two big oil and gas reforms. 

Finally, it is worth noting that we successfully fended off most if not all of the worst attempts for the Oil and Gas Lobbyists to win any further concessions in New Mexico. Most notably was the Governor’s own ill-advised “Strategic Water Supply” plan which sought to further commodify New Mexico’s water and become a middleman for oil and gas companies to sell their waste product, have it “cleaned” and then buy it back at a subsidized price. There was absolutely nothing redeemable about that plan and frankly we’re once again so disappointed in the governor who otherwise has done so much for the state on climate issues.

Other Key Issue Areas this Legislative Session


New Mexico joins a handful of states who have implemented waiting periods when purchasing firearms. While there was a host of other gun related bills this year, this one step forward was broad enough that most Democrats in each chamber supported the measure, even if it was watered down slightly (the waiting period was lessened from 14 days to 7 days) over its journey to passage. This is objectively a measure that will save lives while having zero impact on legal and well-intentioned gun buyers.

Additionally, a measure to protect voters and poll workers did pass that prohibits the OPEN carry of firearms at polling locations. While legal concealed carry permit holders will still be allowed to carry their weapons, no longer will politically motivated yahoos be able to carry their AR15s into polling locations and threaten everyone around them.


Just over a week before the legislative session’s end, the Senate tabled a bill that would have ended immigration detention in NM. The bill prohibited NM public bodies from intergovernmental agreements with for-profit immigrant detention companies. The result would have been counties could not imprison migrants being detained by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Sadly, though sponsor Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez spoke of the deplorable conditions in the migrant detention centers located in Otero, Torrance and Cibola counties, the NM GOP and several Democrats were unmoved and voted to table.

Modernization of the NM Legislature

We saw some early movement of three joint resolutions that sought to put constitutional amendment proposals on the ballot in order to modernize the legislature in a number of ways. All three passed the House Judiciary Committee, and that’s where they stopped.

One, HJR5, would have allowed for 60 day sessions annually (amended to 60 days in odd and 45 days in even years). It also opened up the session significantly by removing the current, even-year restriction that legislation be germane to the Governor’s call (list of priorities or messages) or related to spending money or collecting taxes.

A second, HJR7, would have created a “citizen commission on legislative salaries” as New Mexico is the only unpaid, volunteer, “citizen legislature.” Per diem and mileage reimbursements are not enough to attract candidates who want to run for office, but who cannot afford to leave their jobs and work for free if elected.This joint resolution was critical for legislature modernization advocates as requiring more time of state legislators in longer legislative sessions should be compensated fairly.

The third, HJR2, would have eliminated the governor’s ability to pocket veto. A pocket veto is one in which the governor takes no action on legislation that has passed both chambers, and thus the legislation is NOT signed into law–without explanation. In the interest of transparency and accountability, eliminating pocket vetoes would put the onus on the governor to explain veto decisions.

We’re hopeful these three key pieces of NM legislature modernization will return in next year’s 60-day session.


House Bill 195: Housing Fund and Changes is headed to the governor which will allow investments of $125 million for affordable housing infrastructure and homes for lower and middle income families who don’t otherwise qualify for housing assistance programs. The NM Finance Authority would administer a revolving loan fund to use on buying, building, and fixing housing to address the housing crisis in the state where at least 32,000 housing units for working families are needed to address the shortage.

The kicker of this legislative session was the relentless disinformation and blatant disregard and disrespect of New Mexico residents that the GOP repeated over and over again. Whether it was rude insistence that New Mexicans will try to defraud critical protections like Paid Family Medical Leave, putting the right of gun owners (which make up only 30% of the U.S. by the way) over parents who fear sending their kids to school, or taking payoffs from the oil and gas lobbyists, the GOP has made their opinion of New Mexicans clear time and time again.

Even though we are disappointed about some of the critical legislation listed above stalling out, and despite the GOP and conservative Democrats that put profits above people, New Mexico managed to pass a few bills during a short session that will positively affect our communities and protect our air, land, and water.

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