Sine Bye

A rundown of how lawmakers responded to key topics during the legislative session

(Anson Stevens-Bollen)

The last day of the legislative session is like the last day of summer camp. As the clock winds down, lawmakers say goodbye to each other with handshakes and hugs before they all pack their bags and head home until next time. Later, they remind the press about all the badges they earned and which ones they might try for next year. Of course, law changes are much more impactful than chits for archery or pottery, but SFR has a rundown of which laws the state gets to add to its sash.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham had her sights on ambitious law changes such as banning some gun sales, hydrogen energy production and codifying abortion access before the session started. Some of those big swings fell flat, but she and Democratic lawmakers are already celebrating what they see as wins for New Mexico.

Lujan Grisham approved a measure she identified as a priority this session, which bars cities and counties from restricting access to abortion and other reproductive care, as both Clovis and Hobbs have attempted to prohibit the procedures. A second bill, which prevents criminal prosecution of health care providers in New Mexico from other states that have adopted abortion bans, and which will likely see approval from the governor, eked its way through the Legislature with less than 24 hours to spare. Both chambers also approved a measure promoted by high school students that calls for public schools to stock restrooms with free menstrual products.

Another landmark of the session is an update to the state’s election code to remove a restriction on voting for people convicted of felonies; create a new permanent absentee voter list; allow for automatic voter registration; and codify the Native American Voting Rights Act.

A state budget, arguably the most important part of any session, made it to the governor, who signaled she would approve, although she has the power to line-item veto sections.

Lawmakers approved significantly more spending—about $1 billion, to be specific—which came with warnings from both Republicans and some fiscally conservative Democrats that the increased spending is not sustainable. A separate tax package also includes an alcohol tax increase—the first in decades—that amounts to about a penny per drink and is a far cry from the hike some lawmakers had sought.

The governor has until April 7 to sign or veto, at which point any bill that receives no action is considered “pocket vetoed.” Lujan Grisham could, in theory, call for a special session to take another swing at any of her pet projects. Just after the session ended, however, she indicated she did not plan to take that action. Here’s how the top issues SFR identified prior to the session fared:

Ethics reform

House Bill 169, which awaits action by the governor, would allow those who file ethics complaints against a legislator to publicly discuss them. Current law requires the complainant, but not the accused, to stay quiet.

The governor’s signature of HB 169 may also decide the fate of a court petition that lobbyist Marianna Anaya filed last year against the Legislature, arguing current state law violates her First Amendment right. Anaya filed an ethics complaint against Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, in early 2022, alleging the senator harassed her numerous times over a few years. After an outside counsel’s report finding probable cause that Ivey-Soto violated the Legislature’s anti-harassment policy was leaked to SFR, lawmakers made changes to their rules to streamline the interim complaint process.

Both House Republicans and Democrats crossed party lines when the full chamber passed the measure on a surprisingly narrow 39-28 vote. It passed the Senate with a much wider 34-2 margin.


Small, rural water systems saw a win this session when Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 1, which allows those regional systems to combine resources and create a water authority. The new law offers the option, but will not require communities like Cañada de los Alamos to combine resources, says one of the sponsors, Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe.

Senate Bill 9, a bill Wirth co-sponsored, intends to create a new Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund that would benefit a number of conservation efforts. The bill passed both chambers with comfortable margins, but is still awaiting a signature from the governor.

Leading up to this year’s legislative session, hydrogen energy production, which Lujan Grisham backs, seemed like it was going to be a contentious issue, but the issue anticlimactically fizzled out early on in the session.

Senate Bill 53, prohibiting the storage of spent fuel or high-level waste without state consent, has already been signed into law, solidifying opposition to a project proposed by Holtec International to “temporarily” store waste from power plants in Lea County for 40 years with options for renewal. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued its final environmental review in July and is expected to announce a decision soon on whether to grant a license for the project.


Landlords won—again—as legislators blocked even watered-down proposals to expand tenant protections.

House Bill 6, for example, would have given tenants more time to pay overdue rent before a landlord could file for eviction, but did not pass the House. The Senate also blocked bills that would have bolstered tenant protections for residents of mobile home parks and allowed cities to limit rent increases. Even a far less controversial proposal to create a state housing department stalled at the Capitol.

All this comes as the median sales price of a home in Santa Fe was over $600,000 at the end of last year and high rents push lower income residents out of the city altogether.

While lawmakers dedicated several million dollars to building housing around the state, tenants rights advocates argue such measures won’t provide relief soon enough to New Mexicans facing higher rents now.

Perhaps none of this should be surprising, though. SFR counted about a dozen legislators—including some very powerful ones—who are landlords themselves and would stand to lose if the state allowed rent control.

Criminal justice reform

Lawmakers didn’t advance many of Lujan Grisham’s crime bills, but the governor gets to add the feather of reforming how juveniles are sentenced to her cap. Known as the Second Chance Act, Senate Bill 64 gives “youthful offenders” an opportunity to seek parole.

Another criminal justice win for the governor and Democratic legislators is the Bennie Hargrove Gun Safety Act, which Lujan Grisham signed March 14. Albuquerque Police arrested a middle school student for shooting and killing the new law’s 13-year-old namesake in 2021. The law deems negligently allowing a minor access to a firearm a misdemeanor, but if that negligence causes “great bodily harm or death of another person,” the charge bumps up to a fourth-degree felony.

Lujan Grisham’s push to toughen pretrial detention standards by allowing prosecutors to hold defendants using a “rebuttable presumption” of guilt fell flat pretty early on in the session without a strong coalition of support from her own party.


Next month marks one full year of adult-use cannabis sales in New Mexico and two years since the enactment of the Cannabis Regulation Act. One of the selling points in 2021—or sticking point for some—of full legalization was companion expungement legislation. This year, Rep. Andrea Romero, D-Santa Fe, sponsored House Bill 314 to clean up the expungement process. If Lujan Grisham approves, HB 314 will make it easier to check on pending expungements and help the Administrative Office of the Courts weed through anything still pending.

Senate Bill 242, sponsored by Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, is also in the hands of the governor after it made its way through the Legislature with two days to spare. SB 242 would change the lifespan of a medical cannabis card from three years to two. Current law, however, requires patients to check in with a medical professional every year between card renewals. Patients would only need to make those visits when they renew their cards if SB 242 is signed into law.

Although Senate Bill 147 was a general tax bill, it also specified that the state’s gross receipts tax should not be applied to the cannabis excise tax. The Taxation and Revenue Department currently includes the excise tax when billing cannabis business owners, a process often referred to as pyramiding.

Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, in 2021 criticized social equity provisions in the Cannabis Regulation Act for picking winners and losers. This year, two cannabis bills became losers when they failed to get a hearing in Cervantes’ Senate Judiciary Committee before the legislative session ended on March 18. House Bill 313 was a clean-up bill that would have indexed plant counts for smaller producers with that of larger producers in addition to giving cannabis regulations more teeth. House Bill 429, which also languished in the Senate Judiciary Committee, would have added cannabis back to the list of contraband not allowed in jails and prisons. The Cannabis Regulation Act deemed the plant no longer an illicit substance, but meant it technically no longer contraband in statute.

New Mexicans will have to wait until next year to see cannabis tax revenue go anywhere other than the state’s general fund since House Bill 315 stalled. The proposal aimed to set up funds for drug education, but without an appropriation the bill couldn’t move forward.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong info about House Bill 6. It did not pass the House. That’s been corrected.

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