2024 Legislature at a Glance

Budget, guns, schools and the threat of a special session are among the highlights

Now that the New Mexico Legislature’s 30-day session is in the rearview mirror following the final gavels on Feb. 15, lawmakers, advocates and the rest of the state await news about whether Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will approve the 72 bills that made it through both the Senate and House of Representatives.

The governor has already signed a few—notably new graduation requirements and a salary increase for Supreme Court justices. But Lujan Grisham’s stack for consideration doesn’t include a number of measures for which she advocated in the public safety realm.

“Both houses are well aware that I’m frustrated that not enough…public safety measures got up,” Lujan Grisham said during a post-session news conference, noting that just nine of 25 bills she favored on the topic earned approval.

Then came the warning: “It’s not off the table that we have a public safety special session,” she said.

Lujan Grisham has done it before: In the spring of 2021, she called a second session of the Legislature after a measure to legalize adult-use cannabis didn’t pass during the regular session; and in 2022, she called lawmakers to an extra session to consider tax rebates.

Before she makes the decision this year, however, the governor said she will “be closely evaluating” the legislation that did land on her desk. The deadline to sign bills is March 6.

Here are some of the highs and lows on major topics of the 2024 session:


The Legislature’s main purpose in a 30-day session is passage of the budget for the following fiscal year, and this year lawmakers checked that box with a day and a half to spare, sending a plan Feb. 13 to the governor’s desk for a record $10.22 billion budget that includes a 30% reserve and a number of trust funds, such as the $300 million for the Conservation Legacy Fund to create a steady recurring stream of funding for water, outdoor recreation and other projects. The proposal represents $653 million more in recurring spending than the current year’s budget, or about 6.8% more. It calls for 3% raises for state employees as well as separate hikes to judicial and State Police pay and includes $5 million for food banks; $60 million for workforce training; $75 million for childcare assistance; an additional $50 million in the housing trust; $50 million for rural health care and hospitals; and $19.7 million in services to combat homelessness.

Speaker of the House Rep. Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque, said in a press conference on the floor shortly after the session concluded that legislators “made great headway in making a real difference” with the record budget, calling it their “number one job” during their time in the Roundhouse.

“I can tell you in my 10 years as a member…I have never been more proud of a budget that we passed out of this House,” Martinez said. “It is a budget that puts the people of New Mexico first. It is a budget that truly incorporates the needs of rural New Mexico and balances that with the needs of urban New Mexico.”

Lawmakers also approved a bill containing $1.4 billion in capital outlay for 1,400 projects. They also set aside $200 million for housing in various legislation, albeit without approving a proposal from the governor to create a new “Office of Affordable Housing.” They didn’t, however, act on proposals to increase the tax on alcohol.


Proposed revisions to firearm laws occupied hours and hours of legislative testimony and debate, resulting in the passage of two measures: a seven-day waiting period for firearm purchases (House Bill 129) and a prohibition against guns at polling places (Senate Bill 5). A number of other proposals died, including HB127, a bill to raise the legal age for firearm purchases to 21, and HB137, a ban on gas-powered, semi-automatic firearms. Neither received a hearing on the House floor after earning “do pass” in committees. Lujan Grisham had named both measures as part of a public safety package for the session. Martínez called the seven-day wait “a big deal” in the post-session news conference, adding when lawmakers considered potential gun measures, it “statistically has the most impact…Our job here is not to just pass bills and see what sticks. Our job here is to be smart about what we pass and be targeted about what we pass,” he said. “We believe the waiting period bill is exactly that.”

If Lujan Grisham signs the bill, New Mexico will become the 12th state with a waiting period. Backers argued the waiting period would help reduce suicide and “crimes of passion,” while opponents—mostly Republicans but also including a number of Democrats in each chamber—said the number of days, reduced from 14 in the original proposal, was arbitrary. Senate Joint Resolution 12, a measure promoted by Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber and which sought to place on a future ballot a constitutional amendment to give local governments the ability to make their own gun laws stricter than the state’s, never had a hearing.


In addition to setting up the largest-ever budget allocation for the Public Education Department at $4.4 billion, lawmakers also approved new high-school graduation requirements for New Mexico students—which the governor signed into law on Feb. 9. HB171 includes eliminating Algebra 2 as a graduation requirement; requiring a one-year course covering civics, economics and personal finance; and giving local school boards and charter schools the power to choose up two units for local graduation requirements. Further, a new trust fund for higher education would endow funds for scholarships covering tuition and fees at public universities, with the first $48 million distribution due July 1 this year. On Feb. 14, the Senate adopted HB151 for state-funded post-secondary institutions to establish an “affirmative consent” standard defining that consent to sexual activity cannot be assumed from “silence or a lack of protest or resistance,” among other specifications. The bill also would require these institutions to adopt trauma-informed policies and responses for the investigation of sexual assault allegations. But a second try for an education bill to establish a trust fund for tribal education, however, didn’t make it through the process. House Bill 134 died when sponsor Rep. Derrick Lente, D-Sandia Pueblo, suddenly pulled the bill from the Senate’s calendar a day before the session ended. Another bill Lente sponsored aiming to reform funding for Indigenous education, HB135, also died in committee this year. Lente told SFR he pulled the bill in 2023 when the House Education Committee lacked consensus on the amount of funding, but this year, he paused the bill when he learned senators planned to attempt to amend it on the floor.


Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, hailed the surge of funding for the Conservation Legacy Fund as one way to turn “today money” into “tomorrow money” for water projects. But lawmakers didn’t get behind a proposal from Lujan Grisham on a “Strategic Water Supply.” A weakened version of the governor’s idea died on the vine after the Senate Conservation Committee first tabled the measure, then gave it a “no recommendation” in a rushed hearing the next day. The governor announced her plan, which called for the state to pay private companies to develop treatment and delivery systems for underground brackish water and for water pumped to the surface by the oil and gas industry, during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai last year. While Lujan Grisham originally called for $250 million in severance tax bonds from the current legislative session and a total of $500 million with future bonds, SB294—sponsored by Sen. Liz Stefanics, D-Santa Fe, at the governor’s behest—originally sought to carve out $100 million in severance tax bonds for the projects. Under the proposal, the state would support privately funded water treatment operations by promising to purchase water, then sell it to manufacturers. The bill notably removed all references to the oil and gas industry’s “produced water” and instead only included projects for “water sourced from a brackish water aquifer.” A last-ditch effort that Environment Secretary James Kenney brought back to the committee watered down the funding even further by adding a provision that the bonds would only be issued after approval from the 2025 Legislature.

Paid Family Medical Leave

After the final vote to shoot down the proposed Paid Family Medical Leave Act in the House, supporters on the House floor made enough noise to merit notice by Speaker Martinez, who asked the sergeants at arms to control the “displays of emotion” in the chamber. The 34-36 vote on Feb. 14 was the nail in the coffin for SB3, which had sailed out of the Senate 25-15. The bill called for all employees and employers with five or more workers to pay into a fund that would be administered by the state Department of Workforce Solutions to establish 12-weeks of paid leave for certain purposes, including to care for newborn children and ailing family members. It had support from the ACLU and New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice as well as the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, NM Health Equity Council and others, all of whom say they plan to try again in a future session. Under a 2019 executive order, state employees may access a similar 12-week benefit; the bills would have created a way for more New Mexicans to have that opportunity. Opponents said they were concerned the law would adversely affect small businesses, among other issues.


Both Houses adopted HB41 to establish a “clean transportation fuel standard.” Backers of the legislation, which is similar to laws in place already in California, Oregon and Washington, said it would help lessen greenhouse gas emissions and decrease co-pollutants that harm human health. New Mexico would create a board responsible for rules that seek to annually reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels used in the state to at least 20% below 2018 carbon intensity levels by 2030—and 30% below by 2040. Producers and importers of high-carbon fuel must purchase clean fuels. Under the program, low-carbon fuel producers and importers would also generate clean fuels credits to sell in the markets. Revenues from the sale of credits would be invested into grid modernization, infrastructure and “other projects that support transportation decarbonization,” among other items, and 50% of the revenues must support low-income and underserved communities. Meanwhile bills intended to reform laws on oil and gas extraction did not succeed, including HB133, which would have increased fines for pollution, codified methane-capture rules and required setbacks from schools; and SB24, which would have hiked the royalty rate paid to the state by the extractive industries. HB252, a measure to make tax exemptions for certain aspects of production, is heading to the governor, however.

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