2021 Session: What Got Done & What Didn't
With new legislators came hope that progressive bills that have been blocked for years would at last have a chance. Some transformational legislation made it through while lots of bills ran into opposition or failed because of delaying tactics.
After ten years of advocacy efforts, HJR 1 passed. HJR 1 proposes an increase of 1.25% of the average year-end value in disbursements from the land grant permanent fund. Forty percent will be directed toward public schools and sixty percent will provide early childhood education. This is a significant achievement, but it still requires a vote by the public in the next general election.
HB 291 is a tax bill that made major strides to restoring equity to New Mexico’s tax structure. The Low Income Tax Credit and the Working Families Tax Credit were increased and expanded. According to New Mexico Voices for Children, “the combined changes will return more than $100 million to working families and seniors earning low incomes every year.” The original bill included tax increases on corporations and those in the highest income brackets, but these were eliminated. The tax increases would have helped to offset the tax credits.
SB 193, the Rural Equity Ombudsman Act, creates a position to ensure that the needs of rural New Mexico are considered in future legislation.
Three broadband bills passed, possibly the two most noteworthy are HB 10 and SB 93. HB 10 will create the Connect New Mexico Council to coordinate state broadband programs. SB 93 will establish the Office of Broadband Access and Expansion.
While the Climate Solutions bill did not pass, some of the goals were included in SB 112, which will create the Sustainable Economy Task Force to develop a strategic plan to transition the state economy away from a reliance on extractive industries.
HB 20, the Healthy Workplaces Act creates a way for all employees to accrue paid sick leave. The Healthy Workplaces Act will take effect July 1, 2022.
HB 207, the Food, Hunger & Farm Act was pulled, but SB 377, the Junior Bill included a charge to the NM Human Services Department (HSD) to “develop and implement a comprehensive plan to address hunger and food insecurity and to strengthen food systems in the state in partnership with other agencies and stakeholders in the agriculture, food and hunger-alleviation sectors.”
SB 3, the Small Business Recovery Act was passed in the first few weeks of the session. It expands and extends the Small Business Recovery Act of 2020. Nonprofits are eligible for these low interest loans.
SB 99, the Tax Exempt Organization Audits bill was a proposed technical fix to bring New Mexico's audit requirements in line with the federal requirements. Even though the bill passed through all committees and the Senate without opposition, it never came up for a vote on the House floor.
SJR 24 was a bill to amend the anti-donation clause to make it easier for nonprofits to access capital outlay funds. It was one of three bills on the anti-donation clause. HJR 9 sought an amendment to allow for state investment in infrastructure. SJR 9 proposed repealing the anti-donation clause. HJR 9 got further than the other two bills, and was waiting for a vote on the Senate floor when time ran out.
Nonprofits and the communities we serve have cause to celebrate.
We also have more work to do.
Talk with legislators during the interim to help them understand the needs in our communities. Let your state representative and senator know what your organization has been doing during the pandemic.
New Mexico has a volunteer legislature. Our elected officials rely on advocates for much of their information. Some advocates/lobbyists have substantial resources and some do not. New Mexico nonprofits have the opportunity and the obligation to provide lawmakers with solid, accurate information to benefit all New Mexicans.