New Mexico governor signs 3 bills from special session
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The creation of a state commission on civil rights and changes aimed at ensuring access to Election Day polls on Native American lands were among the measures signed into law Friday by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
The governor also signed a bill that would authorize the issuance of short-term bonds as part of an effort to stabilize state finances amid the economic upheaval prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The three bills were among eight that lawmakers passed during the recent special session, which focused primarily on solvency issues for state government. Lujan Grisham still has to act on the budget bill as well as legislation that would mandate police body cameras for nearly all state and local law enforcement officers.
As for the civil rights commission, the nine-member panel will consider changes to qualified immunity provisions that currently protect police officers from lawsuits, allowing them to be sued for misconduct. It also will be charged with making recommendations regarding the creation of a civil right of action for any violations of state constitutional rights.
Under the legislation, a report from the commission is due to lawmakers by Nov. 15.
Separately Lujan Grisham recently convened a council on racial justice to prepare an anti-racism agenda for consideration by legislators when they meet for their next regular session in January.
The legislation pertaining to elections allows for specialized public health orders to protect election officials, poll workers and voters. It also protects the voting rights of New Mexico Pueblos and tribes by ensuring polling places will not be closed or consolidated without the written agreement of tribal officials.
While the short-term bonding measure passed with bipartisan support, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are still concerned about the difficult choices they’ll be faced with in 2021 as they craft the next state budget. They’ll be dealing with a significant revenue shortfall.
Senate Minority Floor Leader Stuart Ingle said the measures passed during the special session will keep the state “out of some hot water” for the short term without having to raise taxes.
“But New Mexicans need to understand that the budget solution used one-time money,” the Portales Republican said. “The state won’t be out of financial danger until the economy picks up substantially and tax dollars come into the state coffers on a regular basis.”