SANTA FE — At noon, Thursday, the Special Session of the 54th Legislature of the New Mexico House of Representatives gaveled in to address the pressing and urgent needs of the people of New Mexico in the middle of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The New Mexico Speaker of the House, Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe), opened the session by addressing all members present, speaking to the unprecedented circumstances New Mexicans are facing and how the Legislature can work to best support the people of the state.
“This truly is a historical and unprecedented moment in the history of this legislative body,” said Speaker of the House Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe). “The gravity of the moment calls for this legislature to not only address the immediate budget needs of state government, but also address longstanding wounds in our society by taking action to address the racial injustice in our state.”
In addition to addressing the estimated $2 billion budget shortfall as a result of the global economic shutdown and collapse in the price of oil, the Legislature will also be considering legislation to address the economic crisis with, tax relief for individuals, restaurant assistance and low-risk loans to small locally-owned businesses and local governments. The Legislature will also address the cultural and civic wellbeing of the state through bills addressing police reform, election improvements, and ending institutional racism.
“Not one community in our state remains unscathed in the face of both this public health emergency and the continued racial injustices that have long plagued our state and country” said Representative and Majority Floor Leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton. “New Mexicans statewide are struggling and are looking to this legislative body to address their needs and provide some relief in this time of uncertainty.”
Prioritizing the health and wellbeing of House members, the public, and staff alike, the House has adopted temporary rule changes implementing COVID-safe practices including social distancing and face mask wearing. All House deliberations, votes, and committee hearings have been moved online via webcast and Zoom for public viewing and remote input. Rule changes will revert back to prior House rules upon the conclusion of the Special Session.
Legislation included on the Governor’s call to be considered by the legislature for the special session includes the following, with House sponsors:
- Budget Recovery – Rep. Patty Lundstrom
- NM Civil Rights Commission – Rep. Brian Egolf
- Chokehold Ban & Requiring Lapel Cameras for Police Officers – Rep. Micaela Cadena
- Elections Accessibility – Rep. Linda Trujillo
- Tax Relief for Businesses and Families – Rep. Christine Chandler
- Small Business Recovery Act – Rep. Daymon Ely & Rep. Marian Matthews
To protect the health and wellbeing of the public and members of the House, rule changes have been adopted to turn the challenges of legislating during a pandemic into opportunities for greater transparency and public engagement. Thanks to innovations at the Capitol by legislative staff, the public will have an unprecedented connection to legislators from their own home. Every committee meeting, floor debate, and vote will be webcasted live at www.nmlegis.gov and over Zoom video conferencing.