New Mexico House Kicks Off Historic 2021 Session

House Speaker Brian Egolf

STATE News:

SANTA FE — The New Mexico House of Representatives called to order its 55th Legislature at noon Tuesday.

This year’s 60-day session will be a historic first in state history, with the majority of the session taking place virtually due to COVID-19. 

Recognizing the pandemic-related challenges facing New Mexicans, House Democrats are focused on delivering relief to hard-working families and small businesses, and solutions to uplift a generation.

Legislative priorities this session include economic recovery, health care, civil rights, rural infrastructure, climate change and education. 

“We will not be deterred from doing the important work ahead of us. Our priority is economic recovery for small businesses and hardworking New Mexicans along with solutions that address the systemic challenges facing the people of New Mexico,” said Speaker of the House Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) in his opening remarks.

“Let’s set an example for the rest of the country, as we’ve done before, about what we can accomplish when we put people before politics and commit ourselves to doing what’s right.”

Speaker Egolf was reelected to his leadership position in today’s session, newly elected Representatives were sworn in, and the following House Committee chairs were named, creating one of the most diverse House leadership teams in the country: 

House Democratic Leadership

  • Majority Floor Leader: Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton  (D – Albuquerque)
  • Majority Whip: Rep. Doreen Gallegos (D – Las Cruces)
  • Majority Caucus Chair: Rep. D. Wonda Johnson (D – Church Rock)

House Agriculture & Water Resources Committee

  • Chair: Rep. Derrick Lente (D – Sandia Pueblo)
  • Vice Chair: Rep. Susan Herrera (D – Embudo)

House Appropriations & Finance Committee

  • Chair: Patricia A. Lundstrom (D – Gallup)
  • Vice Chair: Rep. Nathan Small (D – Doña Ana)

House Commerce & Economic Development Committee

  • Chair: Rep. Antonio Maestas (D – Albuquerque)
  • Vice Chair: Rep. Natalie Figueroa (D – Albuquerque)

House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee

  • Chair: Rep. Liz Thomson  (D – Albuquerque)
  • Vice Chair: Rep. Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe)

House Education Committee

  • Chair: Rep. G. Andrés Romero (D – Albuquerque)
  • Vice Chair: Rep. Joy Garratt (D -Albuquerque)

House Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Committee

  • Chair: Rep. Matthew McQueen (D – Santa Fe)
  • Vice Chair: Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D – Albuquerque)

House Health & Human Services Committee

  • Chair: Rep. Debbie Armstrong (D – Albuquerque)
  • Vice Chair: Rep. Joanne Ferrary (D – Las Cruces)

House Judiciary Committee

  • Chair: Rep. Gail Chasey (D – Albuquerque)
  • Vice Chair: Rep. Micaela Cadena (D – Mesilla)

House Labor, Veterans’ & Military Affairs Committee

  • Chair: Rep. Eliseo Alcon (D – Milan)
  • Vice Chair: Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero  (D – Albuquerque)

House Local Government, Land Grants & Cultural Affairs Committee

  • Chair: Rep Miguel Garcia (D – Albuquerque)
  • Vice Chair: Rep. Linda Serrato (D – Santa Fe)

House Rules & Order of Business Committee

  • Chair: Rep. Daymon Ely (D – Corrales)
  • Vice Chair: Rep. Debbie Armstrong (D – Albuquerque)

House State Government, Elections & Indian Affairs Committee

  • Chair: Rep. Georgene Louis (D – Albuquerque)
  • Vice Chair: Rep. D. Wonda Johnson (D – Church Rock)

House Taxation & Revenue Committee

  • Chair: Rep. Javier Martinez (D – Albuquerque)
  • Vice Chair: Rep. Christine Chandler (D – Los Alamos)

House Transportation, Public Works & Capital Improvements Committee

  • Chair: Rep. Angelica Rubio (D – Las Cruces)
  • Vice Chair: Rep. Harry Garcia (D – Grants)

More than 100 new bills also were introduced on the House floor during the first day of session and assigned to committee.

Highlights include: 

  • House Bill 4: New Mexico Civil Rights Act
  • House Bill 20: Healthy Workplaces Act
  • House Bill 22: Grow Your Own Teachers Act
  • House Bill 29: No School Discrimination for Hair
  • House Bill 38: Paid Sick Leave Act
  • House Bill 42: Low-Income Comprehensive Tax Rebate Changes
  • House Bill 70: Domestic Terrorism Definitions
  • House Bill 82: Historically Underutilized Businesses
  • House Bill 83: Change Graduation Requirements
  • House Bill 88: Finished Hemp Product Sales
  • House Bill 104: Expand Rural Health Tax Credit for Pandemic
  • House Bill 106: Community Solar Act

The House also passed the feed bill to fund this year’s session today, including funds for additional security and law enforcement, to ensure that the session will proceed in a safe and healthy manner. 

“As we navigate these unprecedented times, the safety and livelihood of New Mexicans remains at the top of our agenda,” said Rep. Debbie Armstrong (D-Albuquerque), Chair of the House Health & Human Services Committee. “We are taking all necessary precautions this session, and continuing to support the state’s widespread testing and vaccination efforts so that we can safely reopen our economy.” 

House Education Chair G. Andrés Romero (D – Albuquerque) added: “As parents get back to work, we also want to get our kids back into the classroom. Through robust support and dedicated funding, we are providing school districts with the resources needed to navigate COVID and safely reopen as soon as possible.” 

“Ultimately, our goal in 2021 is to pass a responsible budget that helps our state recover from COVID-19, invests in our people, and charts a course for economic recovery for New Mexico,” said House Appropriations and Finance Committee Chair Patricia A. Lundstrom (D-Gallup). 

During the historic 2021 session, committee meetings will be held virtually and House floor sessions will be a hybrid of virtual and in-person. 

The Roundhouse will be closed to the public for the entirety of the 2021 session to prevent potential community spread of the novel coronavirus. However, there are unprecedented opportunities for digital public participation.

Members of the public can view and provide comments during upcoming committee meetings via the New Mexico Legislature website on the Webcasts tab. Many Democratic representatives also will be holding regular digital office hours, where constituents can meet with them individually to share concerns and feedback.

CSTsiteisloaded