Thursday, February 11, 2016

State Legislative Update from the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry

The following update from the 2016 session of the New Mexico State Legislature comes from Ruth Hoffman, director of Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-New Mexico.

Summary of the major bills relating to the LAM-NM Advocacy Agenda 
(Bills LAM-NM supports are "green" & bills we oppose are "red") 

The estimates of state revenue are dismal! 
This means that the state budget for the next fiscal year will be very lean and the budget for the current fiscal year is underfunded. It is crucial that the state budget not be balanced by making deep cuts in the programs that impact the lives of our many neighbors living in poverty. HB2, the state budget bill, has passed the House and is now in the Senate Finance Committee. 

Affordable Housing & Homelessness: 
SB63 (Sen. Nancy Rodriguez) Requests an appropriation of $5 million for the State Housing Trust Fund which provides funding to build affordable housing projects around the state. SB63 is in the Senate Finance Committee.

SB202 (Sen. Bill O'Neill) Adds "homelessness" as a protected group in the NM Hate Crimes Act. SB202 was tabled in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

HB59 & HB88 (Rep. Tomas Salazar) Request a total of $4.5 million for transitional/permanent supportive housing, rapid re-housing and other services. No new funding for these programs is included in the current version of HB2, the state budget bill.

Family-Sustaining Income
LAM-NM is supporting increasing the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families monthly cash assistance amount.

No increase is included in the current version of HB2, the state budget bill.

SJR2 (Sen. Michael Padilla)
This constitutional amendment would allow an increase in the distribution from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to fund quality early childhood programs. SJR2 passed the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee and is now in the Senate Finance Committee.

HJR11 (Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero)
This constitutional amendment would have asked voters to approve putting a cap of 36% on loans in our state. HJR11 was tabled in the House Business & Employment Committee.

Health Care
LAM-NM is advocating for adequate funding for the state Medicaid program. The current version of the HB2, the state budget bill, includes about a $40 million cut to the Medicaid program.

HB191 (Rep. Dennis Roch & Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto) and SB217 (Sen. Benny Shendo & Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage) Would create the profession of dental therapist. These bills have not been ruled germane for consideration in this session.

SB52 (Sen. Nancy Rodriguez) Requests $400,000 for the State SNAP Supplement Program which serves over 11,000 seniors and people with disabilities by increasing their basic SNAP amount to at least $25. We are advocating for funding to increase the minimum amount to $30 per month. SB52 is in the Senate Finance Committee. Funding to increase the monthly minimum amount to $28 is included in the current version of HB2, the state budget bill.

Tax Policy
HB79 (Rep. Bill McCamley) Would increase the state Working Families Tax Credit from 10% to 20% of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and to repeal the capital gains tax deduction. HB79 passed the House Business & Employment Committee without recommendation and was tabled in the House Ways & Means Committee.

HB99, as amended ( Rep. Paul Pacheco) HB99 passed the House and was amended in the Senate Public Affairs Committee to reflect the provisions in SB256 (Sens. John Arthur Smith & Stuart Ingle). HB99, as amended, passed that committee by a vote of 8-1 and then passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously. The amendments provide for a 2 tier license system. Residents can choose to get a REAL ID drivers license if they need one or choose to get a drivers privilege card. Drivers privilege cards would be available to both legal residents and undocumented residents. HB99 is now in the Senate Finance Committee.

Criminal Justice
SB140 (Sen. Mary Kay Papen) Would prohibit solitary confinement for juveniles and people with a serious mental illness and would require prisons, jails and detention centers to report information about who is held in solitary confinement. SB140 has not been ruled germane for consideration in this session.

SJR1 (Sen. Peter Wirth & Sen. Sander Rue) This is a constitutional amendment for bail reform. SJR1 would allow judges to deny bail for dangerous arrestees and also prohibit keep arrestees who are not deemed dangerous from being held in jail only because they can't afford bail. SJR1 passed the Senate Floor by a vote of 29-9, has passed the House Judiciary Committee and is how in the House Regulatory & Public Affairs Committee.

LAM-NM will advocating on legislation relating to our 2016 Advocacy Agenda. We work in an advocacy partnership with the NM Conference of Churches and the Presbytery of Santa Fe.

Watch for LAM-NM Advocacy Updates and Action Alerts! Forward our Updates to others that might be interested in these issues using the link at the end of this email.

Thank you for your advocacy actions!

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