Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

New Mexico Senate advances seven bills with few opponents

The New Mexico Senate on Thursday passed seven pieces of legislation in a series of unanimous votes — with two narrow exceptions.

Senators passed Senate Bill 148 in a 34-0 vote. Sponsored by Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-Albuquerque), SB 148 would eliminate a 3% fee charged to local governments by the state Taxation and Revenue Department for collecting and distributing sales taxes.

The bill was a priority for the New Mexico Municipal League and New Mexico Counties.

If passed into law, it would begin phasing out the fee on July 1, 2026 and completely go away two years later.

Next, senators passed Senate Bill 300 in a 37-0 vote.

Sponsored by Sen. George Muñoz (D-Gallup), SB 300 would allow the State Board of Finance to raise up to $527.8 million for building and maintaining state and federal highways.

Then, senators passed Senate Bill 129 in a 37-0 vote.

Sponsored by Sen. Michael Padilla (D-Albuquerque), SB 129 would create minimum standards for state agencies to protect themselves from cyber attacks that threaten assets, private information or reputation.

The first exception of the day in the Senate was Senate Bill 135, which passed by a38-2 vote.

SB 135 would ensure doctors can ask health insurers to cover medications without the patient having to first try a cheaper version, a strategy insurers use to save money called “step therapy.”

The bill adds medications approved for treating substance use disorder, autoimmune disorders, behavioral health conditions and cancer to the list of drugs that cannot be subject to step therapy or prior authorization requirements.

The two opponents were Sens. Martin Hickey (D-Albuquerque) and Mark Moores (R-Albuquerque). Hickey said he supported the bill but it could lead to more complications and drug-to-drug interactions.

The second exception was Senate Bill 106, which passed in a 38-1 vote.

Sponsored by William Sharer, (R-Farmington), SB 106 which would create a committee to plan a celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and the founding of the U.S. on July 4, 2026.

The lone opponent was Sen. Brenda McKenna (D-Corrales) who did not take the opportunity to explain her vote.

Next, the Senate passed Senate Bill 17 in a 40-0 vote.

Sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Stefanics (D-Cerrillos), SB 17 would create a new program run by the Health Care Authority with the goal of maximizing the impact of state money for health care by redirecting money from certain hospitals to rural hospitals and small urban ones.

Finally, senators passed Senate Bill 108 in a 41-0 vote.

Sponsored by Muñoz, SB 108 would allow the Secretary of State’s Office to pull from a new $20 million pot of money three months after a statewide election, to stabilize the agency’s annual budget.

Each bill now heads the House chamber where they must receive committee review before a full vote. The New Mexico legislative session ends Feb. 15.

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