Day 59, Friday, March 17, 2023

The Governor signed HB 7 Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care legislation.  The bill, touted by the Governor, allows what she labeled “bodily autonomy” to women across the state.  The law makes null and void city and county measures that declared themselves abortion-free zones.

The law pitting malpractice lawyers against doctors has reached a compromise.  HB 523 will cap damages for independent outpatient clinics at $1 million.  Prior to the compromise all medical facilities faced an annual increased payout to $6 million in 2027.  Unamended the law would make insurance unaffordable, resulting in the closures of these medical facilities.

Lastly, three Bible studies took place during the legislative session and Christians prayer-walked the hall of the Capital.  Prayers were lifted up to God before committee meetings and after.  And the prayers of the saints uttered by us on this call were heard by God and his divine influence ultimately reigns.

Day 58, Thursday, March 16, 2023

With 2 1/2 days remaining in the session, priorities are being sorted out as the session experiences its final push.

Despite strong objections and countless amendments by Republicans, the appropriations bill with $10 million for an abortion clinic is on its way to the Governor for signature.

SB 13, a companion bill to HB 7, has passed the Senate and has passed its first House committee.  The controversial bill that includes curtailing digital communication between public employees and families received a “do pass” vote along party lines.

Tax rebates continue to progress with $500 for individual filers and $1,000 for couples being considered.

Increasing taxes on served drinks by 5 cents per drink is being considered as a means of addressing the state alcohol problem.  Increasing the price of a drink reduces consumption according to proponents.

Please pray that the values that guide the remainder of the session promote life and well-being in the state.

Day 57, Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The deadline for introducing legislation was February 16.  However, before that date there are entered what’s called “dummy bills” that have obfuscated names and are given a number. 
SB 523 was introduced to the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee yesterday.  The bill moves up the cap on medical liability payouts from $750,000 to$1 million.  Physician held a noisy demonstration the Senate chambers last week only to be chastised severely and threatened with expulsion by the Sargent-at-Arms.  SB 523 will not become law this late in the session, but the Senate is sending a message that they’ve heard the doctor’s complaint and are planning to move on it in a later session.

Efforts to remove the $10 million abortion clinic funding from the state budget have come as amendments proposed by both Republican Representatives and Senators.  The need for government intervention in such facility is questionable and it is felt by Republicans to be the responsibility of the private sector.  Each amendment proposed has been defeated.

A bill allowing legal name changes without public notice has passed the Senate.  The sponsor of the bill stated that he is proud to bring forward the bill on behalf of the LGBQ community and those who are victims of domestic violence.

Day 56, Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The bill that would have created new taxes and a new state bureaucracy to afford up to 12 weeks of paid sick and maternity leave has died.   Small businesses, already struggling in a post-COVID environment, were the group especially concerned with SB 11

The Voting Rights Bill that allows felons to vote, registers anyone doing business with DMV, creates a state holiday on election day and a permanent absentee ballot list is ready for the Governor’s signature.  The bill was not passed last year as the result of a prolonged filibuster at the end of the session.

When HB 7 REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH PROVIDER PROTECTIONS was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee, a second amendment to the bill was described by two of the 5 lawyers on the committee as unreadable.  The bill as amended has received “concurrence” from the House and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.  The Senate’s companion will SB 13 includes even more stringent regulations to include disallowing digital communication about a child’s choices regarding abortion and sexual identity issues has passed the Senate and awaiting a hearing by the House Judiciary Committee.

With four days remaining in the session, please pray that for the remainder of the session, legislators place their procedures in God’s hands.

Day 55, Monday, March 13, 2023

We’ve entered the final week of the 60-Day session which ends on Saturday at noon. Most egregious to the Republicans in the chamber is the $10 million capital outlay for an abortion clinic in Dona Anna County, a facility no one sought but the pro-choice Governor wants.  The various budgets with the abortion clinic included have passed both House and the Senate in the amount of $9.57 billion.

Also under consideration is HB 547 which would give individual taxpayers a $500 rebate and joint filers $1,000.

Another contentious outlay is the $60,000 pay raises for each of the Governor’s cabinet officials.  The legislation does not include the current Governor because the constitution disallows the Governor giving herself a raise.  The bill’s sponsor suggested postponing the Governor’s raise for two years at which time the current Governor will be out of office.

The raises for top government officials are at about a 54% increase while raises for regularly employed government workers will be at 5 or 6%.

Day 53, Friday, March 10, 2023

In 2021 the Legislature passed the Death with Dignity act.  The law allows terminally ill persons to kill themselves.  Dr. Greg Schmedes, then a freshman Senator, warned the legislature that not including an opt-out clause would result in lawsuits.  A local Christian physician and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, a Tennessee-based nonprofit group, filed suit in Federal Court, stating without the right to refuse to participate and the right to not refer, First Amendment rights were violated.  In the wake of that lawsuit, the Governor has proposed SB 471 Refusal of End-of-Life Options Act which passed the Senate on a 38-0 vote. 

The same issue is embedded in HB 7.  All abortion and gender-altering interventions must be “affirmed” without exception according to the law.  When the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Linda Serrato, was urged to include an opt-out clause, she responded that the concept was included in “best practices” in other documents.  The Senate sponsor, Sen. Katy Duhigg, argued that including the language was unnecessary and that its inclusion would minimize the inclusion in other laws.

Governor Lujan Grisham is expected to sign HB 7 Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care on Sunday.

Day 52, Thursday, March 9, 2023

When presenting a bill, especially a bill that’s going to cost the government $1.2 million, it’s helpful to throw in some statistics.  HB 134 will require every public school to stock free menstrual products.  Proponents of the bill came up with a BMC Public Health study that found 20% of students have difficulty affording menstrual products.  That number increases to 25% for Hispanic students according to the open-source publication.   The bill, devised by 3 Albuquerque teens, received a “Do Pass” from the Senate Education Committee.

HB 4 Voting Rights Protection was passed by the House and is on its way to the Senate.  Proponents of the bill described a weeping felon who was brought to tears as the result of being disallowed the chance to vote.  In a strategic move, allowing 16-year-olds to vote that was part of last year’s Voting Rights bill was presented as a separate bill and did not survive its first committee hearing.

As we approached the final day, may the lawmakers choose wisely what legislation to advance and what to remain unfinished.