New Mexico may discipline, fine workers who release records

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s Senate has approved a bill that would allow state employees to be fired or fined up to $5,000 for identifying people who receive public benefits or releasing information about an individual’s immigration status, national origin, religion or sexual orientation.

The bill from Democratic state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and Rep. Miguel Garcia of Albuquerque is backed by advocacy groups for immigrant communities.

It won Senate approval Monday on a 34-6 vote.

Government transparency advocates and the state attorney general’s office warn that the bill makes some information confidential by default and would inject ambiguity into current laws that protect access to public records.