Lawmakers rush to pass bills in final days of legislative session

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SANTA FE, N.M. – Lawmakers in Santa Fe were hard at it Wednesday as they rushed to pass dozens of bills in the waning hours of the legislative session. There are less than three days left to finish their work at this point.

Lawmakers spent hours debating bills Wednesday that passed by wide margins.

Importantly, being inside the 72-hour means the governor now has 20 days to act on legislation that passes from here on out, including line-item veto power for the budget and billions in one time spending.

After weeks spent trying to hammer out a medical malpractice solution, a proposed fix is moving at lightning speed – despite warnings from plaintiff’s attorney and Sen. Joe Cervantes that it might not be such a perfect fix.

“And so we relied on this grand compromise, this masterful work. And so in 2021, we changed the Medical Malpractice Act yet again. An act that hadn’t been touched since 1992, we changed it twice, and here we are in 2023, and we’re changing it yet again,” said Cervantes. 

The measure includes a yearly look at how many malpractice cases were settled by independent outpatient clinics at the center of the storm, as well as how much money is paid out.

There’s also more than $32 million in the budget to shore up the compensation fund used to settle some lawsuits.

The Senate passed the measure, and the House already has it in committee after agreeing to Senate changes to the $9.6 billion budget that included a couple wins for the governor’s pet programs, added by the Senate.

“Roughly $100 million of that went to the Opportunity Scholarship, roughly $22 million of that went to the food initiatives,” said Rep. Nathan Small. 

Finally, New Mexico is set to make bestiality a specific crime not just cruelty to animals.

The House voted unanimously to send a measure to the governor that creates not just the crime, but harsher penalties for it.

New Mexico is one of just two states without a specific law on the books.