Roundhouse Rundown: State alcohol taxes, CYFD background checks, NM beef
SANTA FE, N.M. – It’s beginning to feel like crunch time at the Roundhouse as state lawmakers slowly start prioritizing which bills to focus on with their limited time left.
BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR CYFD WORKERS
On Monday, the Senate tackled a bill updating background check requirements for all CYFD workers, and other state employees that work extensively with children.
The bill’s sponsor says it’s meant to comply with FBI requirements. Some lawmakers asserted they should be doing more to address issues at CYFD but agreed this is still a beneficial proposal, and unanimously approved the bill.
NEW MEXICO’S ALCOHOL TAXES
Meanwhile, a proposal reworking New Mexico’s alcohol taxes cleared its first House committee Monday morning.
Instead of taxing distributors a flat rate, the new plan would tax retailers like bars, restaurants, and grocery stores — based on the amount of alcohol sold:
- 4% for liquor
- 3% for wine
- 2% for beer
The bill’s sponsors say it’s a more fair plan that also brings more revenue into behavioral health programs.
“We realized this was a flawed tax policy fundamentally. And we’re bringing this bold new approach so that New Mexicans have clarity on what the tax is and how they pay it. And we’ll see how that changes their decision-making and drinking,” said state Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena.
NEW MEXICO BEEF
A House panel also unanimously approved a proposal Monday to open up New Mexico’s beef industry.
The Meat Inspection Act would bring more state inspectors online, allowing more New Mexico-grown beef to be processed, sold and eaten in New Mexico.
House Bill 162 is now heading to the House floor for a vote.
HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS
A bill reworking New Mexico’s high school graduation requirements is now heading to the Senate floor for a vote after clearing its final committee Monday morning. House Bill 171 is potentially just one vote away from the governor’s desk.
PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE
While we’re talking about bills moving forward, we want to take a quick look at all the proposal state lawmakers approved over the weekend. That includes a controversial paid family and medical leave proposal.
It’s now heading to the Senate floor for a vote – that’s the halfway point in the session.
This version of the bill allows up to 12 weeks of paid time off for New Mexico workers, but it’s facing stiff opposition from business leaders.
CLEAN TRANSPORTATION FUEL PROPOSAL
Speaking of controversy, the House narrowly approved the clean transportation fuels proposal Saturday. This proposal would establish a carbon tax credit program, which is meant to incentivize fuel companies to invest in cleaner options – like reduced carbon fuels and even hydrogen.
Republican lawmakers have argued the bill would significantly raise gas prices, and tried adding a requirement to put stickers on gas pumps warning New Mexicans. The bill’s sponsor challenged that idea.
“No other state with this program has seen prices at the pump increase as a result of this program, and we’ve built in some very important guardrails to address the points that you raised,” said state Rep. Kristina Ortez.
NEW WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT & APPRENTICESHIP FUND/ AFFIRMATIVE CONSENT
The House also approved a $30 million investment into a new workforce development and apprenticeship fund.
They also passed a bill requiring New Mexico colleges and universities to establish clear standards of “affirmative consent” to hopefully prevent sexual assault and harassment on campuses.
The Legislature approved a similar initiative last year for Kindergarten through 12th grade students.
We’re expecting big debates on several gun control proposals later this week. State lawmakers only have until next Thursday to get bills through both chambers and to the governor’s desk.