Historic New Mexico Civil Rights Act Passes Senate Committee

Rep. Georgene Louis

New Mexico House Democrats News:

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Civil Rights Act cleared its first hurdle in the Senate on Friday, passing the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee. The measure has already been passed by the House of Representatives.

Sponsored by Rep. Georgene Louis, Albuquerque, House Speaker Brian Egolf, Santa Fe, and Senator Joseph Cervantes, Las Cruces, Justice for New Mexicans whose constitutional rights have been violated by state actors.

The New Mexico Bill of Rights protects the freedom of New Mexicans with respect to the rights to life and liberty, security and happiness, free elections, freedom of religion, speech and press, equality between men and women, and victims’ rights. Currently, victims who have violated these rights do not have access to justice in a state court. The New Mexico Civil Rights Act just manages that path.

“This legislation has been in the works for a long time. The detailed investigation by the Civil Rights Commission laid the groundwork for the law and we adapted it accordingly after hearing the legitimate concerns of various stakeholders across the state, ”said Rep. Louis. “Ultimately, this bill gives New Mexicans an opportunity to access justice within their communities and in state courts on a day-to-day basis.”

“When we reflect on the events of the past year, we can see how many of our fundamental rights are being challenged both here in New Mexico and across the country. However, there is something we can do to give New Mexicans whose rights have been violated by government misconduct access to justice, ”said spokesman Egolf. “When it goes into effect, the Civil Rights Act will be a powerful new tool for the first-time enforcement of the New Mexico Bill of Rights.”

After hearing the legitimate concerns of stakeholders, the latest version of House Bill 4 clarifies that no individual teacher, law enforcement officer or other public employee can be sued, bringing government agencies solely to account. The bill also puts a $ 2 million cap, including attorney fees, on judgments under the law that provide cities, counties, and other businesses with financial predictability and insurance. The law was changed today to remove acequias, land grants and other small government entities from the definition of a public entity.

House Bill 4, passed by the Senate House 5-3 Health and Public Affairs Committee, is next to be negotiated in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Members of the public can follow the legislation on the New Mexico Legislature website, Access to committee meetings and house floor sessions through the Webcasts tabor attend Zoom to provide public comments on committee hearings. During the 2021 legislative session, the House of Representatives will focus on passing critical laws while protecting the health and safety of the public, staff and lawmakers.

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