SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The second week of New Mexico’s 2022 regular legislative session starts today. Monday January 24, lots of state departments and boards will be presenting their budget requests before legislators, hoping to get funding to support their work.
We already heard some groups present last week. But Monday, we can expect to hear from the Regulation and Licensing Department, which oversees the state’s Cannabis Control Division. The Educational Retirement Board, the Retiree Health Care Authority, the Education Retirement Board, and the Public Employees Retirement Association will also present in front of the Legislative Finance Committee. The State Treasurer and General Services Department, which is tasked with purchasing and furnishing goods and services for the State Government, will also present.
The New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department will also give their budget request. The agency, tasked with protecting children from abuse and neglect among other things, will be asking for funds to increase staff levels.
Funding for child protection
- Today, Monday January 24, the New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department (CYFD) will present its budget request. Overall, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has recommended adding more than $29 million to the department’s budget. More than $12 million of that would go towards their Protective Services Division.
- KRQE News 13 previously reported that the department has recently had issues finding foster families for some teens. The department told KRQE News 13 that the COVID-19 pandemic has added to the issue by limiting placement options.
- In 2018 a group of foster children brought a lawsuit against CYFD, claiming that the state failed “to provide the stability and support” children in state custody need. The department eventually entered into a settlement agreement and the department is now requesting funding to fill 90 staff positions in Protective Services to comply with the settlement.
Cannabis Control Division funding
- Today, Monday January 24, the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department (RLD) will present its budget request. Both the Governor and the Legislative Finance Committee propose funding new staff members at the Cannabis Control Division, which resides within RLD.
- Victor Reyes, the deputy superintendent at the New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department previously told KRQE News 13 that the funds would help provide better customer service for people applying to enter the cannabis industry. “We need to have additional staff members to better serve the public — make sure that we are making customer service a priority,” Reyes said.
- Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has already requested legislators consider Senate Bill 100, which clarifies some of the laws relating to cannabis. The bill would increase the number of mature cannabis plants a cannabis microbusiness could possess from 200 plants to 1,000 plants.
- The Regulation and Licensing Department has additional divisions under its oversight. Beyond cannabis, the department also regulates securities investments such as stocks, construction contractor licenses, and liquor licenses.
Bail reform and more orientation meetings
- Several other committees will meet to orient and organize their members. These include the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee, and the Senate Education Committee.
- Today, Monday January 24, the meetings are expected to focus on orienting members. Afterwards, some legislation might be discussed.
- Each of the committees is made up of senators who will discuss key issues related to the topic mentioned in their committee name. The Senate Judiciary, for example, will discuss topics that relate to the criminal justice system.
- Already requested by the Governor are several pieces of legislation related to criminal justice system changes. These include House Bill 79, which would increase penalties for second degree murders and House Bill 5, which is aimed at making it easier for prosecutors to detain accused violent criminals before trial.
- Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled some discussion on bail reform and related issues. This afternoon, after discussing judicial retirement changes in SB 2, they seem likely to examine the issue of detaining accused criminals before trial. If they discuss the issue, it would be from various perspectives, including prosecutors, defenders, and judges.
- The Senate Judiciary Committee meeting will start at 1:30 in the afternoon, assuming there are no delays. The public can listen in via Zoom.