The New Mexico Legislature convened for a short, one-month budget session from January 21st through February 21st, 2020. For these sessions, policy issues outside of the budget have to be added to a “call” by the Governor.
For this particular budget session, we worked with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to add a comprehensive overhaul of the New Mexico Tobacco Control Act to the call. We also worked ahead of the session with Senator Mimi Stewart to ensure additional funding for Physical Education was included in the budget.
- The legislature passed AHA-backed legislation (Senate Bill 131) to license all tobacco manufacturers, distributors and retailers in New Mexico and also raise the minimum sales age for tobacco products to 21 in compliance with the federal T21 law. This legislation is expected to be signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham who has supported this bill. This legislation was sponsored by Sen. Linda Lopez, Sen. Gabriel Ramos, Rep. Liz Thomson and Rep. Joanne Ferrary. Other provisions in this legislation include:
- Removing criminal penalties for minors if they attempt to purchase tobacco products.
- Removing criminal penalties for clerks if they sell tobacco products to minors.
- Removing criminal penalties for minors who sell tobacco products to other minors.
- Imposing graduated civil penalties (through rule-making process) against retailers/store owners for selling to minors and suspending their tobacco retail license on a fourth violation within three years.
- The legislation sets manufacturer, distributor and retailer application fees at $750 and $400 annual renewal fees.
- AHA plans to work with New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department to establish civil penalties and effective compliance guidelines during the administrative rule-making process.
- The law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.
- In addition to our efforts to pass the above legislation, we had to work defensively to stop multiple efforts to amend with additional tobacco preemption. Although we were not able to repeal existing preemption as we had hoped, we were successful at stopping these amendments and keeping additional tobacco preemption off the books.
- AHA worked with Senator Mimi Stewart to secure $6 million for physical education programs for K-5 elementary school children in New Mexico. This will be implemented by the New Mexico Public Education Department. Sen. Stewart has been a persistent champion of PE education in elementary school and she has been instrumental in securing this funding.
Lastly, we would like to thank all of our You're the Cure advocates for taking action when we alerted you and a special thank you to those who joined us at the Roundhouse to help make these policy wins happen! We couldn't do it without you!