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Local fifth-grader’s bill becomes New Mexico law


“My homework for TeenPact New Mexico was to write a bill, serious or fun, that I would be willing to discuss at the event,” said Braden McIntosh, a Las Cruces fifth-grader. “I had no clue I would have a chance to share my idea with our state leaders.” 


Just a few weeks later, on April 5, McIntosh’s idea was signed into law by the governor.


In the beginning, McIntosh had no inkling his idea for a bill to raise funds for additional youth programming through the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish would find traction. 


He took his idea to two state senators, Cliff R. Pirtle and Joshua A. Sanchez, who quickly ran with his idea.


After discussing his bill idea with Sen. Sanchez and Sen. Pirtle, McIntosh was accompanied to Legislative Council Services where he presented his bill idea for drafting. 


Sponsored by Sen. Sanchez and Sen. Pirtle, Senate Bill 392 is a voluntary public fundraising effort to increase funding for already established youth programs administered by the New Mexico Game & Fish across all five state game commission districts. 


As written, the bill “shall provide an opportunity for a person who makes a purchase from the department of game and fish to donate money to the youth programs by rounding up the dollar amount or donating a custom amount.” 


The bill passed through two senate committee meetings in February, and it was presented on the Senate Floor Friday, March 3. McIntosh was called to the Senate floor as an expert witness. The bill passed unanimously with a vote of 35-0. Then it passed the House of Representatives unanimously, 61-0, in the final hours of the 2023 legislative session. 


TeenPact New Mexico, a national organization that hosts state events across the country to provide participants with leadership experience and hands-on training in the political process. McIntosh’s lesson in state law-making began with a homework assignment prior to attending the New Mexico TeenPact event in early February.


At the signing, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham encouraged McIntosh by saying she believes his bill will inspire youth and their families because it will provide greater access to the outdoors.


McIntosh agreed that by getting more youth outdoors they can learn to appreciate New Mexico’s natural resources. “Whether it’s archery, fishing, off-roading, hiking or more, getting youth outside to experience nature will help our state in the future to be the beautiful Land of Enchantment it is today,” he said.


At the close of the bill signing, Lujan Grisham and McIntosh discovered they both have a passion for fly fishing. When asked which fish was his favorite, McIntosh said, “The one that puts up the biggest fight.”


McIntosh, who is homeschooled, is the son of Will and Jaylene McIntosh of Las Cruces.