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2021 NEW MEXICO LEGISLATURE

Marijuana bill clears final House committee

Posted

Legislation to legalize marijuana passed the New Mexico House Taxation and Revenue Committee on an 8-4 vote Wednesday, Feb. 24, and now advances to a final vote on the House floor.

House Bill 12 establishes the framework for a commercialized marijuana industry in New Mexico. The bill would legalize sales to those age 21 and older and establish the Cannabis Control Division to handle regulation, licensing and fee collections. It would also oversee the existing medical marijuana program, as well as new cannabis education and training programs.

“The industry will operate under a strict set of laws and regulations, ensuring product safety, increasing consumer information, funding additional research and implementing detailed restrictions to keep these products out of the reach of our youth,” said cosponsor Rep. Andrea Romero, D-Santa Fe.

A similar bill passed the House in 2019 on a 36-34 vote, but it stalled in the Senate Finance Committee.

Paid sick leave

Legislation to require employers to provide paid sick leave to their workers cleared the House Judiciary Committee on a 7-4 vote Wednesday and has advanced to the House floor.

House Bill 20 would allow employees to accumulate paid sick leave for every hour worked. Business groups opposed the bill, saying it will be an additional expense at a time when many businesses are barely hanging on. But supporters said it was a public-health issue.

“HB 20 is not just about workers’ rights, it’s about public health, which is of greater importance now than ever,” said cosponsor Rep. Angelica Rubio, D-Las Cruces. “Many of our state’s working-class residents are in jobs where they handle food or interact closely with customers or patients. If they’re forced to go to work sick or exposed to COVID-19 because they can’t afford to lose a day’s pay, this pandemic will continue to cycle through New Mexico’s population.” 

Liquor licenses

Legislation to waive all fees for liquor licenses issued and renewed in 2021 passed the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee unanimously Wednesday and will now advance to the House floor.

Senate Bill 2 is intended to help bars and restaurants most harmed by government restrictions put in place during the pandemic. It passed the Senate 41-1 earlier this month.

“We know the bars and restaurants that hold these licenses are having a hard time,” said Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Santa Fe. “With SB 2, we aim to provide some relief and support for them.”

Walter Rubel can be reached at waltrubel@gmail.com.