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‘The greatest honor of my life’

Senator Katy Duhigg


In Albuquerque, first-term state Sen. Katy Duhigg, a Democrat elected in 2020, has been preparing for a “short session” sure to be packed with proposals going beyond budgetary matters and likely to spark difficult and even contentious debate.

While 30-day sessions, occurring in even-numbered years, are meant to focus on the budget, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham may add items to the agenda through a governor’s message, and constitutional amendments and memorials may also be brought up for consideration.

Besides the governor’s promised call for gun safety legislation, Duhigg expected revisions to the state’s Cannabis Regulation Act — the 2021 law that legalized cannabis for adult use and called for a system of regulations and licensing for the industry — would also come before lawmakers. Duhigg was already preparing for that, “now that we’ve had some time to see what’s working and what needs to be adjusted.”

“There’s a number of cleanups that need to happen but one of those things is coming up with a mechanism to appropriately limit licensure,” she said. “We’re the only state that legalized recreational cannabis that did not do that, and now we’re seeing why everyone else did.”

The explosion of dispensaries and applications for producers’ licenses have led to criticism that the market is saturated, leading to potential closures and temptation for some operators to cheat the system, perhaps through illegal sales.

Duhigg also predicted bills dealing with public safety would be brought to committees and, perhaps, to the floor. She herself plans to propose constitutional amendments establishing salaries for New Mexico’s legislature, as lawmakers currently are part-time and volunteer. Duhigg’s proposal includes an independent commission to establish lawmakers’ salaries in order to avoid self-dealing.

The other amendment she plans to introduce would change the chairmanship of the Judicial Nominating Commission from the dean of the University of New Mexico School of Law to the Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court.  

“This is at the request of the judiciary,” she said. “And it makes sense. When you’re picking the folks who are going to be making decisions about who will be a judge, having someone who is an active judge be the person who is overseeing that makes a lot more sense.”

Regarding the state’s enormous revenue position, coming primarily from oil and gas production, Duhigg noted that as New Mexico approaches its zero-carbon goals, it is time to get serious about diversifying the revenue on which the state depends for its budget.

“Our oil and gas revenue is going to go down dramatically within the next decade,” she said. “In my opinion, we should be using these funds to create self-sustaining mechanisms that are going to create new revenue sources going forward, like we did with the Early Childhood Fund.”

Another important investment, in her view, is Career Technical Education programs she said “is the answer to many of the problems facing New Mexico, from workforce development to keeping kids in school to addressing addiction.”

Going into the new session, Duhigg said she “absolutely” plans to run for a second term in 2024.

“Other than being a mom to my son, this is the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done, and the greatest honor of my life. I’ll be there as long as the voters choose to keep me.”

Senator Katy Duhigg, NM legislative