Multiple pro-animal bills passed their first hurdle—but there’s a long way still to go and only 16 days left.
The second full week of the 2024 state legislative session is finishing up, and we are heartened that several key bills for animals have made initial progress.
Resources to Enhance Animal Welfare and Protect Communities
House Bill 191—sponsored by Representative Tara Lujan (D-Santa Fe), Representative Joseph Sanchez (D-Alcalde), and Representative Cynthia Borrego (D-Albuquerque)—establishes within the state treasury a $10 Million dollar Animal Welfare Trust Fund, from which earnings from investments would be distributed annually to an Animal Welfare Grant Fund for projects benefitting domestic cats, dogs, and equines. This bill will help provide desperately needed community resources for animal shelter infrastructure, equipment, training, supplies, housing, food, veterinary care, educational materials, and shelter operational support.
New Mexicans throughout the state care deeply about the humane treatment of animals, and yet many communities lack the resources to provide the level of care people want and expect for dogs, cats, and equines. Because companion animals are so important in the lives of New Mexicans, the well-being of animals is inextricably linked to the well-being of people. On January 27, the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee passed HB 191 by a 4 to 0 vote, and the bill’s next stop is the House Appropriations & Finance Committee.
Protection Orders for Survivors of Violence and Abuse
Senate Bill 12—sponsored by Senator Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (D-Albuquerque), and co-sponsored by Representative Pamelya Herndon (D-Albuquerque) and Senator Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque)—would rename the Family Violence Protection Act to become the “Protection Against Abuse and Violence Act” and make other changes to provide clarity and strength to definitions and other provisions. SB 12 includes measures that have been called “Misty’s Law,” which would recognize animal abuse with the intent to harm or intimidate someone as a type of domestic abuse, as well as explicitly allow a judge to add companion animals to the protective order issued.
Misty’s Law is an important step to help survivors of abuse find safety, for themselves and for their animals. On January 22, Senate Bill 12 passed the Senate Health & Public Affairs Committee by a 5 to 4 vote, and it next goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
A Better State Wildlife Agency
House Bill 178—sponsored by Representative Matthew McQueen (D-Galisteo)—is the reintroduction of last year’s House Bill 184 to change the appointment process and membership qualifications of the State Game Commission, the Governor-appointed body that creates regulations regarding wildlife management. Last year’s bill passed the Legislature but was pocket-vetoed by the Governor.
HB 178 seeks to create a less politically volatile, more equitable Commission in order to better ensure wildlife management decisions rooted in science and diverse input. On January 27, the House Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Committee made three amendments to add additional provisions to HB 178 to create a comprehensive wildlife agency reform package: creating a nominating commission to select qualified Game Commission candidates for appointment by the Governor; updating the Department of Game & Fish’s name, mission, and scope of authority; and increasing certain hunting and fishing fees to increase Department revenue. The Committee then voted to pass the bill by a 6 to 5 vote. The bill will next go to the House Judiciary Committee.
While policy bills like these are being considered, legislators are also working on the state budget and various other funding measures. In the coming days, we hope more of these funding details will come to light so we can share them with you.
Thank you all for your continued support and engagement through the challenges of the legislative session, and stay tuned for further updates.