The final couple of weeks of the state legislative session is when bills need to move really fast to have a decent chance to make it all the way through the process. Of course, there’s enough time that almost anythingcan happen. With less than 7 days left to go, there are a few pieces of animal protection legislation that have strong potential to reach the finish line, if things work in our favor.
Last week, the bill to make bestiality a crime, Senate Bill 215, cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee (5-0 vote) after the sponsors submitted a substitute bill that made some changes to the original to address some concerns raised about the bill. Our updated fact sheet outlines what the new version of SB 215 does. Afterward, the bill was quickly approved by the full Senate unanimously, by a 40-0 vote. Several additional cosponsors signed on, including two House cosponsors, Rep. Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe) and Rep. Andrea Reeb (R-Clovis). Now the bill waits for a House Judiciary Committee hearing before it can advance to the House floor—if you haven’t already, please reach out to your Representative to urge their yes vote on our action page here.
Senate Bill 271, which would establish in state law a process where all abused and abandoned equines in custody of the state can first be saved by registered equine rescues before having their lives put at risk by being sent to auction, has also passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support (31-3 vote). Then, just days ago, the bill passed the House Agriculture, Acequias & Water Resources Committee unanimously (8-0 vote) and now waits for a House floor vote (contact your Representative to urge their support here). If approved by the House, the bill will go to the Governor for her signature.
Unfortunately, Senate Bill 301—the bill to better protect and humanely manage New Mexico’s free-roaming horses—was tabled in the House Agriculture, Acequias & Water Resources Committee. Despite the resounding support for SB 301 in the Senate (passing by a 34-2 vote), this committee action means the bill will likely no longer move forward. This means that for at least another year, communities’ and landowners’ hands will be tied when faced with free-roaming horses whose numbers have outgrown the resources on the land and are unsafe. Horses in some areas may be subject to starvation, continue to be hit by vehicles, and face cruel treatment, rather than treated with fertility control measures or possibly relocated to a sanctuary or adoptive home.
It’s unclear why the majority (6-2 vote) voted to table SB 301, but for some committee members, it may be due to a desire to allow free-roaming horses to be removed in larger numbers and sent to slaughter as a solution, despite polls that show that the vast majority of New Mexicans oppose horse slaughter and strongly support only humane management approaches. Thank you to everyone who spoke up on this issue, and please know we are determined to continue advocating for these horses.
Other bills that are successfully nearing the end of the legislative process include:
- House Bill 184, which seeks to create a less politically volatile, more equitable Commission to maximize wildlife management decisions rooted in science and diverse input. It has reached its final legislative step, waiting for a vote by the full Senate before it can go to the Governor’s desk.
- Senate Bill 72, which creates a new fund for wildlife road crossing projects and appropriates money toward those projects. It, too, has reached its final legislative step, waiting for a vote by the full House of Representatives before it reaches the Governor.
- House Bill 384, which among other things would provide for expedited licensure for veterinarians, recently passed the House of Representatives unanimously (61-0). It still needs to progress through the Senate to become law, and awaits a hearing in the Senate Health & Public Affairs Committee (contact your Senator if they sit on this committee).
And while it is unlikely to make it through the legislative process, we would be remiss to not mention that Senate Bill 429 passed its first committee hearing by a 5-1 vote. This bill would restrict dog tethering in New Mexico statewide. It was incredibly moving to hear animal control officers attend the hearing to testify in support of the bill, sharing stories of the disturbing levels of neglect they have witnessed as New Mexico’s canine companions suffer at the end of a chain.
Please remember to click the links to take action on the bills mentioned above. And visit our Legislative Session Tracker, which is updated with all the bills related to animal welfare in 2023.
Thank you for your continued advocacy and support in these final days of the 2023 legislative session. Persistence pays. We are hoping to have some happy news to share with you when the session ends next Saturday at noon.