A number of new laws have been implemented since the beginning of 2020. As a resident of the state, it’s important to be aware of the changes so you understand how they could possibly affect you. So far this year, we have seen law changes that affect criminal records, medical bills, lodging, and the minimum wage. Let’s take a look at the specifics regarding those changes.
Changes to Criminal Records
A new section of the Criminal Records Expungement Act took effect at the beginning of 2020. Under the new law, the state expanded the range of criminal records that can be wiped from public view.
Previously, expungements were limited to false accusations and misdemeanors. Depending on the severity of the crime, the waiting period for removal could be two to ten years. Once expunged, criminal proceedings are treated as though they never happened. This is with the exception of inquiries about employment applications at financial institutions.
The goal of this change was to improve ex-convicts’ chances of finding jobs and turning their lives around after serving time for their crimes. While some severe felonies will be eligible for removal from public view, the new law does not hide past convictions for crimes against children, offenses that result in great bodily harm or death, sex offenses, embezzlement-related crimes, or citations for drunk driving.
Protecting Residents from Surprise Medical Bills
Legislation was introduced in January to protect consumers from getting hit with surprise, out-of-network medical bills. In 2017, there was a rise in consumer complaints regarding surprise medical bills. New Mexico’s Superintendent of Insurance collaborated with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at the University of New Mexico to conduct a study, which found that approximately 20% of privately insured respondents received medical bills as a result of out-of-network care.
To protect consumers, the new legislation does not hold patients responsible for emergency out-of-network care. Consumers are also protected from out-of-network providers who provide services at in-network facilities without the patient’s advance knowledge or consent.
In addition to the above changes, all health care facilities in the state are required by June 2020 to post information about patient rights and protections.
In an attempt to promote tourism and boost the economy in New Mexico, lawmakers are closing a tax loophole for homeowners who rent out rooms on a short-term basis through platforms like Airbnb and other third-party websites.
Previously, when visitors booked a room at a hotel, motel, or inn, there was a five percent lodgers tax included on the bill. If, however, visitors booked a vacation rental through a site like Airbnb, they were exempt from that local tax. Now, all travelers will have to pay the five percent tax, regardless of where they stay or where they booked the room.
Raising the Minimum Wage
Beginning in January, the minimum wage was raised for the first time in over a decade. The base pay is now $9 per hour. This was the first in a series of state minimum wage increases. Signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, the increase will top out at $12 in 2023. Previously, the state minimum wage was set at $7.50 per hour in 2009, $0.25 higher than the federal minimum wage.
According to lawmakers, the raise is gradual so as to give rural businesses time to adjust. Tipped workers also saw an increase in wages to $2.13 per hour. This will increase to $3 an hour by 2023. Employers are required to ensure workers receive full minimum wage after tips. A second-tier minimum wage is also being set for high school students 18 years or younger. That wage is $8.50 per hour, without any scheduled increases.
Learn More from Buckingham & Vega Law Firm
At Buckingham & Vega Law Firm, we understand that new laws can seem confusing or even overwhelming—especially if they have an impact on your day-to-day life. That’s why we’re here to help you understand the potential implications.
While the laws above may not have a direct impact on any ongoing or new personal injury claims, you never know what could apply to your unique situation. If you’re currently pursuing a claim with our firm or you’re looking to learn more about personal injury law and the possibility of filing a claim to seek compensation for your injuries and losses, we’re here for you. We’ll be with you every step of the way, so you understand the legal process and your rights. Contact us today for more information.