New Mexico state laws underwent several significant changes over the past year as we saw legislation signed by the Governor in 2021 make its mark in our state. This included the provision of health-related benefits and services to patients regardless of immigration status, medical aid in dying options for terminally ill patients, the creation of a Bilingual Multicultural Education Advisory Council, regulations for autonomous vehicles, and a law allowing student-athletes to earn compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness.
In this article, we have compiled information about a few of the new laws that will be enacted in the coming months. We hope that this information will be relevant to many of the clients we serve in New Mexico. Please reach out to the Buckingham & Vega Law Firm with any further questions about the content of this article. We are always available to answer questions about legal matters important to you and your family members.
Paid Sick Leave Laws
New Mexico’s Healthy Workplaces Act (HWA) enacted by the signing of House Bill 20 requires all NM employers (with at least one employee) to provide paid sick leave to employees. This law will go into effect July 1, 2022. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the bill into law in April of 2021, recognizing that the necessity of paid sick leave has been increased by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of next July, employers will be required to allow employees to accrue one hour (or more) of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. While one hour per 30 hours worked is the legal minimum, employers may choose to provide more paid sick leave for their employees than the minimum defined by the law.
Law Changes for New Mexico Notaries
Several new changes for current and future New Mexico Notaries put into effect by the signing of NM Senate Bill 12 will become active on January 1, 2022. New Mexico Senate Bill 12 enacts the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA). Under this new law, Notaries in our state will be authorized to perform remote online notarizations for the first time.
The bill contains several other major changes that impact the work of current New Mexico Notaries, as well as the procedures for individuals taking steps to become a Notary in our state. These include:
- Changes to the qualifications for becoming a Notary
- A training course that all new applicants must pass to become a Notary
- Requirements regarding the electronic or paper journal that must be kept by Notaries
- Specifications for the official stamp that must be used by Notaries
- Regulations about a new form of copy certification Notaries are authorized to perform
- Rules for remote online notarization
Those seeking more information about becoming a Notary, renewing a Notary commission, searching for a Notary, or Notary forms, handbooks, or public law in the state of New Mexico can contact the Notary and Apostille Division of the Secretary of State’s office.
Marijuana Legalization and Public Financing for Cannabis Businesses
The Cannabis Regulation Act signed into law in 2021 legalized adult-use cannabis sales in New Mexico and made several provisions of the law effective as of June 2021. In June, adults in New Mexico were allowed to legally possess up to two ounces of cannabis, 16 grams of cannabis extract, and 800 milligrams of edible cannabis outside their private residences. Home-grown cannabis was also made legal. Individuals in NM can now grow up to six cannabis plants (per person) at home, with a limit of 12 plants per household.
Additionally, legislation to regulate and support the sale of cannabis through small business enterprises has been signed. On April 1, 2022, recreational cannabis sales will begin in New Mexico. The state government has agreed to provide business loans of up to $250,000 to eligible cannabis-related small businesses (those licensed to cultivate and sell marijuana from up to 200 plants). The New Mexico Finance Authority (NMFA) has authorized a $5 million line of credit for cannabis business loans. Cannabis entrepreneurs who are eligible for the new business loan may extend the loan for up to five years, with interest rates ranging from 2% to 3%. It is expected that the application process for applying for cannabis business loans will open in February 2022.
Proposed New Mexico Green Amendment
The New Mexico Green Amendment was proposed during the 2021 legislative sessions. Although it has not yet been signed into law, its supporters are hopeful that the proposal—which now has 23 co-sponsors and is supported by over 40 organizations—will be enacted during the 2022 legislative sessions. The New Mexico Green Amendment aims to establish climate stability and a protected environment as state rights as defined by the New Mexico Constitution. This would prevent future governors from undoing the environmental regulations and protective measures that have already been enacted.
The proposal’s amendment to the New Mexico state Constitution includes a newly added section in Article 2 reading: “The people of the state have the natural, inherent and inalienable right to a clean and healthy environment, including water, air, soil, flora, fauna, ecosystems and climate, and to the protection of the natural, cultural, scenic and healthful qualities of the environment.” The proposal’s supporters include Indigenous, faith-based, community, and bipartisan organizations.
New Mexico Minimum Wage Requirements 2022
Although the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions enforces state and federal minimum wage rates in NM, our state is unique in that it also allows certain cities and counties to apply and enforce their own minimum wage rates. The highest available wage rate is the one that will be applied for workers in a particular area. The following pay rates are scheduled to be applied at state and local levels in the upcoming years.
New Mexico State Minimum Wage Increases
- $11.50 per hour; $2.80 per hour for tipped employees (effective January 1, 2022)
- $12.00 per hour; $3.00 per hour for tipped employees (effective January 1, 2023)
Albuquerque Minimum Wage Increases
- $11.50 per hour; $6.90 per hour for tipped employees (effective January 1, 2022)
- $10.50 (if the employer provides healthcare and/or childcare benefits and pays an amount for these benefits equal to or above $2,500.00 annually— effective January 1, 2022)
Las Cruces Minimum Wage Increases
- $11.50 per hour; $4.60 per hour for tipped employees (effective January 1, 2022)
Santa Fe County Minimum Wage Increases
- $12.32 per hour; $3.69 per hour for tipped employees (active March 1, 2021)
Santa Fe City Minimum Wage Increases
- $12.32 per hour (active March 1, 2021)
- Workers who “customarily receive” more than $100 per month in tips must still receive the minimum hourly wage. If they aren’t earning enough in tips the employer must pay to make up the difference.
As in years past, all businesses in the state of New Mexico are required by both state and federal law to visibly post information concerning wage rates. This information must be displayed at the workplace in a conspicuous location so employees are aware of their legal rights.
Stay Informed of Your Legal Rights in New Mexico
Our team at Buckingham & Vega Law Firm believes that every citizen of our state should be informed of—and thoroughly understand—the laws that affect our everyday lives. As personal injury lawyers in New Mexico, we help support, inform, educate, and advocate for the community around us when it comes to important legal issues. Our state laws define our duties and rights as citizens of New Mexico, and we use our position as legal representatives to defend fair and equal freedoms for everyone under the law.
Our team of attorneys makes working toward better safety and improved quality of life an active part of our legal practice. Please feel welcome to communicate with our office if you have any questions about how New Mexico state laws apply to you and your family. An English-speaking or Spanish-speaking attorney is available for a free consultation to discuss your legal questions.