Round Up From The Roundhouse, information provided to FGGAM by the New Mexico House Republican Caucus:
House Passes Bill to Preserve Access for NM Residents to Out-of-State Medical Care
Santa Fe, NM – The House of Representatives passed legislation to preserve access to out-of-state medical care for New Mexicans on a vote of 34 to 27. The bill, House Bill 270, is sponsored by Rep. Terry McMillan.
“The uncertainty in New Mexico’s law is jeopardizing medical care for thousands of New Mexicans who rely on out-of-state providers for treatment and services,” McMillan said. “We need this legislation to make the rules clear for out-of-state providers and to ensure that New Mexicans will continue to have access to critical medical care, especially for high-risk procedures.”
The bill would clarify New Mexico law regarding complaints filed against out-of-state medical providers. A recent court case has caused confusion among out-of-state medical providers over their legal exposure when providing treatment to New Mexico patients. Currently, it’s not clear whether New Mexico tort law applies to malpractice claims arising from medical treatment received out-of-state. As a result, out-of-state medical providers may be reluctant to treat New Mexico patients because of concerns over increased legal liability.
McMillan’s proposal would make it explicit in New Mexico law that if a resident of New Mexico obtains medical care from a provider located out-of-state, the laws of the state where care was rendered would govern any civil action against the medical provider.
32 of New Mexico’s 33 counties are located, either all or in part, in health care provider shortage areas. According to data provided by the New Mexico and Texas Departments of Health, 13 counties in the southern and eastern parts of New Mexico send 22 percent of their hospitalized patients to Texas for care.
House Approves Bipartisan Proposal to Establish an Independent Ethics Commission
Santa Fe, NM – The House of Representatives approved a proposed constitutional amendment to establish an independent state ethics commission. House Joint Resolution 5, sponsored by Rep. Jim Dines and co-sponsored by Rep. Jeff Steinborn, passed on a vote of 50 to 10 this evening. Passage of this resolution would give New Mexico voters the option to adopt this commission in the next election.
“New Mexico needs an ethics commission that is independent and transparent,” Dines said. “I appreciate the input and guidance provided by my colleagues to help me refine this resolution. I hope the Senate will also pass this resolution and put the question before the voters of New Mexico for their approval.”
The independent ethics commission proposed by Dines would be made up of nine members – Republicans, Democrats and an Independent. All hearings and findings of this commission would be open to the public.
The proposed commission would review complaints made against public officials, employees, government contractors and lobbyists. It would also have the authority to initiate inquiries and issue subpoenas. Importantly, it would be able to review rules governing ethical conduct and provide guidance to public officials through the issuance of advisory opinions.
The proposed commission would oversee the legislative and executive branches of state government. The judicial branch of state government has its own Judicial Standards Commission, and it is not included in the legislation.
House Approves Bill to Fix Prevailing Wage Standards
Bill would make more funding available for school and road construction
Santa Fe, NM – The House of Representatives passed a bill to exempt public school and road projects from current prevailing wage requirements. The bill, House Bill 200, is sponsored by Rep. Nora Espinosa and passed by a 35 to 32 vote.
“This bill will make more money available in the budget for actual construction costs,” Espinosa said. “It will allow the state and school districts to build more classrooms and miles of highway.”
Last June, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruling ordered the State to set prevailing wage and fringe-benefit rates based solely on collective bargaining agreements rather than including wage surveys or other information. The decision caused labor costs for all public construction projects to increase significantly.
Espinosa’s bill directs the Labor Relations Division of the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions to conduct a field survey and collect other information and set prevailing and fringe benefit rates based on that review. The bill would also cap prevailing wage and fringe benefit rates Federal Davis-Bacon Act rates. Finally, it would exempt all projects and contracts for public roads, public highways and educational facilities from the Public Works Minimum Wage Act.
“Exempting school construction projects from the directive issued by the New Mexico Supreme Court is the right thing to do for New Mexico’s students,” said Espinosa. “I hope the Senate will act on this important piece of legislation.”