A look at pre-filed bills: Southern New Mexico lawmaker’s proposal would phase out private prisons

By WALTER RUBEL/ Southern New Mexico Journalism Collaborative

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — New Mexico, which now leads the nation in the use of private prisons, would be required to wind down that practice under a bill prefiled ahead of this year’s legislative session by Rep. Angelica Rubio, D-Las Cruces.

House Bill 40, called the Private Detention Facility Moratorium Act, would prohibit the state from entering into any new contracts or agreements for the operation of private detention facilities.

It would also allow for the termination of existing contracts if the inspection report by the Department of Corrections finds that the facility is out of compliance.

It would prohibit the use of public funds for private prisons in the future, and make the operation of a private detention facility illegal. The bill would not impact private facilities used for educational, vocational or medical services.

Rubio introduced a similar bill in 2019. It cleared its first committee but did not make it out of the Judiciary Committee.

A national report in 2019 by The Sentencing Project found that New Mexico was more reliant on private prison facilities than any other state in the nation. More than half of those being detained in our state (53 percent) were being held in private prisons. The national average is 8 percent.

A 2016 report by then-State Rep. Bill McCamley titled “Private Prisons & New Mexico: Why We Shouldn’t Do This Anymore” found that private prisons had more lockdowns, guilty findings for inmate discipline and grievances filed by inmates. Guards were paid less, received less training and had higher turnover. Private prisons incentivize arrests, as empty cells cost money. And they don’t save money in the long run, the report said.

The bill is one of several that have been prefiled ahead of this year’s 60-day session, which started yesterday, Tuesday, Jan. 19, in Santa Fe. Attendance this year will be restricted because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but all floor sessions and committee meetings will be livestreamed and then archived on the Legislature’s website.

Here is a list of the bills prefiled by legislators from southern New Mexico:


District 32 Candie Sweetser

No pre-filed legislation.

District 33 Micaela Lara Cadena

No pre-filed legislation.

District 34 Ray Lara

HB 22: Would allow more students to qualify for scholarships under the Grow Your Own Teachers Act.

HB 93: Would limit the use of out-of-school suspensions or expulsion for discipline students.

HB 100: Would appropriate $3 million for college and career readiness systems.

HB 101: Would allow table games and sports betting at horse racing tracks to provide revenue for the Lottery Scholarship and other purposes.

District 35 Angelica Rubio

HB 37: Would require all employers to offer paid sick leave for their workers based on the amount of hours worked.

HB 40: Would prevent the state or any county from renewing or entering into any new contract with a private prison.

HB 111: Would prohibit certain discriminatory acts in the sale, rental, assignment, lease or sublease of property.

District 36 Nathan Small

HB 105: Would change the method for determining annual in-lieu tax payment for electric generation or transmission facilities.

District 37 Joanne Ferrary

HB 94: Would form a new task force to study supported decision making as an alternative to guardianship.

HB 97: Would allow for local laws restricting the sale of tobacco products.

Cosponsor with Sen. Bill Soules of joint resolution on environmental rights.

District 38 Rebecca Dow

HB 33: Would make technical changes to existing law authorizing the New Mexico Livestock Board to conduct meat inspections.

Cosponsor of HB 49

District 39 Luis Terrazas

New members are unable to pre-file bills in the House.

District 49 Rep. Gail Armstrong

Cosponsor of HB 33, HB 49

District 52 Doreen Gallegos

HB 23: Would establish new requirements for issuing or renewing licenses to operate a medical school.

HB 92: Would establish a new fund to test the safety of drinking water and provide reports.

District 53 Willie Madrid

No prefiled legislation.

District 54 James Townsend

No prefiled legislation.

District 55 Cathrynn Brown

HB 49: Would exempt Social Security payments from state income tax.

District 56 Zach Cook

No pre-filed legislation.

District 57 Jason Harper

No pre-filed legislation.

District 59 Greg Nibert

HB 66: Would make changes to the code regulating secured transactions

District 66 Phelps Anderson

HB 103: Would add categories of certification services to the Utility Operators Certification Act.

Cosponsor of HB 101


Numbers have not been assigned yet to pre-filed Senate bills

District 27 Stuart Ingle

No pre-filed legislation.

District 28 Siah Correa Hemphill

* Would provide an enrollment preference for charter school students whose parents are employees of the school.

* Would enact the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact.

* Would request a task force to promote the use of outdoor classrooms in New Mexico schools.

District 31 Joseph Cervantes

No pre-filed legislation.

District 32 Cliff Pirtle

* Would provide tax credits, a process for protests and a new fund to assist small businesses harmed by the pandemic.

* Would allow the state to remaIn on Daylight Saving Time for all 12 months, when authorized by federal law.

* Would provide a temporary waiver of penalties and interest on certain taxes while the public health order is in effect.

* Would require a notice to parents or guardians when a child does not arrive at school or daycare.

* Would exempt some food sales from licensing, regulation and inspection; exempt meat from the GRT; and establish a state meat inspection program.

* Would allow municipal boards to adopt an ordinance or resolution with a majority vote of the members present.

* A constitutional amendment in which laws enacted by the Legislature could be repealed by a resolution of three-fourths of the counties.

District 33 William Burt

No pre-filed legislation.

District 34 Ron Griggs

* Would amend the Local Economic Development Act to include businesses in unincorporated areas of a county.

District 35 Crystal Diamond

* Would create a special hospital district for Sierra County.

District 36 Jeff Steinborn

* Would remove the minimum wage exemption for secondary school students.

* Would authorize local choice of energy providers.

* Would make the state Radioactive Waste Consultation Task Force responsible for private disposal facilities.

* A constitutional amendment to create nominating committees for university boards of regents selections.

District 37 Bill Soules

* Would require the Cultural Affairs Department to provide social, racial and cultural impact statements for pending legislation.

* Would increase the required surety bonds for driver education schools.

* Would change the formula for core administrative functions in the Public Schools Capital Outlay Act.

* Would fully fund the demolition of abandoned school district buildings.

* Would require photovoltaic systems in new public schools.

* Would allow the state to provide matching funds for photovoltaic systems.

* Would create a new closing fund for research grants.

* Would make an appropriation to the NMSU Board of Regents for the Anna Age Eight Institute.

* Would require new and replacement energy generation facilities to generate clean energy.

* Would enact the Ratepayer Relief Act to govern the abandonment of energy generation facilities.

* Would require new residential construction to include wiring photovoltaic systems and charging for electric vehicles.

* Would allow local elections to create districts that would permit alcohol sales at restaurants.

* Would require all new home construction to include photovoltaic systems and receptacle for charging electric vehicles.

* Would allow for the sale of unleaded fuel at airports.

* Would require the state to increase its electric vehicles to 75 percent of its fleet.

* A constitutional amendment to make environmental protection a fundamental right.

District 38 Carrie Hamblen

No pre-filed legislation.

District 41 David Gallegos

No pre-filed legislation.

District 42 Gay Kernan

* Would enable the use of a Design and Build system for certain Department of Transportation projects.

* Would create a new pilot program to establish a seamless transition from community college to state universities.

Walter Rubel can be reached at waltrubel@gmail.com.



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Diana Alba-Soular

Diana Alba-Soular


Southern NM Project Coordinator for the New Mexico Local News Fund | Freelance Writer & Journalist | Chile Lover | Dog Mom