(Excerpted from the Disability Coalition Post-Legislative Report)
The 2016 Legislative Session ended on Thursday, February 18. Several disability related bills passed including:
HB 61 Accounts for Persons with Disabilities.Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton. Authorizes the establishment of tax-free savings accounts for persons with disabilities. It would allow individuals to accumulate savings of up to $100,000 while still remaining eligible for public benefits such as SSI (which currently has a resource limit of just $2,000), and use those savings for disability-related purposes such as home modifications, education, transportation and job training.
SB 21 “Brittany” Alerts. Sen. Jacob Candelaria. Modeled on existing “Amber” alerts for missing children and “Silver” alerts for missing elders, this bill authorizes the issuance of public alerts when a person with developmental disabilities goes missing in circumstances where there is concern for the person’s health or safety.
SB 36 DD Waiver Waiting List Report and Funding. Sen. Bill Soules. Requires the Department of Health to issue an annual report regarding the waiver program and the wait list, including projections of how much it would cost over the next five years to get the waiting time down to three years or less. An appropriation of $25 million to the Department of Health that was originally included in the bill was removed.
SB 113 Mandated Outpatient Treatment. Senator Mary Kay Papen. Authorizes involuntary, court-ordered outpatient mental health treatment for persons with a history of mental illness who are not currently dangerous to themselves or others but who are considered “likely” to cause harm to themselves or others at some time in the future if they go without treatment.
SM 25 Transition Planning for Youth with Disabilities. Sen. Michael Padilla. Calls on the DD Planning Council and the Center for Development and Disability at UNM to convene a task force to look at ways to improve the transition of youth with disabilities from school to work.
Now it’s up to the governor. Bills that passed the legislature are now under review by Governor Martinez. She can either sign them into law, veto them, or – in the case of the budget bill – veto specific appropriations or language and sign the rest of the bill into law. If she takes no action on a bill, it does not become law; this is called a “pocket veto”. Memorials and proposed constitutional amendments that passed are not subject to her review.
The governor has until March 9 to act on legislation. If you want to encourage her to sign or veto any bills that passed the legislature, you can reach the governor's office by phone at 505-476-2200 or send an email message through her website, governor.state.nm.us. Click on "Contact and Constituent Services" at the top of the page and then on "Contact the governor", and a form to fill out will come up on your screen to send your message to Gov. Martinez.