In New Mexico, there are two types of Legislative Sessions. Even numbered years are focused on passing a state budget for the coming fiscal year. Odd-numbered years like 2023 bring an extended legislative session full of proposals, bills and budgets. This year’s session was no exception.
This brief will focus on seven pieces of legislation that, if passed, would have directly affected insurance and employers.
- HB 455 – Workers’ Compensation Changes – This bill would increase attorneys’ fee cap from $22,500 to $32,500, increase advanced discovery costs from $3,000 to $10,000, and create exceptions to the Fee cap for (a) ‘good cause”; (b) Permanent total disability benefits; (c) if “the worker’s injuries are serious”; or (d) if there is “additional litigation or an appeal” after cap is reached. FINAL STATUS: DIED, but a memorial was passed to study the issue.
- SB 11 – Paid Family & Medical Leave – This bill was possibly the most debated issue during the Session. The bill provides for 12 weeks of job protection and paid leave for Defined Family and Medical Issues, regardless of employer size. It creates a new payroll tax on all employees and on employers above a certain size in order to fund the benefits. The bill did not include some of the protections for employers that have been adopted in other states. As introduced, it would have allowed injured workers under the Workers’ Compensation Act to also qualify for paid FMLA leave, collecting more than 100% of their pre-injury wages. FINAL STATUS: DIED
- HB 330 – Farm & Ranch Laborer Workers’ Compensation – This bill would delete exemption for Farm & Ranch Laborers from the Workers’ Compensation Act and align with the Supreme Court decision in Rodriguez v. Brand West Dairy. FINAL STATUS – DIED
- HB 329 – Workers’ Compensation Violations and Penalties – This bill would have increased general penalties for violation of the Workers’ Compensation Act from $1,000 per occurrence to $2,500. FINAL STATUS – DIED
- HB 427 – First Responder PTSD – New section in Occupational Disease Act creates presumption that PTSD among law enforcement and medical first responders is the result of their employment. FINAL STATUS – DIED
- SB 369 – Firefighter Workers’ Compensation Conditions – This bill would add additional conditions to Firefighters’ presumptive causation list, including prostate cancer, and remove age qualifier for breast cancer. FINAL STATUS – DIED
- HB 229 – Excluding Certain Adjusters from Bonding Provisions – The law previously required a $10,000 bond for all adjusters other than staff adjusters. This bill limits bonding requirements only to public adjusters. FINAL STATUS – PASSED AND SIGNED INTO LAW.
In summary, none of the bills that would affect Workers’ Compensation insurance carriers and/or self-insureds passed the full Legislature. Expect these issues to be raised again in 2025, if not sooner.
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