Lawmakers revive tenant protections bill

By: - March 13, 2023 4:08 am

(Getty Images)

A proposal to strengthen protections for tenants facing eviction in New Mexico was resurrected on Saturday.

House Bill 6 would give tenants more time to catch up on rent before being evicted, along with the opportunity to avoid getting kicked out if they can pay what is owed.

The legislation had died on Friday because of a tied vote in the House Judiciary Committee, however, on Saturday morning one of its sponsors asked them to reconsider.

House Speaker Javier Martinez (D-Albuquerque) had been present for the meeting on Friday, but was not in the room at the moment of the vote.

“Being that it was a tie vote, we’d really like to have an actual vote on the matter,” said Rep. Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe).

Rep. Greg Nibert (R-Roswell) and Minority Floor Leader Rep. Ryan Lane (R-Aztec) questioned whether Romero’s motion was proper but committee chair Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos) overruled them, so they voted 6-4 to reconsider the bill.

Nibert initially refused to vote on the motion.

Chandler told him, “at a certain point, once the chair rules, it’s a motion that can be made.”

“I’m sorry, representative, that you don’t agree, but if you’re present in the room, you need to vote,” Chandler said.

Nibert begrudgingly voted no, and the committee voted 6-4 to pass the bill.

To become law, the bill would still need to be voted on in the House of Representatives, at least two Senate committees, and the full Senate; and get the OK by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The 60-day legislative session ends at noon on March 18.

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Austin Fisher
Austin Fisher

Austin Fisher is a journalist based in Santa Fe. He has worked for newspapers in New Mexico and his home state of Kansas, including the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Garden City Telegram, the Rio Grande SUN and the Santa Fe Reporter. Since starting a full-time career in reporting in 2015, he’s aimed to use journalism to lift up voices that typically go unheard in public debates around economic inequality, policing and environmental racism.