Legislature’s health panel picks top three topics for the rest of 2023

By: - June 13, 2023 5:05 am

Lawmakers set their priorities for health policy at the New Mexico state capitol on June 12, 2023. (Photo by Austin Fisher / Source NM)

The panel in charge of health issues at the New Mexico Legislature set its agenda for the rest of 2023, with an emphasis on child abuse and neglect, substance use disorder, and the health care workforce.

At its first meeting between legislative sessions on Monday, the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee sorted through input from lawmakers and the public about what topics it should consider.

After five hours, committee chair Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino and vice chair Rep. Liz Thomson, both Albuquerque democrats, landed on three priority policy areas they will reserve for two-day meetings scheduled to happen between July, August and September.

The top three priorities of the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee

  1. The Children Youth and Families Department, and the abuse and neglect of foster children
  2. Behavioral health, substance use disorder and homelessness
  3. The healthcare workforce

There were numerous other health policy topics the lawmakers plan to discuss this year which could come up in the remaining 18 days of meetings scheduled for October, November and December.

In all, the committee is expected to meet for 24 days during the rest of 2023, Ortiz y Pino said.

“That sounds like a lot, but we also have, by my count, requests for 6,719 different topics to consider from the different advocacy groups, from legislators, from constituents, from any and everybody, because this committee’s purview is so broad,” Ortiz y Pino said.

Whatever the committee does, Ortiz y Pino said, their recommendations will have to be signed off on by other parts of the state government.

“We’re not solving these problems ourselves; we’re making a major contribution to a solution,” he said. “I think we can do that, but it would involve some real give and take among ourselves, and willingness to put ourselves out, and to say what we really think, and then be willing to accept one another’s criticisms of it or disagreement with it.”

Tentative meeting dates (locations to be announced)

  • July 10 through 12
  • Aug. 7 through 9
  • Aug. 28 through 30
  • Sept. 18 through 20
  • Oct. 16 through 18
  • Nov 28. through Dec. 1

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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.