AARP New Mexico staff and volunteers will be walking the halls of State Capitol come January 17, focusing on several bills that will address such issues as financial security, support for family caregivers, guardianship reform and expanding broadband.
“AARP always watches a variety of issues throughout the legislative process, but we tend to prioritize a handful that have a far-reaching impact on people age 50 plus and their families,” said Othiamba Umi, AARP New Mexico Associate State Director for Advocacy.
“We have about 30 volunteers that work the Session each year, tracking bills, testifying on them and meeting with legislators to discuss why the legislation is important – or, in some cases, problematic. Our volunteers are often experts on the subject matter, so they know their stuff. Plus, they are the constituents that our legislators serve so their voice often has a lot more impact,” Umi said.
While AARP New Mexico will follow about 100 bills at the start of the session, a lot of its focus will be on six priority area as follows:
- Supporting the implementation of New Mexico’s Work and Save retirement program – AARP supports legislation that would increase the impact of the program by changing the program to autoenrollment with an employee option to opt-out. Switching from voluntary to auto-enrollment is vital to reduce costs and ensure the program’s long-term success and viability.
- Enacting paid family medical leave -- The Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFML) would allow up to 12 weeks of paid time off to care for a seriously ill family member or a worker’s own serious health condition. By passing a PFML program, we can keep workers who are caring for their loved ones on the job longer, preventing the loss of work and financial hardships; and help reduce the placement of older New Mexicans in high-cost nursing homes often paid for by taxpayers.
- Protecting elders from financial exploitation -- For nearly a decade, AARP has been on the forefront of guardianship reform advocacy and continues to fight to protect vulnerable older adults who rely on legal guardians and others to help them make vital decisions. We support new legislation that will increase less restrictive alternatives to guardianship through codifying supported decision-making in New Mexico.
- Creating a Prescription Drug Affordability Board -- AARP New Mexico supports a Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB) to evaluate drug prices and set limits on how much certain payers -- including employers, state and local governments and consumers -- pay for high-cost prescription medications.
- Opposing reinstatement of the tax on food -- At a time where so many New Mexicans are faced with the inflated costs of food, gas and other necessities, AARP New Mexico opposes legislation that would threaten to reimpose the food tax on groceries. Lawmakers should keep groceries tax free -- regardless if it is introduced as a stand-alone bill or part of a larger tax reform package.
- Expanding the availability of affordable, high-quality high-speed internet -- We urge policy makers to continue to invest in broadband across the state and prioritize older adults’ needs. The pandemic has exposed how New Mexicans without access to affordable high-speed internet are at a disadvantage in combatting isolation, scheduling vaccine appointments, accessing telehealth services, and much more. AARP’s research indicates that older Americans’ access to are at a disadvantage in combatting isolation, scheduling vaccine appointments, accessing telehealth services, and much more.
For regular updates throughout the Session, visit us here at www.aarp.org/nm or follow us on social at www.facebook.com/aarpnm or @AARPNM on Twitter.