It’s Time for New Mexico to Negotiate Lower Rx Drug Prices: Sen. Jeff Steinborn

It’s time for New Mexico to negotiate lower Rx drug prices

By Senator Jeff Steinborn

Last April, Governor Susana Martinez vetoed legislation that could have saved New Mexico millions of dollars a year in prescription drug costs for state agencies and its employees and retirees.  Senate Bill 354, which passed the Legislature with strong bi-partisan support, would have required all New Mexico state agencies who purchase pharmaceutical drugs, to work together to aggressively seek a better deal on drug prices.

Citizens pay a huge cost for high drug prices.  In fiscal year 2016 New Mexico state government spent over $670 million on prescription drugs, a staggering 54% increase in just two years.  Senate Bill 354 would have leveraged the purchasing power of all of our state agencies who purchase prescription drug benefits including the Departments of Health, Human Services, Corrections, Medicaid, General Services Department, UNM, and other agencies, to aggressively pursue lower drug prices. Even though the legislation passed the Senate unanimously and the House with broad bi-partisan support, it was vetoed by Governor Martinez without explanation.

Several weeks ago the National Academy for State Health Policy ( invited me to speak at their annual conference about my prescription drug purchasing reform legislation.  The Academy, a non-profit and non-partisan organization of state health professionals, had identified this bill as a key strategy that states could implement to better control the rising health care and prescription drug costs.

Aggressively negotiating lower prescription drug prices could save New Mexico’s state government millions every year.  It can be done.  The U.S. Department of Veterans of Affairs negotiates at least a 24 percent discount on the drugs it buys.  Many other industrialized countries pay a fraction of what U.S. citizens and governments pay for the same drugs.  Members of Congress have sought for decades to leverage the federal government’s purchasing power for Medicare, but have been fought tooth and nail by the pharmaceutical industry.

Other states are working to achieve savings and reform as well.  Recently citizen-led referendums in Ohio and California have fought to lower drug prices and California just passed legislation requiring the pharmaceutical industry to notify the state in advance of increases in drug prices.

At a time when budgets for classrooms and other key public services are being cut, and proposals are being pushed to force tens of thousands of public employees to pay more for their retirement and benefits, negotiating lower drug prices is just common sense.

The opponents of lower drug prices are formidable, however, and have many methods to stop progress.  The pharmaceutical industry, one of the most profitable in America, has spent millions of dollars fighting efforts in Congress and in Legislatures across America to get citizens a better deal on prices. In addition, the industry continues to make large contributions to politicians to maintain their foothold of opposition to reform.  The pharmaceutical industry was the tenth largest single contributor to the Republican Governors Association (RGA) in the most recent election cycle, according to

This coming legislative session it’s time for Governor Martinez to stand on the side of our citizens and use all the tools at our disposal to demand the very best deal possible on the purchase of prescription drugs.  Requiring our state government to maximize its nearly $700 million in pharmaceutical purchasing power to lower the cost of prescription drugs is not just good business, its common sense.

Jeff Steinborn is a Democratic State Senator who represents District 36 in Las Cruces.

It’s time for New Mexico to negotiate lower Rx drug prices



NM Legislature to address Nurse Licensure Compact in 2018 Session

NM Legislature to address Nurse Licensure Compact in 2018 Session

Joint Statement from Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, Speaker of the House Brian Egolf, and House Minority Leader Nate Gentry

For Immediate Release: November 3, 2017

Contact: Chris Nordstrum,  (505) 986-4819

(Santa Fe, NM) Today leaders from both the House and Senate announced that the 2018 Legislature will move swiftly to enact legislation adopting the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC).

New Mexico has been a member of the existing compact since 2004, but the agreement that allows qualified nurses to practice in other compact states has been updated, requiring that states pass legislation to adopt the new, or “enhanced,” compact in order to maintain reciprocity status with those who have entered into the new agreement. In order for New Mexico nurses to be grandfathered in to the eNLC, a bill will need to be introduced, passed and signed by the Governor by January 19th, three days into the session.

“It’s unfortunate that this issue was not brought to the Legislature prior to the looming deadline,” said Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth. “But the important thing is that we are going to address it swiftly and with broad bipartisan support, ensuring that New Mexico nurses as well as those from other states currently serving our communities will be able to continue practicing without interruption.”

“Adoption of the eNLC is an issue both parties recognize as being critical for our healthcare professionals in New Mexico, and we fully intend to address and pass it as soon as the session commences,” stated Stuart Ingle, Senate Minority Leader.

There has been some confusion regarding the timeline around the transition from the existing NLC to the eNLC, causing concern that New Mexico nurses could be left in a state of limbo sometime between now and the January 19th implementation date of the eNLC.

“Rest assured, the existing compact allowing New Mexico nurses to work in other compact states will remain in full effect until the new compact is officially implemented on January 19,” said Speaker of the House Brian Egolf. “And once the eNLC goes live, New Mexico will be among the states on board.”

“I look forward to working with the other members of the House and Senate leadership to quickly consider and pass the nursing compact,” said House Minority Leader Nate Gentry.

The enactment of the compact will allow registered nurses and licensed practical/vocational nurses to have one multistate license, with the ability to practice in person or via telehealth in both their home state and other eNLC states.

Attached is a letter from the director and legal counsel of the Nurse Licensure Compact explaining the current status of the existing NLC and providing detail on timing of the transition to the eNLC.

NLC_Letter to NM Legis_11217



Senator Jacob Candelaria (D-26 Bernalillo) to introduce legislation allowing public to provide online testimony to Legislative Committee meetings

Senator Jacob Candelaria (D-26 Bernalillo) to introduce legislation allowing public to provide online testimony to Legislative Committee meetings

For Immediate Release: October 25, 2017

Contact: Chris Nordstrum (505) 986-4819

(Santa Fe, NM) Today Senator Jacob Candelaria announced that he will introduce legislation that would allow the public to submit online testimony to Legislative Committee meetings.

“In a large state like New Mexico, distance should not stop people from participating in the legislative process. The time and cost of traveling to Santa Fe is an obstacle preventing many New Mexicans from taking part in the discussion of important issues. Everyone should have an opportunity to engage,” stated Senator Candelaria.

“Consider someone in a rural community in the far south of the state who might be directly impacted by a pending piece of legislation. Taking an entire day or two off and traveling hundreds of miles in order to testify might not even be possible,” Senator Candelaria continued.  “Providing remote access for people to submit testimony virtually would expand our ability to hear from and respond to every citizen, not just those with the time and ability to travel to committee meetings.”

“Technology is one cost-effective way we can bring the public and their elected officials together and ensure that everyone has a seat at the table,” concluded Senator Candelaria.




Statement of NM Sen. Jacob Candelaria Commemorating National Coming Out Day


Contact: Chris Nordstrum, NM Senate Democrats at 505-986-4819

Statement of NM Sen. Jacob Candelaria Commemorating National Coming Out Day

(Santa Fe, NM) – NM Senator Jacob Candelaria (D-26-Bernailillo) issued the following statement today:

“October 11 marks the 29th Anniversary of National Coming Out Day. I am proud to stand together with the LGBTQ community of New Mexico in support of every person’s right to be respected, protected, and free to celebrate their authentic self.

“Coming out as LGBTQ or as a straight ally for equality takes great courage and does not come without risk for many people in our state. But it is an important step in our fight for LGBTQ rights, for every time someone comes out, a new voice is heard and more of our family members and neighbors will be inspired to stand with us as we unite against bigotry and hate.

“In my role as a state senator I pledge to help lead the charge for LGBTQ rights. Two bills I introduced in our last session were measures intended to do just that: Senate Bill 121, now law, makes New Mexico the seventh state to ban the dangerous practice of conversion therapy on minors; SB120 would have made it easier for transgender individuals to change their sex designation on their birth certificate, though it was pocket vetoed by the Governor. Clearly the battle for equality is far from over, but it is my mission to fight discrimination and be a champion in building the safer, more hopeful future that every New Mexican deserves.”

For more information on National Coming Out Day or to find additional resources on this topic, visit



Senate Democrats Applaud Court Decision to Allow 10 Bills to Become Law Over Gov. Martinez’s Attempted Vetoes

Senate Democrats Applaud Court Decision to Allow 10 Bills to Become Law Over Gov. Martinez’s Attempted Vetoes 

(Santa Fe, NM) – Ten bills that Governor Susana Martinez attempted to veto earlier this year became law today after Santa Fe District Court Judge Sarah Singleton denied Gov. Martinez’s request to delay their implementation.  The Court held that the Governor’s request is not likely to succeed if it is appealed, and that the public interest is best served by allowing those bills to become law.  The First Judicial District Court’s decision in favor of the Legislature’s lawsuit to invalidate ten vetoes by Governor Susana Martinez during the 2017 Regular Session was cheered by sponsors of the ten contested bills.

“This is a win for every New Mexico kid and the future of our state’s economy. This legislation opens the door to computer science education for high schoolers across the state, giving them the tools to compete in a 21st century, new collar economy. I’m glad it is finally the law of the land,” said Senator Jacob Candelaria.  SB 134, sponsored by Sen. Jacob Candelaria and Rep. Debra M. Sariñana, will permit high school students to count computer science courses toward the math or science credits needed to graduate.

“Senate Bill 24 will give local communities the ability to determine their economic development and job creation destinies by treating high-speed broadband Internet services just like any other infrastructure.  Expanding access to high-speed broadband means more jobs in rural New Mexico where they are needed, better options for higher education, and critical telemedicine services,” said Senator Michael Padilla.  SB 24, sponsored by Sen. Michael Padilla and Rep. Jim Smith, will give local governments a new option to pay for expansion of broadband access.

“I am glad the court upheld our Constitution today, and I am glad for the farmers of New Mexico who are finally going to have a cash crop – it is long overdue.  The Governor’s reasons for vetoing SB 6 were always invalid.  I am very thankful on behalf of New Mexico’s rural communities that we will have an industrial hemp law that farmers can use for supplementing their income,” said Senator Cisco McSorley.  Senate Bill 6, sponsored by Sen. McSorley, will allow the state to license farmers to grow industrial hemp for research purposes.

“This bill will enable school districts to plan for broadband expansion and faster networks by eliminating the sunset clause that was put on the use of broadband through public school capital outlay. Without this bill, school districts would only have state funding for another two years, but can now benefit from long-term planning using federal and state funds,” said Senator Mimi Stewart.  SB 64, sponsored by Sen. Stewart, will allow the Public School Capital Outlay Council to continue budgeting up to $10 million of the public school capital outlay fund for education technology initiatives such as broadband.

“I am very pleased by Judge Singleton’s decision today.  The judge followed the Constitution, and it was the right thing to do.  Thanks to this decision, we will now have an important law to clean up the horse racing industry in our state.  Without these stricter rules and enforcement to end illegal practices, I fear that the racing industry will die, along with the many jobs in rural New Mexico that are supported by it.  A message also has been sent that vetoes need a message and a rationale,” said Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen.  SB 184, sponsored by Sen. Papen, will amend the Horse Racing Act to allow the revocation of licenses for up to five years if the licensee used electrical or mechanical devices for affecting the speed or stamina of a racehorse.

“My bill will help acequias and small water associations by cutting the red tape they currently face in trying to deliver an important resource to communities throughout the state,” said Senator Liz Stefanics.  SB 222 was sponsored by Sen. Stefanics.

“The people of New Mexico now will be better served because county treasurers will be notified when a public improvement district or tax incremental development district is proposed, since they are the elected officials that invest these public dollars,” said Senator Nancy Rodriguez.  SB 67, sponsored by Sen. Rodriguez, will require that the county treasurer be notified of the formation of any tax increment development district within that county.  SB 356, also sponsored by Sen. Rodriguez, will require that the county treasurer be notified of the formation of any public improvement district within that county.



Senate Democrats Respond to Court Decision Invalidating Gov.’s Vetoes

Statements from Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen & Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth on Court Decision Invalidating Vetoes of Gov. Susana Martinez
(Santa Fe, NM) – Following today’s decision by the First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe in favor of the Legislature in its lawsuit to invalidate ten vetoes by Governor Susana Martinez during the 2017 Regular Session, Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen and Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth issued the following statements:
Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen:
“We are very pleased that the voices of New Mexicans in the Roundhouse were restored.  We urge Governor Martinez to accept the Court’s decision and allow the people of New Mexico to move on.   With the enactment of these ten bills, our students will be better able to learn science and math for good careers in the future, small businesses will have a better opportunity to thrive, and we will strengthen our state’s economy.”
Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth:
“The Court’s decision today is a clear victory for our state Constitution, and for the principle that no branch of government is above the law.  By requiring the Governor to follow the process spelled out in the Constitution for vetoing legislation, the Legislature has a chance to correct the stated objection before the end of the session.  This is a win for the process and the people of New Mexico.”

Mimi Stewart – New Mexico’s Most Effective Legislator

OPINION EDITORIAL in the Santa Fe New Mexican

Mimi Stewart – New Mexico’s Most Effective Legislator

By Senate Pro Tem, Senator Mary Kay Papen – August 8, 2017

Sen. Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque recently was named New Mexico’s single most effective legislator — indeed, one of the most effective lawmakers in any state — by FiscalNote.

The national, nonpartisan organization knows what it is talking about, representing many of the most successful Fortune 500 corporations. Most recipients of the award were Republicans. It was given based on how successful a legislator is at sponsoring and steering legislation through each crucial step of the legislative process, all the way through enactment. This complex process requires strong bipartisan skills and often goes completely unnoticed by the general public. I can attest, however, that in all my years in the Roundhouse, no legislator has ever deserved this honor more nor worked harder to receive it than Mimi Stewart.

Sen. Stewart is the author of so much important legislation to improve the lives of New Mexicans, it is difficult to know where to begin. A champion for children and our public school classrooms, the environment, good government and women’s rights: All are part of her record of accomplishment in the House and the Senate. Her years of experience as an educator have been invaluable to legislative deliberations on state education policy and budget priorities. Now as vice chair of the Senate Education Committee, she fights to get teachers the additional skills and resources they need to teach children who need additional help. It is important work in a state with so much childhood poverty.

The FiscalNote award reflects the passion Sen. Stewart holds for a large range of political issues. She sponsored the original legislation that created the K-3 Plus summer learning program for thousands of children from low-income families. It provides kindergarten through third-grade students 25 extra instructional days. Recognized nationally, Stewart’s K-3 Plus narrows the achievement gap between at-risk students and other students, improves cognitive skills and produces higher test scores for all participants. Its enactment was a bipartisan milestone.

Legislation she authored in 2003 created our state’s three-tiered licensure model that implements a professional salary schedule for public school teachers. It helps New Mexico attract and retain dedicated, qualified teachers and has become a nationally recognized model. Without it, it is hard to see how our teachers would have received any salary increases in the last several lean budgets.

Year after year, and in the face of stiff executive headwinds, she has been a tireless advocate for extending the state’s consumer solar tax credit. That law alone has made it possible and affordable for many thousands of middle-class New Mexican families to install solar panels on their homes. It also created big savings on their electricity bills, delivered a nonpolluting source of energy, helped to lower air and water pollution overall in New Mexico, and improved the public health. Sen. Stewart was able to build overwhelming support for solar energy from both parties, even though she is an unapologetic Democrat.

Sen. Stewart is a special kind of legislator who has successfully enacted key laws to meet many of our state’s pressing challenges, including a statewide water conservation plan and gray-water system regulations. Over the years, she authored summer youth gang-intervention legislation, domestic violence interventions, prohibitions on insurance companies who discriminate against victims of domestic abuse, emergency contraception for rape victims and stronger homeowner rights — all of which became law. And the list goes on. She has been a bridge builder for positive change in New Mexico.

Some of our state’s most important legislation during the last almost 25 years came about thanks to Mimi Stewart, whether on education, renewable energy or health care. She has been successful because of her constructive and collaborative approach to government. A team player in the Senate, she has worked hard to pass bipartisan legislation for the good of New Mexico. This is the real Mimi Stewart. She sets the standard for effective lawmaking. We applaud her well-earned national recognition.

Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Doña Ana, is the president pro tem of the New Mexico Senate. She represents District 38.


Sen. Mimi Stewart Named Most Effective NM Senator

Congratulations to Senator Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque, who has been named one of the nation’s most effective legislators – and New Mexico’s most effective legislator – by the bipartisan FiscalNote organization, based in Washington, DC. this week.  The award is given based on how successful a legislator is at sponsoring and steering legislation through the legislative process, all the way through enactment.  Sen. Stewart has been a champion for New Mexico’s students and school throughout her career, and the award is well earned.  Read more:

Senate President Pro Tem Papen & Advocates Blast Governor’s Veto of Due Process Legislation to Protect Medicaid Patients


April 7, 2017

NM Senate President Pro Tem Papen & Advocates Blast Governor’s Veto of Due Process Legislation to Protect Medicaid Patients

(Santa Fe, NM) – The New Mexico Senate’s President Pro Tem, Mary Kay Papen, and other leading advocates for people struggling with behavioral health illnesses and challenges today condemned Governor Susana Martinez’s veto of bipartisan legislation to protect providers of behavioral health care who are falsely accused of fraud by the State.  The measure – subjected to a pocket veto – would have guaranteed that in the future, providers who stand accused of fraud will receive the opportunity to review allegations made against them, and the chance to respond in an administrative hearing and in district court. That opportunity did not exist by law in 2013 when 15 non-profits and firms were mostly put out of business by the Governor’s administration, only subsequently to be cleared of any wrongdoing by the Attorney General.

“I think all New Mexicans can agree that as citizens, we all have the right to due process if we are accused of wrongdoing,” said Senator Mary Kay Papen.  “New Mexico’s families and providers of services to vulnerable children and adults in need of critical mental health and substance abuse treatment are deeply disappointed today in the Governor’s veto of this important bill.  All this legislation sought to do was ensure transparency and independent analysis in these situations when it is needed.  What has happened during the last four years in behavioral health in New Mexico must never occur again.”

Patricia Romero, Chief Executive Officer of Easter Seals El Mirador, said: “We are extremely disappointed that the Governor vetoed this important legislation that would ensure due process for healthcare providers.  More than 30 percent of New Mexicans are now Medicaid eligible.  But healthcare professionals are reluctant to provide services based on the behavioral health experience. This presents a crisis in our ability to provide access to healthcare.  It is a sad day for New Mexico.”

SB 217 responded to the disruption in care which began in 2013 when the Governor’s administration leveled charges of overbilling and fraud against the long-standing treatment providers under Medicaid.  Even though the Attorney General’s Office subsequently cleared all of them of the allegations, there are still large gaps in accessible coverage across the state, and the State has never returned more than $11 million in payments owed to the providers from that time.



Sen. Soules’ Lottery Scholarship Gap Bill Passed by House


March 15, 2017

Sen. Soules’ Lottery Scholarship Gap Bill Passed by House,

Now Goes to Governor Martinez for Signature

(Santa Fe, NM) – Lottery Scholarship Grace Period legislation, SB 420, sponsored by Senator Bill Soules of Las Cruces, tonight was passed by the full New Mexico House of Representatives with strong bipartisan support. The bill allows students to take up to 16 months off before beginning college, and still qualify for the state Lottery Scholarship assistance.  The measure was the top priority for NMSU students.  It was passed earlier in the session by the Senate, and now goes to the Governor for signature.

“I am pleased that legislators passed this bill that is so important to the academic success of so many young people in our state.  Many students may not be ready mentally and academically to start college right after graduating high school, and we should not push them into school.  Implementing this gap provision will help many students reach their full potential, and go on to successful careers,” said Sen. Soules.

Current law requires that graduates must immediately enroll in college following high school graduation, or they lose the scholarship assistance permanently.  SB 420 would extend the period to 16 months to allow for a ‘gap year’ between high school graduation or completion of the GED and entering college.  It also extends the scholarship to students who enlist in the military and begin service within 4 months of graduation.