AARP New Mexico Helps Pass NM Work and Save Act

Posted on 03/20/20

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Thanks in part to the efforts of AARP New Mexico volunteers and staff, New Mexico workers will soon have a way to save for retirement through their work – even if their employer doesn’t currently offer a retirement savings plan.

“AARP New Mexico had a very successful Legislative Session with several of our priority bills making it to the Governor’s desk and being signed into law,” said DeAnza Valencia, AARP New Mexico Associate State Director for Advocacy.

“A lot of this success is a testament to our volunteers who worked at the Session days on end and often into the night, testifying before committees and visiting with Legislators on the benefits of the bills being proposed,” Valencia said.

“Of course, the New Mexico Work and Save Act was our top priority but that didn’t limit us from working on other bills that benefited New Mexico’s 50-plus population,” she said.

Currently 336,000 New Mexico employees in the private sector don’t have a way to save for retirement through their work. AARP research shows that employees are three times more likely to save if they can do so through their employer and 15 times more likely to save for retirement when they are able to have the savings automatically deducted from their paychecks. With this new law, many New Mexicans will now have that option.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the New Mexico Work and Save Act into law Feb. 26. The law allows employers to voluntarily access two types of retirement savings options. The first is a state-managed retirement savings program where all employers have to do is pass the information on to their employees and set-up a payroll deduction. For other employers, who want to provide their own plan, but haven’t been able to, they can access a new online marketplace where they can easily find and compare plans to select one that fits their needs. Employees can then start saving automatically out of their paycheck, and the savings will move with them from job to job.

The New Mexico Work and Save Act will be administered through State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg’s office and the new plans established by July of 2021.

Other priority bills that AARP New Mexico supported included:

Passed:

The Kiki Saavedra Senior Dignity Fund, House Bill 225, – was signed into law Wednesday, March 4, by Gov. Lujan Grisham, providing $7.3 million for senior services. Although legislators did not fund the bill for the full $25 million the Governor requested, she is optimistic this is the start to provide seniors with the critical services they need. Rep. Deborah Armstrong and Rep. Susan Herrera sponsored the bill.

Senate Bill 1, the Wholesale Prescription Drug Importation Act, sponsored by Sen. Mary Kay Papen., was signed into law March 4. The Act establishes a program to import prescription drugs from Canada to provide cost savings to New Mexicans and to regulate that importation.

House Bill 292, Prescription Drug Cost Sharing, was also signed into law March 4. The new law, sponsored by Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto and Rep. Micaela Cadena, caps the cost of insulin co-pays at $25.

Not passed:
House Bill 45, Increase Retiree Health Care Fund Contributions, sponsored by Rep. Tomás Salazar – increases rates of employee and employer contributions to the Retiree Health Care Fund and transfers $12,384,296, from the state’s general fund to the fund. The bill passed both houses but the Governor vetoed the bill. She indicated it contain unfunded mandates.

House Bill 16, Paid Family and Medical Leave Act, sponsored by Rep. Christine Chandler – would pay an employee part of their regular salary while taking time off to bond with a new child or care for a family member. This bill was never heard in committee.

House Memorial 10, Study on Financial Abuse of Seniors and Adults with Disabilities, sponsored by Rep. Deborah Armstrong – asks the Senior Citizens Law Office to convene a task force to study and make recommendations to prevent the financial abuse of senior citizens and adults with disabilities. The House never heard the memorial.

Social Security Tax – Several bill were introduced this Session to either cap the tax on Social Security benefits or eliminate it all together. These bills were tabled early in the Session or were not heard, with leadership indicting they would consider eliminating the tax in the 2021 60-day Session as part of a comprehensive revamping of the state’s tax system.

This story is provided by AARP New Mexico. Visit the AARP New Mexico page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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