Days remaining in session: 44

Baby talk: New Mexico women could use Medicaid to pay for lactation consultants under a bill advanced by the House Health and Human Services Committee this week.

More than 7 in 10 babies born in the Land of Enchantment are covered by the state-run health insurance program, according to the New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force. But federal regulations prohibit Medicaid from paying unlicensed medical providers, and New Mexico does not license board-certified lactation consultants.

House Bill 138, sponsored by Rep. Linda Trujillo, a Democrat from Santa Fe, and Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, a Democrat from Albuquerque, would create a process for consultants to become licensed through the New Mexico Board of Nursing.

According to the task force, there are 111 board-certified lactation consultants in New Mexico.

The bill’s supporters say higher breast-feeding rates would improve public health and help drive down health care costs.

In a statement, Trujillo said “lactation consultant licensure will give the lactation profession credibility and authority.”

The bill heads to the House State Government, Indians and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Baby steps: The leader of a new ethics group said Wednesday that a bill aimed at improving financial disclosures for those appointed to elected offices is a “small step in the right direction” but doesn’t go far enough.

House Bill 291, sponsored by Reps. Nathan Small, D-Las Cruces, Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque, and Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences, would require that appointees file financial disclosure statements within 30 days of appointment and would require the Secretary of State’s Office to keep the forms for as long as the appointee is in office. Currently, the statements are kept for only five years.

But Douglas Carver, executive director of New Mexico Ethics Watch, said in a Wednesday news release that the bill doesn’t address many of the group’s recommendations, which include requiring more specific information about income and real estate holdings and more information on memberships on boards and associations.

“We hope the Legislature can find the courage to implement the rest of our straightforward, commonsense recommendations to amend the act and provide proper and necessary disclosure of public officials’ finances,” Carver said.

Looking ahead

• At 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Attorney General’s Office in Santa Fe, Attorney General Hector Balderas, state Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, and advocate Laura Bobbs are scheduled to discuss Senate Bill 294, which would create the New Mexico Homicide Review Team to independently investigate child abuse-related homicides and develop methods to prevent child abuse.

• Saturday looks like a busy day for the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee. The panel is scheduled to hear bills dealing with four controversial topics — abortion restrictions, expanding background checks for private gun purchases, reinstating the death penalty and marijuana legalization. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday in Room 309. But if large crowds show up, the committee could move the meeting to a larger room or even the House floor.

Quote of the day: “You don’t have to smoke anything to get high.” — Sen. Bill Sharer, R-Farmington, during a hearing on marijuana legalization in the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee

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