With emergency clause, bill will become effective immediately 

Santa Fe, N.M. – Today, essential workers who contract COVID-19, and whose employers have failed to comply with Covid-safe practices, will qualify for Workers’ Compensation benefits under new legislation passed by the New Mexico House of Representatives.  

Sponsored by Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos), Rep. Meredith A. Dixon (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Daymon Ely (D-Corrales), and Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero (D-Albuquerque), House Bill 268 adds to the Workers’ Compensation Act a rebuttable presumption that contraction of COVID-19 by an essential employee is a work-related injury eligible for worker compensation if the employee can establish that their workplace has not complied with public health orders.  

“COVID-19 is a highly-contagious virus that can be easily spread throughout the workplace, especially when employers are not complying with public health orders meant to help keep their staff safe,” said Rep. Hochman-Vigil. “Employees who are subject to these dangerous conditions in order to do their essential job deserve adequate Workers’ Compensation benefits should they contract the virus and become ill.”  

“Public health orders are in place in New Mexico because COVID-19 is dangerous, often causing serious illness, long-term health issues, and even death. If an employer chooses to violate the state’s mandates, then they are liable for resulting employee illnesses,” said Rep. Chandler. “Conversely, businesses who follow the rules will not face claims under this Act, and can even receive explicit exclusion if they proactively implement testing and tracing plans approved by the Department of Health.”  

"This pandemic has shown the glaring reality that many of our essential workers lack the coverage necessary to be protected in this pandemic,” said Rep. Dixon. “This bill simply extends the most basic protections to essential employees and sets forth guidelines so workers and businesses have a clear understanding of when COVID-10 infections are work-related and should be covered.” 

“This bill is about heroes, and if we don’t pass this bill heroes will get COVID-19 at the workplace where an employer is not following the law, and they cannot get workers compensation,” said Rep. Ely. “If we were to not pass this bill, we would be protecting irresponsible businesses who’re exposing their employees to danger without consequences.”  

“New Mexico’s essential workers are putting their health and safety on the line every day to provide the rest of our state with healthcare, food, public safety, and other vital services,” said. Rep. Roybal Caballero. “They deserve to do so in a safe, state-compliant workplace, and to receive proper compensation and benefits if their employer’s negligence contributes to them contracting the virus which has already killed over 3,700 New Mexicans.”  

Under HB 268, employers may rebut COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation claims by providing evidence that the worker personally and substantially violated current public health orders.  

Passed by the House on a 38-27 vote, HB 268 will now move to the Senate. The bill would become effective immediately upon the Governor’s signature and would remain in effect until January 31, 2023. 

Members of the public can track legislation on the New Mexico Legislature website, access committee meetings and House floor sessions via the Webcasts tab, or participate by Zoom to provide public comment on committee hearings. During the 2021 Legislative Session, the House of Representatives is focused on passing critical legislation while protecting the health and safety of the public, the staff, and the legislators.  


Submitting to the Beat

Those new to providing news releases to the Beat are asked to please check out submission guidelines at https://www.grantcountybeat.com/about/submissions. They are for your information to make life easier on the readers, as well as for the editor.

Advertising: Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ads on the Beat.

Classifieds: We have changed Classifieds to a cheaper and shorter option. Check periodically to see if any new ones have popped up. The former software failed us, so it's just a category now, with prices posted. Send your information to editor@grantcountybeat.com and we will post it as soon as we can. Instructions and prices are on the page.

Editor's Notes

Please Note in Classifieds a dog looking for a home. And now a well-loved cat is looking for a home.

Here for YOU: Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News. Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—www.grantcountybeat.com

Feel free to notify editor@grantcountybeat.com if you notice any technical problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.  The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  

Compliance: Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat readership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised. 

Content on the Beat

WARNING: All articles and photos with a byline or photo credit are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

Disclaimer: If you find errors in articles not written by the Beat team but sent to us from other content providers, please contact the writer, not the Beat. For example, obituaries are always provided by the funeral home or a family member. We can fix errors, but please give details on where the error is so we can find it. News releases from government and non-profit entities are posted generally without change, except for legal notices, which incur a small charge.

NOTE: If an article does not have a byline, it was written by someone not affiliated with the Beat and then sent to the Beat for posting.

Images: We have received complaints about large images blocking parts of other articles. If you encounter this problem, click on the title of the article you want to read and it will take you to that article's page, which shows only that article without any intruders. 

New Columnists: The Beat continues to bring you new columnists. And check out the old faithfuls who continue to provide content.

  • The Beat has a column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues.

Newsletter: If you opt in to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option at the top of this page, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Go to Top