TOMORROW: Support a 36% APR rate cap on storefront loans!

New Mexicans Deserve Fair Credit!

We need your help to get a bill requiring an all-inclusive 36% APR cap on storefront loans passed by the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee TOMORROW at 10:00 a.m. 

Please attend the hearing and give public comment to ensure that New Mexico’s laws prevent abusive and predatory financial practices.

New Mexico has one of the highest interest rate caps on installment loans in the country. Lenders across the state are taking advantage of triple-digit interest rates and draining hundreds of millions of dollars from hardworking New Mexicans each year. A family who borrows a storefront loan for just a few hundred dollars at the current rate cap of 175% APR will end up paying hundreds, even thousands of dollars in interest and fees.  

You might share a personal story with legislators about why no one should be allowed to charge triple-digit interest rates. You might also share why you support the bill. For example: “I urge the Representative to support House Bill 132 for an all-inclusive 36% cap on storefront loans. No one should have to choose between paying their rent and making payments on a triple-digit loan. New Mexicans deserve access to fair and responsible credit.”

HB 132 Summary

House Bill 132, sponsored by Representatives Herrera, Garratt, Anderson, Ely and Speaker Egolf would require an all-inclusive 36% APR cap on storefront loans and ensure that New Mexico’s laws prevent abusive and predatory financial practices. 

Public Comment Instructions

When: Tomorrow January 29 at 10:00 a.m. 
How: Click the link below to join the webinar.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87885692969

Or One tap mobile : US: +13462487799,,87885692969# or +16699009128,,87885692969#

Or Telephone: Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

US: +1 346 248 7799 or +1 669 900 9128 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1

646 558 8656 or +1 301 715 8592

Webinar ID: 878 8569 2969

International numbers available: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/ksTm89qpc

What to Expect During the Hearing

The committee will be taking public comment. The chair of the committee will announce the bill and ask who supports HB 132. At that time, to provide a comment use the Zoom reaction button and raise your hand. The chair will call your name and unmute your zoom when it is your turn to speak.

Tips

  • Keep your remarks brief and to the point.
  • If you have a personal story about high interest loans, please share it.
  • Close the Legislature’s webcast page when you give your comment so there is not an echo during your remarks.
  • Make sure you are not muted when it is your turn to speak.
  • Do not rely on your phone or computer for notes. Write them down on a piece of paper or print them out in case your computer or phone freeze.
  • Close other tabs and windows in your browser to make sure your connection is good.
  • If your microphone or internet connection doesn’t work then be prepared to call in on your phone using the number at the same link above.

We need your help TOMORROW so New Mexicans with disabilities have access to federal disability benefits!

HM 18: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Legal Data is scheduled to be heard TOMORROW at 8:30 a.m. in the House Health and Human Services Committee. We need your help to get it passed.

Please join the virtual committee hearings tomorrow and provide public comment in support of the bill. A Zoom link will be available on the PDF calendar posted here.

Everyone should be able to meet basic needs, especially New Mexicans living with disabilities. House Memorial 18 would ensure the Legislature hears about a New Mexico Human Services Department pilot program that provides 150 New Mexicans with legal assistance to help them transition from the state-funded General Assistance (GA) to federally-funded disability, known as Supplemental Security Income or SSI. 

SSI more than triples a GA participant’s income from $245/month to $841/month, alleviating deep poverty while increasing housing stability and food security. The state can also recoup any GA benefits provided to an adult who is ultimately approved for SSI.

It can be very difficult to get federal disability benefits without legal assistance. This is why other states have invested up front in legal advocacy to help GA participants access federal disability. Other models have eliminated the need for state funding to support GA programs because the funding is self-sustaining. 

The HSD pilot is a first step in New Mexico to ensure more New Mexicans get the help they need. Help make this happen by supporting HM 18 so the Legislature hears important information from HSD and community stakeholders about the pilot. 

HM 18 Summary

HSD launched a pilot program to assist more adults living with disabilities win their SSI claims. This Memorial asks HSD to report to the Legislature on the pilot’s success.

HM 18 Asks

  1. Legislative Health & Human Services to hold interim committee hearings and take testimony from HSD and advocates for GA participants; and
  2. HSD to report key data and outcomes from the SSI advocacy pilot and the GA cash assistance program to LHHS.

Public Comment Instructions

When: 8:30 a.m., Friday, January 28, 2022
How: Click here or on the PDF calendar available here for a Zoom link..

What to Expect During the Hearing

The committee will be taking public comment. The chair of the committee will announce the bill and ask who supports HM 18. At that time, to provide a comment use the Zoom reaction button and raise your hand. The chair will call your name and unmute your zoom when it is your turn to speak.

Tips

  • Keep your remarks brief and to the point.
  • If you have a personal story about a family member, friend, or community member who had difficulty accessing SSI benefits, please share it.
  • Close the Legislature’s webcast page when you give your comment so there is not an echo during your remarks.
  • Make sure you are not muted when it is your turn to speak.
  • Do not rely on your phone or computer for notes. Write them down on a piece of paper or print them out in case your computer or phone freeze.
  • Close other tabs and windows in your browser to make sure your connection is good.
  • If your microphone or internet connection doesn’t work then be prepared to call in on your phone using the number at the same link above.

Court orders state to identify languages spoken by families trying to access food and medical assistance

Ruling comes as HB 22, mandating state agencies plan for translation and interpretation services, works its way through Legislature.

ALBUQUERQUE—Last week, a federal court ordered the New Mexico Human Services Department to collect data on the languages spoken by New Mexicans served by the state’s food and medical assistance program and affirmed the agency’s legal obligation to translate documents based on the demographics of those served by local agency offices. 

“We are relieved and heartened by the judge’s order. Everyone, including those who speak languages other than English, deserves to have access to the resources intended to support them,” said Sachi Watase of the New Mexico Asian Families Center. “This kind of language discrimination is not new. Unfortunately, too many New Mexicans’ health and safety are predefined by these inequitable barriers. Lack of translation is part of a systemic problem that ignores the existence of Asians in New Mexico.”

The order gives HSD no more than 30 days to develop and begin conducting a 90-day survey and submit a report on the findings no later than 15 days after the survey is completed.

New Mexican families who speak languages other than English have reported barriers accessing food and medical assistance, which has been especially difficult during the pandemic. Some lost food assistance multiple times because notices about renewing benefits are only in English. Others reported having to pay private interpreters, despite having no income and having to deal with unnecessary in-person contact during the public health emergency. 

Despite repeated attempts since 2009 to bring these issues to HSD’s attention, the agency refused to address them. Applicants for food and medical assistance, represented by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, filed a motion in October 2021 in the Deborah Hatten Gonzales v. David Scrase lawsuit. US District Court Judge Kenneth Gonzales ruled on the motion last Friday. 

“Everyone should have access to state services, regardless of the language they speak. The court order requiring HSD to gather language data from families seeking benefits is an important first step toward providing meaningful access to state services for New Mexicans,” said Verenice Peregrino Pompa, attorney with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty.

Community-based organizations that work directly with New Mexicans that speak languages other than English or Spanish, like the New Mexico Asian Family Center and the Refugee Well-being Project, have to divert limited resources and take on additional clients to provide translation and interpretation services that are the state’s responsibility under federal and state law. 

Many New Mexicans speak languages other than English–including Vietnamese, Chinese, Dari, Arabic, Swahili, Kinyarwanda, and Diné. Many of these languages meet population thresholds that require translation of food and medical assistance applications and documents under federal law. However, the state only provides written documents in English and Spanish and oral interpreters are nearly impossible to reach without additional help. 

A bill, sponsored by Representatives Kay Bounkeua and Roybal Caballero and currently moving through the Legislature, could further help to rectify state agencies’ lack of adequate translation and interpretation. House Bill 22: Limited English Access To State Programs would require all state agencies with secretaries to perform a similar language use analysis and develop an agency language access plan. Last Friday, the same day the court order was issued, the bill passed the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee.

“A plan is critical so agencies can determine how to best provide the necessary translation and interpretation services that many New Mexicans need to access state services,” said Peregrino Pompa.

The long-running Hatten-Gonzales lawsuit was originally filed in 1989. In 2016, the court held former HSD Secretary Brent Earnest in contempt for failing to remove systemic barriers to assistance for eligible families applying for food and Medicaid assistance and appointed a Special Master to monitor and make recommendations to the department.

The court order can be found here: https://cookieless-offload.s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/nmpovertylaw/Order-Language+Access-DHG-2022-01-21-compressed.pdf

The September 2021 order for HSD to implement a corrective action plan can be found here:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1r-N6N8KCIk1sJDxxxywIY5Zz7dIeRf81/view?usp=sharing

Information on HB 22 can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1j6ZmNw7JHYZ3KoXzTwq-nU26SIQRUxeZ/view 

TOMORROW: Help ensure all New Mexicans can access state services in languages other than English!

HB 22: Limited English Access to State Programs is scheduled to be heard TOMORROW at 8:30 a.m. in the House State Government, Elections & Indian Affairs Committee. We need your help to get it passed!

Please join the virtual committee hearings tomorrow and provide public comment in support of the bill. A Zoom link will be available on the PDF calendar posted here

All New Mexicans deserve equal access to state services, regardless of the language they speak. New Mexico is home to thousands of people that primarily speak Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Diné and other languages. Despite being required by law, many agencies do not provide information and services in languages New Mexicans understand. Lack of language services has delayed or prevented New Mexicans from applying for unemployment insurance, food assistance, and Medicaid prior to and during the pandemic and deepens economic and health disparities in our communities. 

HB 22 requires state agencies to develop plans to provide help in languages other than English, ensuring that more New Mexicans can access state services. You can share a personal story about why state agencies should provide interpretation or translation. You can also say something like this: “I urge senators to support HB 22. All New Mexicans should have access to state services. Coordinating and planning language services is a common sense step to address health and economic inequities in our state services.”

HB 22 summary

Language Access Analysis, Plan, and Annual Report will increase language access by requiring state agencies to: 

  • Collect data on the number of New Mexicans that primarily speak a language other than English and determine the resources needed to ensure meaningful access to services through translation and interpretation.
  • Develop and implement an annual plan to provide meaningful access to state programs for individuals who primarily speak languages other than English. 
  • Appropriates $50,000 to the Department of Finance and Administration for expenditure on state agency plans and linguistic data.
  • Submit the annual report to the governor and the Legislative Finance Committee.

Public comment instructions

When: 8:30 a.m., Friday, January 21, 2022

How: Click on the PDF calendar available here for a Zoom link. 

What to expect during the hearing: The committee will be taking public comment. The chair of the committee will announce the bill and ask who supports HB 22. At that time, to provide a comment use the Zoom reaction button and raise your hand. The Chair will call your name and unmute your zoom when it is your turn to speak.

Tips 

  • Keep your remarks brief and to the point.
  • If you have a personal story about how state agencies’ lack of interpretation or translation services has impacted you or your family, please share it.
  • Close the Legislature’s webcast page when you give your comment so there is not an echo during your remarks.
  • Make sure you are not muted when you start speaking.
  • Do not rely on your computer or phone for notes. Write them down or print them in case your computer screen freezes.
  • Close other tabs and windows in your browser to make sure your connection is good.
  • If your connection or microphone doesn’t work, be prepared to call in with the information above.