capitol reports

Capitol Report – January 25, 2022

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Bipartisan lawmakers have introduced legislation to revise the Safe Haven Act to allow for infants to be legally surrendered anonymously in a secure “Baby Box.”

Jason Espinoza reports from the Roundhouse.

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Republican Senator David Gallegos and Democratic Senator Leo Jaramillo have introduced legislation amending the Safe Haven Act to allow for the installation of baby boxes in all thirty-three counties.

A baby box is described as a safety drawer at a firehouse where an infant can be surrendered safely and anonymously for any reason. The boxes would be equipped with ventilation and heat regulation, and a silent alarm to alert the rescue team.

Currently, the use of baby boxes is not permitted in New Mexico under the Safe Haven Act which specifies that infants can only be surrendered to a healthcare provider, law enforcement officer, or first responder within 90 days of birth to remove liability of abandonment from the parent.

The boxes stand to cost the state about $30,000 per installation.

The legislation comes on the heels of a recent incident in Hobbs, where law enforcement says a young women abandoned her newborn baby in a dumpster. The newborn was later found alive by individuals looking through the dumpsters.

The case has brought renewed attention to the safe haven law.

Upon introduction, Senator Jaramillo stated he hopes this legislation will allow communities around the state to install these life saving devices and avoid the next tragedy.

Senator Gallegos noted, If this bill can save just one life, it will be worth every dollar invested in this project.

For the New Mexico News Network, I’m Jason Espinoza

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