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New Mexico bill allows testing to prevent fentanyl deaths

March 1, 2022 GMT
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, center, announces the end to her state's indoor mask mandate while Lt. Gov. Howie Morales, right, removes his mask on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, in Santa Fe, N.M. Lujan Grisham has been known for her adamant mask wearing, including in outdoor settings. She says a drop in the risk of COVID-19 allows her to drop the executive order mandating indoor mask wearing. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, center, announces the end to her state's indoor mask mandate while Lt. Gov. Howie Morales, right, removes his mask on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, in Santa Fe, N.M. Lujan Grisham has been known for her adamant mask wearing, including in outdoor settings. She says a drop in the risk of COVID-19 allows her to drop the executive order mandating indoor mask wearing. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, center, announces the end to her state's indoor mask mandate while Lt. Gov. Howie Morales, right, removes his mask on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, in Santa Fe, N.M. Lujan Grisham has been known for her adamant mask wearing, including in outdoor settings. She says a drop in the risk of COVID-19 allows her to drop the executive order mandating indoor mask wearing. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, center, announces the end to her state's indoor mask mandate while Lt. Gov. Howie Morales, right, removes his mask on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, in Santa Fe, N.M. Lujan Grisham has been known for her adamant mask wearing, including in outdoor settings. She says a drop in the risk of COVID-19 allows her to drop the executive order mandating indoor mask wearing. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, center, announces the end to her state's indoor mask mandate while Lt. Gov. Howie Morales, right, removes his mask on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, in Santa Fe, N.M. Lujan Grisham has been known for her adamant mask wearing, including in outdoor settings. She says a drop in the risk of COVID-19 allows her to drop the executive order mandating indoor mask wearing. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is allowing broad access to test strips that can detect the presence of the potent opiate fentanyl and potentially help avoid deadly overdoses, under legislation signed Monday by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The bill from Democratic legislators in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Los Alamos lifts restrictions on public access to devices that can test for drug impurities. It also gives state health health officials new authority to intervene and rein in the spread of diseases like HIV and hepatitis that can be transmitted through intravenous drug use.

Overdoses in New Mexico increasingly are linked to the ingestion of drugs laced with fentanyl. States including Arizona already have decriminalized test strips designed to detect fentanyl.

New Mexico routinely leads the American West in rates of opioid-related drug overdose deaths. It also has been on the forefront of strategies to reduce the toll of drug use and addiction, from the distribution of overdose antidote drugs to legal immunity provisions for people who may implicate themselves in crimes by seeking overdose treatment for themselves or others.

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Separately, Lujan Grisham signed a legislation that provides new preferences on state government procurement contracts to bids by Native American-owned businesses based on tribal lands and increases the preference for in-state and military-veteran owned businesses.

Procurement preferences are reserved for small-to-moderate sized businesses with annual revenues of up to $6 million, providing an 8% advantage on bidding prices to resident and Native American-owned businesses. Businesses owned by military veterans get a 10% advantage, under the legislation from Democratic Sen. Benny Shendo of Jemez Pueblo and Rep. Harry Garcia of Grants.

It was unclear how much the preferences might contribute to additional state spending. The state’s lead contracting agency has not tracked the previous 5% preference for resident-owned businesses.

Lujan Grisham also signed an increase in payments to many retired legislators from the pension fund for state and local government employees overseen by the Public Employees Retirement Association, without an increase in contributions. New Mexico legislators receive a daily stipend and mileage reimbursements when working but no formal salary.

Average annual pension benefits for retired legislators should increase from about $11,000 to $14,000.