HOUSE BILL 345
56th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2023
Cynthia Borrego and Tara L. Lujan and Antonio Maestas
RELATING TO PUBLIC SAFETY; PROVIDING RECRUITMENT DISBURSEMENTS TO NEWLY HIRED FIREFIGHTERS; CREATING A FIREFIGHTER RECRUITMENT FUND; REQUIRING DISTRIBUTION AND OVERSIGHT OF THE FIREFIGHTER RECRUITMENT FUND BY THE HOMELAND SECURITY AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT; MAKING AN APPROPRIATION.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. [NEW MATERIAL] FIREFIGHTER RECRUITMENT FUND--
CREATED--RECRUITMENT STIPEND DISBURSEMENT--REPORTING.--
A. The "firefighter recruitment fund" is created in
the state treasury. The fund consists of money appropriated by the legislature, federal money granted to the state for the purposes of the fund, income from investment of the fund and money otherwise accruing to the fund. Money in the fund shall not revert to any other fund at the end of a fiscal year. The homeland security and emergency management department shall administer the fund to provide:
(1) recruitment disbursements for firefighters starting employment with a fire department; provided that the recipient remains employed as a firefighter with that fire department for three years; and
(2) support for disbursement administration processes and reporting compliance.
B. Money in the fund shall be disbursed on warrants signed by the secretary of finance and administration pursuant to vouchers signed by the secretary of homeland security and emergency management or the secretary's authorized representative.
C. Contingent on the completion of reporting requirements provided in Subsection E of this section, the homeland security and emergency management department shall determine and distribute annually to a fire department the amount necessary to provide a recruitment disbursement to firefighters newly employed by that fire department. A fire department shall expend funding received for no other purpose than that permitted by this section, and any unexpended balance received by a fire department pursuant to this section at the end of a fiscal year shall revert to the firefighter recruitment fund. The homeland security and emergency management department shall monitor the use of funding and ensure the proper reversions to the firefighter recruitment fund.
D. A firefighter shall receive a recruitment disbursement in the amount of five thousand dollars ($5,000) upon new employment with a fire department; provided that the recipient remains employed as a firefighter with that department for three years. If a firefighter does not remain employed with the hiring fire department for three years, the fire department shall be repaid the amount of the recruitment disbursement, unless the homeland security and emergency management department finds acceptable extenuating circumstances for why the firefighter cannot continue employment. If the homeland security and emergency management department does not find acceptable extenuating circumstances for the firefighter's failure to remain employed with the hiring fire department for three years, the homeland security and emergency management department shall require immediate repayment of the amount of the recruitment disbursement.
E. To receive funding pursuant to Subsection C of this section, a fire department shall make a request to the homeland security and emergency management department prior to June 1 of each fiscal year, and in that request, the fire department shall report the following:
(1) the number of firefighters employed by the fire department in the last year;
(2) the number of firefighters that left the employ of the fire department in the last year; and
(3) the number of applicants to the fire department in the last year.
F. The homeland security and emergency management department shall:
(1) provide forms, standards, procedures and related training to fire departments as necessary for the fire departments to report retention information;
(2) maintain the privacy and security of information in accordance with applicable state and federal laws; and
(3) adopt and promulgate rules as necessary to implement the provisions of this section.
G. The homeland security and emergency management department may waive reporting information required by a fire department pursuant to Subsection E of this section; provided that the homeland security and emergency management department shall provide an explanation of its decision in writing.
H. The homeland security and emergency management department shall submit an annual report providing information collected pursuant to Subsection E of this section to the governor and the legislature no later than December 15 of each year.
I. As used in this section:
(1) "fire department" means an organization of a county or municipality that employs firefighters and is entitled to distributions from the fire protection fund and is capable of providing fire suppression and related activities;
(2) "firefighter" means a person who is a full-time salaried public employee of a fire department, who provides fire suppression services involved in controlling and extinguishing fires and who is exposed to the dangers of heat, flame, smoke and other products of combustion, explosion or structural collapse; and
(3) "recruitment disbursement" means the amount disbursed from the firefighter recruitment fund based on the new employment of a firefighter at a fire department but is not considered salary for the purpose of calculating retirement benefits.
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