- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 3, 2015

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Her lips quivering and eyes filled with tears, Dolores Marquez waved, acknowledging the applause of New Mexico senators.

She was in pain, she said, moments after walking off the Senate floor Tuesday following the body’s unanimous approval of anti-bullying legislation named after her grandson Carlos Vigil, who was 17 when he committed suicide in 2013.

A Twitter post by Carlos Vigil about enduring bullying at school garnered widespread media attention after he committed suicide.

“I am hurting,” said Marquez of Los Lunas, trying to compose herself. “I have a shredded heart. My grandson is gone. We sacrificed for all of the other children of New Mexico.”

The anti-bullying bill spurred by her grandson’s suicide calls for the creation of a five-member board to oversee grant applications to eradicate bullying in New Mexico schools, colleges and communities.

The Carlos Vigil Memorial Act would create a fund to be administered by the University of New Mexico Board of Regents.

Bill sponsor Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, says bullying is an issue that “warrants a state response.”

The legislation provides a home “where we can make real our commitment” to the health and well-being of victims and prevention so no other children are lost to bullying, he said.

Sen. John Ryan, R-Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, said the more that can be learned about best methods to address bullying, the better.

New Mexico Public School Law requires the Public Education Department to establish policies and every local school district and state chartered school to implement bullying prevention programs, according to the PED.

No federal law specifically applies to bullying, but when the bullying is based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or religion, it overlaps with harassment and schools are legally obligated to address it, according to Stopbullying.gov, a federal government website. Most states have laws or policies or both to combat bullying, a site map shows.

Among purposes of the Carlos Vigil Act is to “cultivate a statewide culture where bullying is not accepted,” the bill states.

While the bill does not appropriate any money, Candelaria said he expects future private and state money to be collected in the fund to carry out the goals of the act.

Marquez said she was pleased with the passage of the anti-bullying legislation, which now moves to the House.

“There’s so much work to do and this is a step in the right direction,” she said.

Her grandson called her the morning he died and asked her to visit with him.

She should have dropped everything, said Marquez, adding she should have recognized the urgency.

“I am so glad that the Senate is now recognizing the urgency and not making the mistake and running away from the children but taking care of them,” she said.

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