Constitutional and Legal Reform Initiatives proposed by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador

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On February 5, 2024, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador submitted to the Chamber of Deputies a package of 18 constitutional amendments and two legal reform initiatives ("Initiatives") that aim, among other aspects, to modify the functioning of the Legislative and Executive branches and the electoral system; eliminate various autonomous constitutional bodies and regulatory organisms, as well as to simplify the structure of the Federal Public Administration; strengthen the Federal Electricity Commission ("CFE") and modify the power sector; establish constitutional prohibitions on various matters such as fracking, open-pit mining, the use of vaping systems and fentanyl, and elevate various social programs launched during his administration to constitutional rank, as well as create a supplementary Pension Fund.

These Initiatives can be divided into three categories: (i) initiatives with implications, direct or indirect, on regulated sectors; (ii) initiatives proposing the reorganization of government bodies and austerity measures; and (iii) initiatives modifying Human Rights recognized in the Constitution or elevating social programs to constitutional rank.

Initiatives with implications on Regulated Sectors

a) Right to Food, Healthy Environment, and Right to Water Access:1 This constitutional reform initiative proposes (i) declaring Mexico as a country free of genetically modified maize crops – such as transgenic maize – for sowing and human consumption –, (ii) limiting authorizations of licenses to use water for population centers – to guarantee personal consumption and domestic water use – to public entities, and prohibit awarding concessions in areas with low water availability, (iii) the prohibition of open-pit mining and use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) technologies for the extraction of hydrocarbons that use water as a base fluid, (iv) an obligation for the State to promote comprehensive rural development, through the fostering of agricultural and forestry activity for the optimal use of land through infrastructure works, credits, education, and technical assistance, and (v) an obligation for the State to issue laws to plan and organize agricultural production, its industrialization, and commercialization, all of which will be considered activities of public interest.

The transitional provisions2 in this initiative provide that contracts, concessions, permits, and authorizations related to activities provided on article 27 of the Constitution (i.e., water, hydrocarbons, and mining) that were granted before the effectiveness of this initiative will be respected.

b) Protection of Health:3 This constitutional reform initiative proposes changes to the Constitution to (i) prohibit the production, distribution, and sale of electronic cigarettes, vaping systems, and other systems or devices specified by the law, as well as the (ii) prohibition of the production, distribution, and sale of toxic substances, chemical precursors, and legally unauthorized synthetic drugs, such as fentanyl.

c) Railways:4 This constitutional reform initiative proposes that (i) the consideration of railways as a priority area will include both passenger and freight transportation, and that the State will resume the right to use railway tracks to provide passenger transport services, (ii) the Federal Executive may grant licenses to public companies or concessions to private entities to render passenger rail services, (iii) private companies currently holding concessions titles for freight rail transport service may obtain concessions to provide passenger rail transport services, and (iv) passenger rail transport service will be prioritized over freight transportation.

d) Energy and Telecommunications:5 This constitutional reform initiative proposes (i) changing the nature of the CFE from a productive company and returning it to a State owned company, (ii) that, although laws will determine how private entities will participate in the electric industry, in no case will they have precedence over the CFE as a State public company which has an obligation to fulfill social needs and ensure the continuity and accessibility of public electricity service, and (iii) that the provision of Internet services by the State and the planning and control functions of the national electric system will not constitute monopolies and clarifies that the objectives of those public services will be to preserve energy security and self-sufficiency, provide electricity to people at the lowest possible price to ensure national security and sovereignty through the CFE.

e) Pensions:6 This constitutional reform initiative sets forth the right for workers aged 65 or more who began contributing to the Mexican Social Security Institute ("IMSS") from July 1, 1997, and those under the regime contributing to the Institute for Social Security and Services for State Workers ("ISSSTE"), to receive a retirement income equivalent to their last salary and capped at the equivalent of the average salary registered in the IMSS (i.e., $16,777.78 pesos).

This initiative proposes creating a Public Pension Fund, which will be formed with these contributions from the Federal Government, and which will be evaluated every eight years:

Initial Contributions
  • 75% of the resources from the Institute to Return to the People What Was Stolen.
  • Resources obtained from the liquidation of the National Fund for Agricultural, Rural, Forestry, and Fishing Development.
  • Income from the sale of undeveloped real estate properties owned by the National Fund for Tourism Promotion.
  • Amounts recovered from debts of the agencies and entities of the Federal Public Administration, the Congress of the Union, and the autonomous bodies; as well as from the powers of the federal entities and municipalities or from any public entity that has debts with the Tax Administration Service, ISSSTE, or IMSS.
  • Resources obtained through the application of articles 302 of the Social Security Law and 37 of the Law of the National Fund for Workers' Housing Institute.
Supplementary Contributions
  • Resources from the Trusts of the Federal Judicial Power.
  • Financial resources and savings generated by the elimination of autonomous constitutional organisms, regulatory bodies, decentralized entities, administrative units, and other public entities to be extinguished because of duplication of its functions.
  • 25% of the remaining profits obtained from the income of the entities ascribed to the Army (Secretary of National Defense) and the Navy, as well as the returns, uses, and other financial products derived from the management of said resources.
  • Resources from the sale of real estate owned by the State in possession of the ISSSTE.
  • Products from the investments of the Public Pension Fund's assets.
  • Donations or any other type of contribution from any individual or legal entity.

The transitional provisions of the initiative provide that these modifications will come into effect once the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit creates the Public Pension Fund, and their benefits will apply to workers who retire after such date.

Initiatives proposing the Reorganization of Government Bodies and Austerity Measures

a) Reforms to the Federal Judicial Branch ("PJF"):7 On the operation of the PJF, this constitutional reform initiative proposes (i) eliminating the Federal Judiciary Council ("CJF") and that its administrative functions will be transferred to a judicial administration body (appointed by the Powers of the Union), while its disciplinary functions will be transferred to a Judicial Discipline Tribunal (elected by popular vote), (ii) the reduction from 11 to 9 Justices of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation ("SCJN"), a reduction in the term of office of the Justices from 15 to 12 years and the elimination of the SCJN Chambers (it proposes the SCJN to operate in Plenary only), (iii) the election by popular vote, following a call and nomination by the three powers of the union of Justices of the SCJN, Electoral Magistrates, Circuit Magistrates, Military Discipline Tribunal Magistrates, and District Judges, (iv) changes to remunerations of judicial civil servants so that no judicial official earns more than the President, (v) allowing the Electoral Tribunal of the Judicial Power of the Federation to resolve challenges in key judicial elections, (vi) extending the scope of impeachment and establishing procedures for criminally prosecuting judicial officials, and (vii) strengthening the independence of local judicial powers and establishing a legal framework for the judiciary of Mexico City.

As for provisions applicable to trials and procedures, this initiative proposes that (i) the Plenary of the SCJN may establish binding precedents with a vote of six justices and that its hearings will be public, (ii) amparo judgments and suspensions issued in amparo trials concerning general norms, in no case, may have general effects, and (iii) that, in no case, the suspension of general norms in actions of unconstitutionality or constitutional controversies will proceed.

The initiative also proposes that laws will establish the amount in dispute in tax matters in which the Courts, Judges, and the SCJN will have no more than six months to decide on the issue. In cases in which this deadline is not met, the Court will need justify the reasons for a delay to the Judicial Discipline Tribunal.

The transitional provisions propose that judicial officials who are in office at the time of the reform's entry into force will conclude their assignment on the date the officials elected by popular vote take office, that is, all heads of jurisdictional bodies will be replaced in the same process. For this purpose, the transitional articles establish mechanisms for holding the extraordinary elections.

For the first extraordinary election, the Justices of the SCJN and the Magistrates of the Superior Chamber and Regional Chambers of the Electoral Tribunal of the PJF will enter into office in different periods to guarantee a replacement in phases.

As for Circuit Magistrates and District Judges, those elected in the extraordinary election will serve until 2030, and then will be elected for nine years. Only the Judicial Discipline Tribunal will be able to remove Magistrates and Judges from their positions according to the procedures established in the laws. 

b) Electoral:8 This constitutional reform initiative proposes that (i) the National Electoral Institute be transformed into the National Institute of Elections and Consultations ("INEC"), whose counsels will be elected by popular vote, following the nomination of candidates by the three powers, (ii) eliminating local public electoral organizations, whose functions will now be transferred to the INEC and strengthening the Electoral Tribunal of the PJF to decide on all types of electoral disputes, (iii) lowering the requirement for popular consultations and mandate revocation to have binding effect from 40% to 30% of the electoral list – the initiative clarifies that tax matters, the organization, functioning, and discipline of the national guard cannot be subject to popular consultation, and restrictions on public consultations on electoral matters, revenues, expenditures, and ongoing infrastructure works to public consultation are eliminated –, (v) reducing funding to political parties and allowing fundraising through private sources, (v) eliminating plurinominal deputies and senators, (vi) modifying the rules for the use of airtime on radio and television in campaigns and pre-campaigns, and (vii) reducing the members of local Congresses, municipal councils, and mayoralties to adjust the number of representatives according to the population of each federal entity.

As for political parties, the initiative provides that new political parties may request their registration before the electoral term that takes place every three years and that electoral authorities can only intervene in the internal affairs of political parties to reinstate candidate selection procedures, but, in no case, may appoint candidates. The reform also proposes changes rules to use radio and television for electoral purposes through a new scheme that allocates time slots based on the electoral performance of the political parties.

This initiative proposes the implementation of electronic voting to benefit from information and communication technologies to facilitate citizen participation in elections and popular consultations. It proposes conducting trials and pilot tests before its widespread implementation to ensure its integrity and security.

The transitional provisions of the initiative set forth that, on a one-time basis, the extraordinary election to renew the counsels of the INEC and the magistrates of the Electoral Tribunal of the PJF will take place on the first Sunday of June 2025, and the new councilors will take office on September 1, 2025, and the magistrates on October 1, 2025. Once these new officials are elected or sworn in, the previous counsels and magistrates will cease their functions. 

c) Organizational Simplification / Dissolution of autonomous and regulatory entities.9 This constitutional reform initiative proposes the reincorporation into the Federal Public Administration, extinction, and merger of the functions performed by the Autonomous Constitutional Bodies, Regulatory Bodies in energy matters, and other decentralized entities as follows:

Public Entity Transferred to
Federal Economic Competition Commission Ministry of Economy
Federal Telecommunications Institute National System for the Continuous Improvement of Education
National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy National Institute of Statistics and Geography
National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information, and Personal Data Protection

(i) On the rights of access to information, protection of personal data in possession of public entities, and transparency: to the Ministry of Public Administration related to the federal public administration, to the Judicial Branch's control and disciplinary body related to the Judicial Power, to the state comptrollers of the Congress within their powers.

This structure is replicated at the state level with their comptrollers or equivalent areas.

As for political parties, it is transferred to the INEC and for trade unions to the Federal Center for Conciliation and Labor Registration and the Federal Tribunal for Conciliation and Arbitration.

(ii) On the rights to the protection of Data in possession of private parties: to the Federal Executive.

National Hydrocarbons Commission Ministry of Energy
Energy Regulatory Commission Ministry of Energy
National System for the Continuous Improvement of Education Ministry of Public Education

d) National Guard:10 This constitutional reform initiative proposes various constitutional amendments to assign the National Guard to the Ministry of National Defense and as part of the armed forces.

e) Austerity Measures and Civil Servants' Remunerations:11 This constitutional reform initiative proposes modifying the constitutional text to set forth (i) the principle of republican austerity as the guiding principle in public spending of the Federation, the federative entities, the municipalities, and the territorial demarcations of Mexico City, (ii) that the compensation applicable to the Justices of the SCJN, officials of the Federal Judiciary and the Judicial Power of the States and Mexico City, cannot be higher than that of the President in the applicable annual budget, (iii) the power of the Federal Congress to issue a General Law on Republican Austerity (that is, to apply this principle at the local level), and (iv) that the total remuneration of the President will include all cash or in-kind perceptions and may not exceed the value equivalent to 73.04 times the annual value of the Unit of Measure rate calculated by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography; it also specifies that expenses subject to verification, per diems, security services, and generally those that are part of the President's mandate, including the operation of residences, headquarters, offices, facilities, etc., do not form part of the compensation.

The initiative also proposes as part of its transitional provisions that (i) the remunerations of civil servants that are higher than the remuneration of the President must be adjusted within the expenditure budgets corresponding to the fiscal year following their entry into force, regardless of the date they began they entered into office, (ii) the Federal Congress will have 90 days to issue the General Law on Republican Austerity, and the Local Congresses will have 180 days to make the necessary adjustments to the corresponding local laws, and (iii) the savings generated in the expenditure budgets will be allocated to the Public Pension Fund.

f) Modifications to the transitional articles of the ISSSTE Law.12 This legal reform initiative proposes that the ISSSTE may reduce up to 100% of moratorium interests, updates, and surcharges derived from debts for unfulfilled quotas and contributions registered at the end of the fiscal year 2023, which are paid during the fiscal year 2024.

g) Reduction of the Federal Public Administration.13 This legal reform initiative proposes reforming various administrative laws to suppress or merge administrative units, decentralized administrative bodies, and decentralized public organizations into dependencies or entities of the Federal Public Administration.

Decentralized Agency Ministry or Department That Absorbs Its Functions
General Coordination of the Mexican Commission for Refugee Aid Ministry of the Interior
Executive Secretariat of the National System for Comprehensive Protection of Children and Adolescents National System for Integral Family Development
National Seed Inspection and Certification Service and the Agricultural and Fisheries Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
Information Service National Institute of Indigenous Languages Ministry of Culture
Mexican Institute of Water Technology and the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources
National Commission for the Efficient Use of Energy Ministry of Energy
Mexican Institute of Youth Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare
National Institute of Social Economy, the National Institute of Older Adults, and the National Council for the Development and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities Ministry of Welfare
Executive Secretariat (of the National Anti-Corruption System) Ministry of Public Administration
National Center for Child and Adolescent Health Ministry of Health

This legal reform initiative also proposes (i) merging the Mexican Institute for Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Research with the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries to create a new decentralized body, (ii) transferring the powers of promoting reading from the Ministry of Culture to the Ministry of Public Education and the Economic Culture Fund, so that this decentralized body absorbs the functions of the General Directorate of Publications, and (iii) merging the Taxpayer's Defense Office and the National Commission for the Protection and Defense of Financial Services Users.

Initiatives that Amend Human Rights Recognized in the Constitution or Elevate Social Programs to Constitutional Status

a) Indigenous and Afro-Mexican Peoples and Communities:14 This constitutional reform initiative proposes to recognize in the constitutional text (i) the Afro-Mexican population of Mexico as part of the country's cultural diversity, (ii) the free, prior, and informed consultation of indigenous and Afro-Mexican communities, (iii) the self-determination, cultural heritage, traditional medicine, languages, and educational models of indigenous peoples and Afro-Mexican communities, and (iv) indigenous and Afro-Mexican peoples and communities as subjects of public law with their own legal personality and patrimony. The initiative also proposes that indigenous peoples and communities will be the only ones entitled to challenge through the applicable judicial channels the non-compliance with the consultations.

b) Rights of Peoples with Disabilities, Seniors, and Promotion of Conditions for Rural Development:15 This constitutional reform initiative proposed elevating to constitutional status (i) the right to a monthly allowance for all citizens over 65 years old (previously applicable from the age of 68), (ii) the right to an allowance and medical habilitation or rehabilitation for people with permanent disabilities under 65 years old and that from the age of 65 only receive the allowance granted to seniors - with priority for people under 18 years old -, and (iii) economic support for small-scale farmers, producers and fishermen through daily wages and annual support, free fertilizers and guaranteed prices for the purchase and sale of corn, beans, milk, rice, and wheat for bread-making. The initiative establishes the obligation for the State to allocate sufficient budgetary resources to guarantee pensions for seniors and for people with permanent disabilities and the prohibition of reducing the amount of resources from that allocated in the immediate previous fiscal year.

c) Wages:16 This constitutional reform initiative proposes that (i) the annual setting or review of minimum wages will never be below inflation, and (ii) full-time basic level teachers, police officers, national guards, members of the permanent Armed Force, as well as doctors and nurses, must receive a monthly salary that cannot be less than the average salary registered with the Mexican Social Security Institute.

d) Comprehensive, Universal, and Free Medical Care:17 This constitutional reform initiative proposes to include within the constitutional text the obligation for the State to provide comprehensive, universal, and free medical care, which will include medical examinations, surgical interventions, and medications. The transitional provisions of the initiative establish the obligation for the Federal Congress to make the necessary adjustments to laws to comply with the modifications within 90 calendar days.

e)  Housing System:18 This constitutional reform initiative proposes that (i) every agricultural, industrial, mining, or other class of work company will be obliged to provide its workers with decent housing, and (ii) after 1 year of contributing to the National Housing Fund for Workers, they may access social rental housing owned by the National Housing Fund and, after 10 years, ownership of housing.

f) Allowance for Unemployed Youths.19 This constitutional reform initiative proposes that the State will provide economic support to young people between 18 and 29 years old who are unemployed and not enrolled in any educational level, to be trained for a period of up to 12 months in businesses, companies, workshops, stores, and other economic units.

g) Criminal Matters:20 This constitutional reform initiative proposes to establish at constitutional level the ex-officio preventive detention in crimes related to extortion; retail drug trafficking; crimes committed for the production, preparation, sale, acquisition, import, export, transportation, storage, and distribution of synthetic drugs, such as fentanyl; tax fraud; smuggling; issuance; sale; purchase or acquisition of fiscal receipts, including invoices that cover nonexistent, false, or simulated legal transactions.

h) Animal Protection and Care:21 This constitutional reform initiative proposes to include in the constitutional text (i) the prohibition of animal abuse and the obligation of the State to guarantee the protection, appropriate treatment, conservation, and care of animals, (ii) that basic study plans and programs include a subject on animal protection, as well as the prevention and prohibition of abuse in breeding and in use of animals for human consumption, and (iii) powers to the Federal Congress – concurrent with the governments of local entities – to enact laws on animal protection, prevent and prohibit abuse in the breeding and in the use of animals for human consumption and to issue the necessary measures to address pest control and health risks.

Process to Approve Constitutional and Legal Reforms

To approve a constitutional reform, Congress members must issue a qualified majority (i.e., two-thirds) vote. Once endorsed by the Legislative Power, the reforms, or additions must be approved by a simple majority (i.e., half plus one) of the legislatures of the federative entities.

Unlike constitutional reforms, legal reforms only require a majority of the votes of congress members (i.e., simple majority) and do not require the intervention of the local legislatures.

For the approval of the constitutional reforms included in the package of Initiatives, the parliamentary group of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador would require the support of the opposition parties. The President and his allied parties do not have a qualified majority in the Chamber of Deputies (i.e., 334), nor in the Senate (i.e., 86) making it unlikely that the proposed constitutional reform initiatives will be approved as proposed, yet given that they may have significant weight in the elections to be held in June 2024, it could be that opposition parties agree to approve some of these Initiatives. As for legal reforms, the President's parliamentary group will be able to approve them without seeking the support of the opposition parties.

1 Amendments to articles 4º and 27 of the Constitution, available in Spanish here
2 Most Initiatives include as transitional provisions, among others, that: (i) the corresponding amendments will enter into force the next day after its publication; (ii) the term of 180 calendar days for the Federal Congress to enact or modify the related laws; (iii) that the expenses on which public entities incur to implement the amendments will have to be done with their approved annual budgets; no additional resources will be authorized by the Chamber of Deputies; (iv) the implicit revocation of all legal and regulatory provisions that contravene the constitutional amendments; and (v) where applicable, that local congresses will have 180 or 365 calendar days to enact or modify related local laws.
3 Amendments to articles 4 and 5 of the Constitution, available in Spanish
4 Amendments to article 28 of the Constitution, available in Spanish
5 Amendments to articles 25, 27 and 28 of the Constitution, available in Spanish
6 Amendments to article 123 of the Constitution, available in Spanish
7 Amendments to articles 17, 20, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 105, 107, 110, 111, 116 and 122 of the Constitution, available in Spanish
8 Amendments to articles 35, 41, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 60, 63, 73, 99, 105, 110, 111, 115, 116 and 122 of the Constitution, available in Spanish
9 Amendments to articles 3, 6, 26, 27, 28, 41, 76, 78, 89, 105, 113, 116, 123 y 134 of the Constitution, available in Spanish
10 Amendments to articles 13, 16, 21, 32, 55, 73, 76, 78, 82, 89, 123 and 129 of the Constitution, available in Spanish
11 Amendments to articles 94, 116, 122 and 127 of the Constitution, available in Spanish
12 Amendments to the Transitional Article Forty-Eight of the Social Security and Services for State Workers Law; available in Spanish
13 Amendments to various laws to simplify the Federal Administration, available in Spanish
14 Amendments to article 2 of the Constitution, available in Spanish
15 Amendments to articles 4 y 27 of the Constitution, available in Spanish
16 Amendments to article 123 of the Constitution, available in Spanish
17 Amendments to article 4 of the Constitution, available in Spanish
18 Amendments to article 123 of the Constitution, available in Spanish
19 Amendments to article 123 of the Constitution, available in Spanish
20 Amendments to article 19 of the Constitution, available in Spanish
21 Amendments to articles 3, 4 and 73 of the Constitution, available in Spanish

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