Legislative Update #5, February 17, 2019
We have just passed the midpoint of the 2019 session which means that the period for introduction of legislation has closed. We did see the flurry of legislation we had anticipated and there are now 658 bills pending in the House and 636 pending in the Senate. This compares to 531 and 509 respectively just one week ago. This total does not include 76 blank bills that are introduced as placeholders to be used later if necessary.
Although there was no comprehensive SORNA bill introduced, there is now a bill that amends New Mexico’s SORNA which we will provide more details later in this update. As we have stated several times, LJC is well prepared to oppose any SORNA enhancements and that is precisely what we intend to do.
We have expressed optimism that there will be bipartisan cooperation on criminal justice reform this session. Now that we have passed the halfway point, we are becoming concerned that HB 342 (the omnibus criminal justice reform) bill may be stalled. This legislation is sponsored by leading Democrats and has some Republican support as well. Unfortunately, it has not been heard yet by the House Judiciary Committee. Our sources have told us that it is scheduled to be heard this coming Wednesday in the House Judiciary Committee. We recently announced that LJC supports the legislation and we are working to move it through the process.
Bills LJC Opposes:
HB 307 This legislation would significantly increase penalties for sexually related offenses as well as the registration periods for corresponding crimes. This bill was scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, February 5th in the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee (CPAC). The bill was removed from CPAC’s calendar and a referral to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee (HAFC) was added. This means if the bill should the bill pass CPAC and the House Judiciary Committee (HJC), it will have to be approved by HAFC before it can go to the House floor. This additional referral will make it difficult for the legislation to pass which is good news.
HB 104 This bill extends the statute of limitations on certain offenses. Unfortunately, it received a “do pass” recommendation from the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee and is now before the House Judiciary Committee scheduled to be heard on February 18th. If HB 104 does receive a “do pass” from HJC, it must also be heard by HAFC which will make it very difficult to pass the House.
HB 190 This legislation proposes permanent no contact orders to restrain convicted sex offenders. This bill was scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, February 5th in the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee (CPAC). HB 190 was removed from the calendar and has not been rescheduled.
SB 55 sponsored by Senator Jeff Steinborn (D) from Dona Ana County. This bill would increase the statute of limitations for many crimes. Abolition of the statute of limitations is a top priority of victim advocacy organizations and prosecutors. Even though SB 55 received a unanimous “do pass” recommendation from the Senate Public Affairs Committee, we expressed hope that we could reduce the reach of the bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC). That in fact did occur when the bill was heard on Monday February 11th. The SJC substituted the bill and put forward a bill that increases the statute of limitations to 35 for allegations alleged by minors. Due to the enormous financial ramifications of this legislation, it has now been referred to the Senate Finance Committee. No hearing has been scheduled yet.
HB 103: THREE STRIKES EQUALS LIFE SENTENCE
This ridiculous legislation sponsored by Representative Bill Rhem and is nearly identical to legislation that he has previously sponsored which has not passed. It provides for additional violent felonies in the Criminal Sentencing Act for the purpose of mandatory life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for three violent felony convictions. An exception provides for parole eligibility for certain inmates age 60 years older. We believe we can defeat this misguided policy and prevent this from getting out of the House.
HB 190: PERMANENT NO CONTACT ORDERS TO RESTRAIN CONVICTED SEX OFFENDERS
This bill is sponsored by Kelly Fajardo from Valencia County and is similar to legislation she has carried in previous sessions. The bill requires the sentencing court to determine if a permanent no‑contact order should be issued to protect the victim. Also provides for a hearing, written findings of fact and statement of grounds to be incorporated into the sentencing judgment, a violator’s arrest, misdemeanor conviction and punishment, conditions for rescission, and entry of the order in the NCIC protection order file. As we reported above, this bill will be difficult to pass with the third committee referral.
HB 307: CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONTACT WITH A MINOR PENALTY
This bill is sponsored by Kelly Fajardo (R) from Valencia County. It proposes to increase the penalties for criminal sexual penetration perpetrated against a child; increase the penalties for criminal sexual contact of a minor; and amend sections of the sex offender registration and notification act. The SORNA amendments are generally cleanup language but there is a provision that would increase the notification requirement imposed on county sheriffs. Currently sheriffs are required to notify schools and other child-care providers within a one-mile radius. This bill would increase that requirement to a five-mile radius of the registrant’s address. LJC opposes the legislation.
HB 342: CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
This bipartisan legislation is sponsored by Senators Sander Rue, Richard Martinez, Representatives Antonio Maestas and Gail Chasey. As we stated earlier, we are becoming concerned that this bill may have stalled. The intent for the legislation is to reform of the criminal justice system by providing for assistance to offenders with behavioral health diagnoses; revising procedures related to a person incarcerated in a county jail; revising protections for persons involved with an alcohol-or drug-related overdose; providing procedures for post-conviction petitions; revising requirements for pre-prosecution diversion programs; revising procedures related to probation and parole; revising requirements for presentence reports; revising requirements for crime victims' reparations; enacting the accurate eyewitness identification act; revising duties of the New Mexico sentencing commission; requiring eyewitness identification policies and training.
HB 370 LIMITED EXPUNGEMENT OF ARREST/CRIMINAL RECORDS
This bill was heard on Tuesday February 12th in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee (CPAC). The five-member committee voted to recommend that the bill pass, and it is now awaiting a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. The vote was 3-1 with one member absent. Enactment of this legislation is long overdue because arrest records and criminal convictions are a significant barrier to employment and living a productive life. Although we expect considerable opposition from the business community, the Albuquerque Journal, and some conservative legislators, LJC will work very hard with the sponsors to get this legislation to the governor’s desk.
HB 564 PROBATION GOOD TIME
This bipartisan legislation is sponsored by Representatives Antonio Maestas, Gail Chasey, and Senator Sander Rue. The bill provides clarification and guidance for probation and parole; allowing for a person on probation to have the time required for probation to be decreased for good behavior. The proposal would provide good time to be credited to the person’s term of supervision with the goal moving the offender from supervised to unsupervised status.
SB 96: BAN THE BOX
This bill is sponsored by Senator Bill O’Neill (D) from Bernalillo County. This legislation states that “the employer shall not make an inquiry regarding an applicant's conviction on the employment application but may take into consideration an applicant's conviction after review of the applicant's application and upon discussion of employment with the applicant. This bill has received a “do pass” from the Senate Public Affairs (SPAC) and the Senate Judiciary Committee and is now awaiting a vote by the full Senate. LJC strongly supports this legislation as it represents a first step in eradicating employment barriers.
SB 323 DECREASING PENALTIES FOR POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA AND OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA
This bill is sponsored by Senator Joseph Cervantes (D) from Dona Ana County. It would dramatically reduce the penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana and paraphernalia. LJC supports this legislation because harsh penalties for simple possession are detrimental to society. This bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Public Affairs Committee on February 19th.
SB 521 INTERNET BLOCKING AND NEW REGISTRATION FOR HUMAN TRAFFICKING
This legislation was just introduced and is sponsored by Senators Richard Martinez and Carlos Cisneros. If enacted, it would require certain felons (sex offenders) to install blocking software while under supervision; require the those convicted of human trafficking to register under New Mexico’s sex offender registration and notification act; impose a $200.00 fee for those convicted of human trafficking; and create the human trafficking and child exploitation prevention fund. LJC opposes this legislation and will work to defeat it.
The full text of all bills is available on the New Mexico Legislative website (bill tracker). Go to www.nmlegis.gov/Legislation/BillFinder/Number.
This is our final reminder that LJC plans to have a booth in the capitol on February 21st and again on February 26th. Some have responded and signed up already, but we can use a few more to accommodate any no-shows or to reduce the length of each shift. If you are willing to help, contact Rick at [email protected] or call (505)832-4291. If you are unable to volunteer for this project we have other volunteer opportunities throughout the year.