2019 Session Update #1
January 20, 2019
The 2019 session of the New Mexico Legislature convened on Tuesday and we are now at the end of the first week. A new governor was sworn in on January 1st and LJC is cautiously optimistic that some progress can be made in terms of moving criminal justice forward. This is a sixty-day session which means there are no limitations on the bills that can be considered. This is not the case in even -numbered years when sessions are limited to budget matters and bills specifically requested by the governor.
The previous governor crusaded for harsher penalties for the past eight years which would ultimately have lengthened prison sentences and significantly increased the number of inmates in our already crowded prisons. We are hopeful that the new leadership from this governor will discourage reintroduction of some of the harshest proposals such as 3 strikes results in imprisonment for life and the abolition of the statute of limitations. Based on the work done leading up to the session, we expect that there will be some bipartisan cooperation on criminal justice reform. There are plans for an omnibus bipartisan bill relating to criminal just reform expected to be introduced by Senator Sander Rue and Representative Antonio Maestas. LJC is likely to support the legislation once we’ve completed our analysis.
No SORNA bill has been filed so for this session, but we do anticipate one will be forthcoming in the next couple of weeks. This means that LJC will need to be prepared to oppose SORNA enhancements when they (DPS) inevitably present their legislation.
The bills we are tracking are listed below and we anticipate having a tracking table as well by the end of the week. The full text of the bills is available on the New Mexico Legislative website (bill tracker). Go to www.nmlegis.gov/Legislation/BillFinder/Number
Bills LJC has already identified;
HB 52: HARM TO COMPANION ANIMALS AS DOMESTIC ABUSE
This is sponsored by Representative Joanne J. Ferrary. This proposal recognizes harm or threatened harm to companion animals as domestic abuse under the Family Violence Protection Act.
HB 103: THREE STRIKES EQUALS LIFE SENTENCE
This proposal is sponsored by Representative Bill Rhem and is a reintroduction of a bill that has been defeated multiple times in previous years. 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.
HB 104: TIME LIMIT EXTENDED FOR CRIME PROSECUTION
This bill is sponsored by Representative Bill Rhem and is identical to legislation he has carried the last two years. The proposal amends the Criminal Code to remove the statutory time limitation for commencing prosecution for the crimes of murder in the second degree, felony trafficking controlled substances, and for capital felonies or first‑degree violent felonies.
HB 190: PERMANENT NO CONTACT ORDERS TO RESTRAIN CONVICTED SEX OFFENDERS
This bill is sponsored by Kelly Fajardo and is similar to legislation she has carried in previous session. 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.
SB 55: NO STATUTE OF LIMITATION FOR SOME CRIMES
This bill is sponsored by Senator Jeff Steinborn and would amend the Criminal Code to totally remove the statute of limitations in cases of certain crimes against children.
Special Recognition and Appreciation
The LJC will be working with the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (NMCDLA) and the Law Office of the Public Defender (LOPD) to support and oppose legislation as appropriate. These two organizations do the heavy lifting year after year on criminal justice issues and we are grateful for all they do.
LJC plans to have a booth in the capitol on 2/21/19 and 2/26/19. We have done this for many years now and the reaction from lawmakers and the public has been overwhelmingly favorable. We would be grateful if for anyone wishing to volunteer to help us. We prefer that you join for the entire day, but we are grateful for any amount of time you can contribute. Contact Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (505)832-4291, if you would like to volunteer. Lunch will be provided to you.