Legislative Update #6, February 24, 2019
The 2019 session is moving into the final three weeks and there are 658 bills pending in the House and 636 pending in the Senate.
We are pleased to report that we had a great exhibit in the capitol on Thursday and we will be back again on Tuesday for another full day. We estimate we engaged with more than 50 people during the day and most of the interactions were positive. These exhibits are made possible by your financial support of LJC.
Even though there is not a comprehensive SORNA bill us to fight as we had expected, we have been busy on many fronts dealing with other criminal justice issues. We have repeatedly expressed optimism that there will be criminal justice reform measures passed this session. We reported last week that we were becoming concerned that HB 342 (the omnibus criminal justice reform) may have stalled. We are now pleased to report that the legislation has not stalled and is in fact moving. A strategic decision was made to split the bill into two parts to prevent it from dying due to possible opposition to the second component which deals with probation good time. That component was introduced as a separate bill which is now HB 564. LJC supports the legislation and we are working to move both bills through the process. Both bills have received “do pass” recommendations from the House Judiciary Committee and are scheduled for debate (today) Sunday afternoon.
Bills LJC Opposes:
HB 307 This terrible legislation would significantly increase penalties for sexually related offenses as well as the registration periods for corresponding crimes. It was scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, February 5th in the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee (CPAC) and has not been rescheduled. For all practical purposes, the proposal is dead for this session, but it will return in a future session because the sponsor will not give up.
HB 104 This bill extends the statute of limitations on certain offenses. It received a “do pass” recommendation from the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee and was heard by the House Judiciary Committee on Friday. Fortunately, the committee voted to table the legislation which means it is likely dead for this session. This proposal will return because the law enforcement apparatus will not stop trying to abolish the statute of limitations.
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. For all practical purposes, the proposal is dead for this session, but it will return in a future session because the sponsor will not give up.
SB 55 sponsored by Senator Jeff Steinborn (D) from Dona Ana County. This bill would increase the statute of limitations for many crimes. We have repeatedly stated that abolition of the statute of limitations is a top priority of victim advocacy organizations and is a nationwide trend. Even though SB 55 received a unanimous “do pass” recommendation from the Senate Public Affairs Committee, we expressed hope that we could reduce the potential reach of the bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC). That in fact did occur when the bill was considered by the SJC. We are grateful that the SJC substituted the bill and put forward a revised bill that only increases the statute of limitations to 35 for alleged sexual misconduct against minors. The bill is now awaiting a final vote by the Senate. Once it passes the Senate, it will then move on to the House of Representatives where we will continue trying to kill it.
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. Due to the fact the legislation has not moved yet, we believe this issue is dead for this session.
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 is likely dead for this session.
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. As we reported above, this bill is likely dead for this session but it too is likely to return.
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, this proposal was split into two bills and is scheduled to be debated by the full House today. 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 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 also received a “do pass” from the House Judiciary Committee (HJC) on February 23rd. The committee report from HJC is not available yet, but the vote was 3-1 in CPAC with one member absent. The bill is now before the full House for a final vote. LJC feels that enactment of this legislation is long overdue because arrest records and criminal convictions are a significant barrier to employment and living a productive life. 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 was split from HB 342 and 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. LJC strongly supports this legislation.
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), the Senate Judiciary Committee and a substitute version was approved by the full Senate. The final Senate vote was 28-11 with only three (3) Republicans voting in favor which means there is a great deal of work yet to be done in convincing Republicans to support giving offenders a second chance. 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 was heard in the Senate Public Affairs Committee and received a “do pass” recommendation. It is now awaiting a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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.
We will have our second booth in the capitol on February 26th. Some have responded and signed up already, but we can use a few more to accommodate no-shows or to reduce the length of each shift. If you are willing to help, contact Rick at email@example.com or call (505)832-4291. If you are unable to volunteer for this project, we have other volunteer opportunities throughout the year.