Legislative Update #8, March 10, 2019
The 2019 session is moving into the final few days and our legislators are working extremely long hours. The session concludes at noon on Saturday March 16th. The pace of activity has been so hectic over the past week we can barely track the action. We are grateful that there is no SORNA bill pending because we have been busy with other legislation. We began this session optimistic that some criminal justice reform measures would pass. It now all but certain that there will be some good legislation sent to the governor.
HB 342: CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORMS
We are pleased that HB 342, the omnibus criminal justice reform legislation, has nearly completed the journey and will become law if the governor approves. Thanks to a wise strategic decision by the sponsors to split what began as a larger bill into two parts, it is almost certain that HB 342 will reach the governor. The final remaining step is that the bill must return to the House of Representatives for concurrence because the Senate made changes. The separation of the bills was done to prevent HB 342 from dying due to anticipated opposition to the second component which gave relief to those on probation and parole.
HB 564: PROBATION/PAROLE REFORMS
The anticipated opposition did materialize on HB 564 and the bill may not make it to the governor. It has cleared the House of Representatives after being watered down due to howls from families of victims and advocacy organizations. HB 564 is now in the Senate facing two hearings which means it will be difficult to make it to the finish line by Saturday. LJC supports the legislation and we will continue to try to move the legislation through the process.
HB 370: LIMITED EXPUNGEMENT OF ARREST/CRIMINAL RECORDS
We are excited to report that the bill passed the full House on February 26th by a vote of 52-17. The bill is now in the Senate where has received a “do pass” recommendation from both committees and is now on the Senate calendar awaiting 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 feels confident that the full Senate will approve the measure and it will soon be on the governor’s desk. It is our hope that this governor will not veto the bill. That is the fate we suffered with previous expungement bills under Governor Richardson and Governor Martinez.
SB 55: STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
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 which makes it difficult to stop. We did reduce the potential reach of the bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) from what was originally proposed. The Senate revisions reduced the time permitting an accuser to come forward to age 35. Existing law tolls the statute of limitations until the minor reaches age 18 and generally permits six years for the alleged victim to come forward. The bill is now awaiting a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. LJC will continue trying to amend the bill or kill the proposal altogether.
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. The bill was approved by the full Senate and is now in the House of Representatives. It was heard on Wednesday by the House Labor, Veterans’ And Military Affairs Committee and received a “do pass” recommendation. It has one more committee to clear before it goes to the full House for a final vote. LJC strongly supports this legislation as it represents a first step in eradicating employment barriers.
SB 323: 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. The bill was approved by the full Senate and is now in the House of Representatives. Time is running short to get the proposal through the House of Representatives before adjournment because it must clear the House Judiciary Committee and the full House before noon on Saturday. LJC supports this legislation because harsh penalties for simple possession are detrimental to society.
BILLS LIKELY DEAD
HB 307 The intent of the bill is to significantly increase penalties for sexually related offenses as well as the registration periods for corresponding crimes. 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 is dead for this session. The proposal would extend the statute of limitations on certain offenses. This proposal will return because the law enforcement apparatus will not stop trying to abolish the statute of limitations.
HB 190 This legislation is probably dead for this session. The intent is to issue permanent no contact orders to restrain convicted sex offenders. We can be certain that this legislation will return in a future session because the sponsor will not give up.
The full text of all bills is available on the New Mexico Legislative website (bill tracker). Go to www.nmlegis.gov/Legislation/BillFinder/Number.