2020 Session Update #3
February 3, 2020
The 2020 session of the New Mexico Legislature is nearing the end of its second week. 30-day sessions are limited to adoption of a state budget and items specifically requested by the Governor which reduces the number of bills considerably. As we have stated previously, bills must be determined to be germane to the session which means that all bills must be accompanied by an executive message and go through an additional committee process. At this time, there are 328 bills in the House and 239 pending in the Senate. Most of the bills are not germane and will not be considered.
House Bill 43
HB 43 (SORNA Bill) was derailed by the coordinated work of the Liberty and Justice Coalition along with our advocacy allies. HB 43 would impose New Mexico’s SORNA on anyone convicted in another state if that state requires registration, regardless of what offense the person was convicted of in the other state. As we have stated repeatedly, the supporters of HB 43 are using Jeffrey Epstein as the boogeyman to justify this misguided legislation.
The proposal was heard in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee (CPAC) which is a key committee in terms of analyzing the public policy ramifications of legislative proposals. As we stated in our Special Update on HB 43, the threat of a SORNA bill did not end last Tuesday. The reason the bill did not move is that the sponsor with the strong backing of the Department of Public Safety sought to substitute a much larger bill in place of the introduced version. This meant that the bill grew from five pages to ten pages at the last minute. Members of the committee were not comfortable with the last-minute changes, which had not been thoroughly analyzed by the time the proposal was considered.
New SORNA Threat
The bad news is that there is a new threat since the special update. Now we are having to fight HB 237. This bill is a massive 32-page proposal that had previously been determined not germane to the session. It now has been assigned to the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee to be heard on Tuesday.
The bills we are tracking are listed below. Keep in mind that there will be more bills introduced which means we will be adding to this list. The period for introduction closes on the 15th day of the session which is Wednesday February 5th.
The full text of the bills is available on the New Mexico Legislative website (bill tracker). Go to www.nmlegis.gov/Legislation/BillFinder/Number
PRIORITY LEGISLATION LJC HAS IDENTIFIED:
HB 33: 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 who are at least 60 years old. The proposal is currently in the House Rules and Order of Business and appears to be stuck there.
HB 34: HABITUAL SENTENCING EXPANDED
Providing that a prior felony conviction within twenty-five years of a subsequent felony conviction be considered for the purpose of habitual offender sentencing. Our current statutory scheme does not permit habitual enhancement for convictions more than 10 years old. LJC will oppose this change. The proposal is currently in the House Rules and Order of Business and appears to be stuck there.
HB 35: USE OF FIREARM–ALTERATION OF BASIC SENTENCE
This proposal would increase the firearm enhancement from one to three years for a first offense and from three to five years for a second offense. The proposal is in the House Judiciary Committee awaiting a hearing.
HB 36: NO TIME LIMIT FOR 2nd DEGREE MURDER
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 of controlled substances, and for capital felonies or first‑degree violent felonies.
LJC will oppose this proposal as we have done in previous years. The proposal is currently in the House Rules and Order of Business and appears to be stuck there.
HB 237: SORNA AND OMNIBUS CRIME BILL
This 32-page overreaching piece of legislation is being offered in a sinister attempt to moot LJC’s federal lawsuit and in response to the highly sensationalized cases involving Jeffrey Epstein and James Stewart. The purported problem this proposal seeks to remedy is that Jeffrey Epstein’s Florida conviction did not trigger a duty to register in New Mexico. The reason is current New Mexico law requires registration for those CONVICTED of any of the twelve enumerated offenses or an attempt to commit an enumerated sex offense and “their equivalents” from other jurisdictions. See 29-11A-3(I) NMSA. Since some states have a broader list of enumerated sexual offenses, this situation can result in an out-of-state conviction not being “equivalent” to any offense that triggers a registration obligation in New Mexico. In addition, those granted a Conditional Discharge for an enumerated sex offense in New Mexico are not required to register.
This bill is not limited to the SORNA additions but also seeks to expand the definition and penalties for Human Trafficking, require Property Forfeiture for certain crimes, raise the age of consent, and increase the statute of limitations for certain crimes among numerous other expansions to existing law. While on the surface these may look like an attempt to be tougher on sex crimes, the bill as a whole will suffer from the impossibility of implementation and constitutional challenges.
SB 97: NO STATUTE OF LIMITATION FOR SEX CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN
This bill is sponsored by Senator Jeff Steinborn and would amend the Criminal Code to amend the statute of limitations in cases of sex crimes against children. If passed, the state could commence prosecution at any time until the alleged victim (minor) reaches age thirty. LJC will vigorously oppose this legislation. The bill was heard in the Senate Public Affairs Committee and received a “Do Pass” recommendation. It is now in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
LJC will have a booth in the capitol on February 11th, 2020. We have done this for many years now and the reaction from lawmakers and the public continues to be positive. Although we have enough volunteers for this year, we would be grateful for anyone wishing to help us. It is always good if we have extras in the event some cannot make it. 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, leave a message if you would like to volunteer or inquire about year round volunteer positions.