2020 Session Update #4
February 10, 2020
The 2020 session of the New Mexico Legislature has passed the midway point. There are only ten (10) days remaining. As we have stated previously, 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. Even with this constraint, there are 404 bills in the House and 323 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. It is safe to say that HB 43 is dead for this session, but it will return in 2021. 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. The supporters of HB 43 used Jeffrey Epstein as the boogeyman to justify this misguided legislation.
New SORNA Threat
Last week we reported on HB 237, a new SORNA threat, which was determined to be germane. This bill is a massive 32-page proposal that had previously been determined not germane to the session. It received a “Do Pass” recommendation in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee last Tuesday. It is now awaiting a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.
The bills we are tracking are listed below. The period for introduction closed on the 15th which means there will be no more bills introduced this session.
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 was determined not germane which means it’s dead for this session.
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 was determined not germane which means it’s dead for this session.
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 limbo and appears to have been subsumed into another bill. More details in next update.
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 was determined not germane which means it’s dead for this session.
HB 237: SORNA AND OMNIBUS CRIME BILL
As we reported last week, 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. The proposal did receive a “Do Pass” recommendation in the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee and is now in the House Judiciary Committee.
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.
HB 263: PROBATION AND PAROLE BILL
This bill is sponsored by numerous Representatives including Antonio Maestas, Gail Chasey, William “Bill” R. Rehm, Jane E. Powdrell-Culbert and Alonzo Baldonado. This is labeled as a criminal justice reform bill with clarification on probation and parole procedures. At first glance this moves in the right direction with distinguishing between technical and non-technical violations. It requires treatment, sanctions and incentives prior to incarceration. However, a deeper read of this leaves out any of these protections for those on probation or parole for ANY sex offense. Additionally, it takes away judicial discretion on converting from supervised to unsupervised probation on any sex offense. For these reasons, LJC does not support this bill. At present time this bill is moving through the process and we will keep you apprised of the status.
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.
ATTENTION !!! LJC Booth Cancelled
LJC had a booth scheduled in the capitol on February 11th, 2020. Due to the inclement weather and hazardous travel prediction the exhibit has been cancelled.