2020 Session Update #5
February 17, 2020
The 2020 session of the New Mexico Legislature is now nearing conclusion with adjournment scheduled for noon on Thursday. 30-day sessions are limited to adoption of a state budget and items specifically requested by the Governor which tends to reduce the number of bills introduced. As stated in last week’s update, there are 404 bills in the House and 323 pending in the Senate.
Note: A final Legislative Report on the 2020 session will be provided by the end of this week.
Current SORNA Threat
HB 237 is the bill we are now working to kill. This bill is a massive 32-page proposal that had previously been determined not germane to the session. It received a “Do Pass” recommendation from both House Committees and was passed by the full House. It is now awaiting a hearing in the House Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC). We are working hard to educate the members of SJC that this proposal is misguided and should be amended or killed.
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.
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.
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 was merged into HB 263 which LJC opposes.
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 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. At this point, it appears most unlikely that this legislation can make it to the finish line.