LJC has identified three major bills this legislative session. The most significant threat is in response to the media attention surrounding Jeffrey Epstein over the past 2 years. HB 56 – a major SORNA overhaul and human trafficking penalty increase, SB 310 – increasing the statute of limitations for certain sex crimes, and HB 73 – a comprehensive reform regarding human trafficking grant funding that involves taxing specific businesses’ patrons. Another bill LJC has identified as adverse to our position is HB 62. This bill proposes to eliminate the statutory limitation for 2nd degree murder.
Senate Bill 310 – Oppose
This newly introduced bill proposes an increase in the statute of limitations for certain sex crimes from the victim’s attainment of age 26, to the victim’s attainment of age 35. We have opposed similar legislation in the past and very well expect it to return next year in some form if it does not pass; nonetheless, we oppose this bill as well and will work every year to kill any bills that propose extending the statute of limitations.
House Bill 56 – Oppose
This bill primarily is intended to amend New Mexico’s SORNA which does not require a person with an out of state sex offense conviction to register unless the non-New Mexico offense equivalent to an offense here in New Mexico. It also would require out-of-state sex offender residential property owners in New Mexico to register at that property’s address, regardless of whether or not they physically reside there. It stiffens the registration for human trafficking and child prostitution offenses to lifetime registrations (up from 10 years). It goes on to update the definition of human trafficking in New Mexico to include all children under the age of 18 as qualifying for a 1st degree felony (up previously from age 12). We had previously brought a suit in federal court that directly opposed what this bill is trying to accomplish regarding out-of-state convictions for registrants; we also oppose any expansions of SORNA or its “lifetime” offenses. For those reasons, LJC opposes this bill and will continue to work on making sure this bill does not move forward past the judiciary committee.
House Bill 62 – Oppose
This bill is part of a long-running battle to stiffen the penalty for 2nd degree murder in New Mexico; in this bill, it removes the statute of limitation on 2nd degree murder altogether (up from 6 years previously). Consequently, it also lessens the statute of limitations for drug trafficking to minors DOWN from lifetime to only 6 years. Although lessening the statute of limitations for non-violent offenses is something the LJC supports, we cannot support this bill in its current state because of its direct tie to removing the statute of limitations for 2nd degree murder; we oppose this bill as we have the slippery slope of increasing the statute of limitations further.
House Bill 73 – Oppose
Likely one of the most ambitious bills of the session, it seeks to create a new human trafficking grant fund by requiring live adult entertainment businesses to charge a mandatory $5 “cover charge” to its patrons. In addition, it would require all internet-device retailers to install an internet filter on their devices that will only be removable after a $20 “filter fee” as well as any “convenience fee” they may charge for its removal. Both the $5 “cover charge” and the $20 “filter fee” would be remittable to the newly established grant fund to be managed by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office. There are numerous constitutional issues as well as fiscal management concerns regarding this bill that have already been voiced on record by the New Mexico Attorney General, the New Mexico Public Defender’s Office, and New Mexico’s Crime Victims Reparation Commission. LJC also has serious concerns, particularly the burden of requiring extra responsibilities of legal businesses to offset the criminal actions of others; as such, we firmly oppose this bill. It has currently been referred to the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee and has not moved yet. We hope it is dead on arrival, but we will continue to monitor this bill this session.
House Bill 201
This bill proposes minimum or medium risk defendants (as defined by a validated scoring instrument) to be released from probation after they have completed at least half of their probation and “met” all of their probation’s obligations. This bill in its current state is currently too vague to take a position on as it may be read to require probationers to pay their entire supervision fees AND restitution (the former being as high as nearly $9,000) before they can be released early. It is scheduled for House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee this week.
Senate Bill 141
This bill was introduced just this last week; it is similar to probation and parole reform bills we have supported in the past. It creates a distinction between SVO/SO supervision & standard probation/parole by instituting a mandatory technical violation sanction program for both types of probation before an arrest for a technical violation is made AND a mandatory arrest program for SVO/SO supervision only – meaning “special conditions” of probation may be instituted as exempt from the technical violation program. It is a move in the right direction, but we are working to analyze it further once it emerges from the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee today (2/10/21).
There are also other bills we are currently monitoring and will have more information on as soon as the legislative session progresses.
The full text of all bills is available on the New Mexico Legislative website (bill tracker). Go to www.nmlegis.gov/Legislation/