Legislative Update #5

Several House bills have crossed over into the Senate. LJC is vehemently opposed to some, most notably, House Bill 56. This is the mammoth SORNA and human trafficking overhaul. As expected, the legislation passed the House near unanimously. In addition, House Bill 74 which we reported on last week passed despite significant Republican opposition. HB 74 would restore voting rights to felons once they are released from custody rather than upon completion of their sentence. A few bills have started to creep toward the end of their committees with a couple of substitute bills being introduced. We are hard at work with our legislative partners to improve or defeat the bad legislation. Also, we are updating our legislative session bill tracker daily, and monitoring all legislation diligently until the session closes.

House Bill 56 – Oppose

As we reported before, this is the biggest bill contrary to our mission of restricting any additions to SORNA or the stiffening of criminal penalties. It is largely in response to the Jeffrey Epstein attention over the last couple of years and has passed the House of Representatives. Like House Bill 74, we will make our stand in the Senate to ensure this bill goes no further.

House Bill 73 – Oppose

This human trafficking bill’s ambition was clearly to its detriment as it has not moved since its introduction from the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee. It sought to create a grant fund by charging certain businesses’ customers an extra fee to be deposited directly into a grant fund administered by the Attorney General’s Office. We still expect the bill to be dead, but we will still continue to track it.

House Bill 74 – Oppose

We reported last week that the Felon Voting Rights Bill was amended to create a separate voting rights restoration process for those subject to SORNA upon release from prison. The Republican-sponsored amendment would require an offender subject to SORNA to register with their local authority as a sex offender before their voting rights are restored. The bill has not moved since its assignment to the Senate Rules Committee, and we are working to remove the amendment and get this bill passed.

House Bill 40 – Neutral – Substitute House Bill 352 Introduced

Amid the discussion regarding private prisons and Coronavirus outbreaks, a bill was introduced seeking to institute a moratorium on private prisons by a certain date, requiring all private prisons to cease operations. That bill was largely met with criticism by NMCD for its interpreted impracticality. HB 40 has not moved since it passed the House Judiciary Committee with substantial amendments. Another bill has been introduced as a substitute – HB 352; the difference being that the newer bill only seeks to stop the addition of more private prisons to New Mexico. We are neutral toward the passage of either of these bills, but will continue to monitor any changes as it directly affects many of those we serve out of Otero County’s Correctional Facility.

To read the full text of these bills, go to http://www.nmlegis.gov/Legislation/BillFinder/Number.

To view our expansive bill tracker this session, go to https://libjusco.net/2021/02/11/legislative-session-2021-bill-tracker/.

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