2023 Legislative Update #5

The deadline for submitting bills has passed and there is just under four weeks remaining in this legislative session. The Liberty and Justice Coalition (LJC) remains hopeful of positive outcomes regarding the bills we are working on. These bills have been discussed in previous LJC legislative updates, so only their statuses are presented below. Both the House and Senate saw a flurry of last-minute introductions last week and there are now 514 bills in the House and 498 in the Senate. A few appear to be of concern, but the LJC has not yet evaluated them in detail.

HB 445, “Human Trafficking & Sex Offenders” was introduced last week. With a few minor changes, this is the same as HB 56 which died in the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) during the 2021 legislative session. To quote Yogi Berra, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.

The LJC strongly opposes HB 445 in its present form because the proposal merges the topics of sex offender registration, human trafficking, and child prostitution. These would be best discussed as separate pieces of legislation. Blending these subjects will invariably result in less incisive analyses and may lead to unforeseen negative consequences.

On initial review, LJC specifically takes issue with the following provisions.

  1. Allowing a “conditional discharge” in the definition of a conviction for purposes of sex offender registration (Section 1(B)). A conditional discharge in New Mexico means no conviction is entered if all conditions are met. A conditional discharge is not a conviction in New Mexico. HB 445 would undo this and force registration of those who have completed the terms of their conditional discharge.
  2. Redefining the term “sex offender” to include any registrant in another state who “owns a residential property in New Mexico” (Section 1(I)(3)). The bill does not clarify how a non-resident property owner must register in this state. In addition, we believe such a provision is unconstitutional.
  3. Expanding the definition of “sex offense” to include “any conviction” in another jurisdiction that requires registration in that jurisdiction (Section 1(J)(15)). This would include out-of-state offenses that would not trigger registration if committed in New Mexico. Many states have a broader list of registerable offenses than New Mexico. We believe this provision would violate the equal protection clause of the constitution.
  4. Mandating that anyone convicted of an offense requiring registration in another state must register in New Mexico without prior correlation with New Mexico criminal statutes. The individual may later petition a court for relief providing; (a) this would not require registration in New Mexico; and (b) the court finds “good cause” to relieve the person from registering (Section 2(E)(8)). The bill is vague in providing no definition of the term “good cause”.
  5. No credible evidence exists that sex offender registration increases public safety. Expanding the list of covered convictions to include human trafficking and child prostitution (Section 2(D)(6) and (7)) will not add to public safety.
  6. Eliminating the defense that an intended minor victim of prostitution was in fact a peace officer posing as a minor (Section 4(D)). Such a provision will seriously dilute any entrapment defense and would likely lead to law enforcement utilizing more questionable tactics.

LJC has not concluded its evaluation of HB 445, nor has the Fiscal Impact Report from the Legislative Finance Committee been submitted.

Key to Abbreviations:

HCPAC – House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee
HHHC – House Health & Human Services Committee
HJC – House Judiciary Committee
SHPAC – Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee
SJC – Senate Judiciary Committee

HB 445 – Human Trafficking & Sex Offenders
Location: HCPAC
Hearing Status: UNSCHEDULED

HB 58 – Three Strikes
Location: HCPAC
Hearing Status: UNSCHEDULED
Actions: TABLED in HCPAC

HB 128 – Chemical Castration
Location: HHHC
Hearing Status: UNSCHEDULED

SB 82 – Statute of Limitations (criminal)
Location: SJC
Hearing Status: UNSCHEDULED

SB 123 – Pre-trial Detention Reform
Location: SJC
Hearing Status: UNSCHEDULED
Actions: TABLED in SJC

SB 128 – Statute of Limitations (civil)
Location: SJC
Hearing Status: UNSCHEDULED

SB 174 – Pre-trial Release Hearing Standards
Location: SJC
Hearing Status: UNSCHEDULED
Actions: Substitute bill given “Do Pass” recommendation by SHPAC

SB 399 – Solitary Confinement Limits
Location SHPAC
Hearing Status: UNSCHEDULED

SB 215 – Establish Crime of Bestiality
Location: SHPAC
Hearing Status: UNSCHEDULED

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