Legislative Update #4, February 10, 2019
We are now at the end of the fourth week of the 2019 session and the number of bills continues to grow. There are now 531 bills pending in the House and 509 pending in the Senate. This compares to 463 and 454 respectively just one week ago. The deadline for introduction of legislation is Thursday February 14th which means we can expect a flurry of bills this coming week.
With only a few days remaining for introduction of legislation, no SORNA bill has been filed so far this session. We heard repeatedly prior to the session that one was in the works, so we are monitoring the website daily. You can be assured that LJC will be prepared to oppose SORNA enhancements when and if the law enforcement apparatus gets something introduced.
We continue to be optimistic that there will be some bipartisan cooperation on criminal justice reform this session. HB 342 is an omnibus bill relating to criminal justice reform strongly endorsed by leading Democrats and has some Republican support. LJC has now decided to support the bill and will be working actively to move it along the process.
Bills LJC Opposes:
HB 307 sponsored by Kelly Fajardo (R) from Valencia County. This legislation proposes to significantly increase penalties for sexually related offenses as well as the registration periods for corresponding crimes. This bill was scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, February 5th in the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee (CPAC). LJC spoke with key legislators regarding the significant financial ramifications of the bill. The bill was removed from the calendar and the House Appropriations and Finance Committee (HAFC) was added should the bill pass CPAC and the House Judiciary Committee (HJC). This will make it difficult for the legislation to pass which is good news.
HB 104 This bill extends the statute of limitations on certain offenses. Unfortunately, it received a “do pass” recommendation from the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee and is now before the House Judiciary Committee. If HB 104 does pass HJC, it must also be heard by HAFC which will make it very difficult to pass the House.
HB 190 sponsored by Kelly Fajardo (R) from Valencia county. This legislation proposes permanent no contact orders to restrain convicted sex offenders. This bill was scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, February 5th in the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee (CPAC). HB 190 was removed from the calendar and has not been rescheduled.
SB 55 sponsored by Senator Jeff Steinborn (D) from Dona Ana County. This bill would increase the statute of limitations for many crimes. Abolition of the statute of limitations is a top priority of victim advocacy organizations and prosecutors. Even though SB 55 received a unanimous “do pass” recommendation from the Senate Public Affairs Committee, we are hopeful that we can reduce the reach of the bill when it is heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC). It is scheduled to be heard on Monday February 11th. We are working diligently to amend this bill before it leaves the Senate with the ultimate goal of derailing it in the House.
HB 103: THREE STRIKES EQUALS LIFE SENTENCE
This ridiculous legislation sponsored by Representative Bill Rhem and is almost the same legislation 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 age 60 years older. We believe we can defeat this misguided policy and prevent this from making it out of the House.
HB 190: PERMANENT NO CONTACT ORDERS TO RESTRAIN CONVICTED SEX OFFENDERS
This bill is sponsored by Kelly Fajardo (R) from Valencia County and is similar to legislation she has carried in previous sessions. The bill requires the sentencing court to determine if a permanent no‑contact order should be issued to protect the victim. Also provides for a hearing, written findings of fact and statement of grounds to be incorporated into the sentencing judgment, a violator’s arrest, misdemeanor conviction and punishment, conditions for rescission, and entry of the order in the NCIC protection order file. As we reported above, this bill will be difficult to pass with the third committee referral.
HB 307: CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONTACT WITH A MINOR PENALTY
This bill is sponsored by Kelly Fajardo (R) from Valencia County. It proposes to increase the penalties for criminal sexual penetration perpetrated against a child; increase the penalties for criminal sexual contact of a minor; and amend sections of the sex offender registration and notification act. The SORNA amendments are cleanup language and a provision that would increase the notification requirement imposed on county sheriffs from a one-mile radius to a five-mile radius of the registrant’s address.
HB 342: CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
This bill is bipartisan sponsored by Senators Sander Rue, Richard Martinez, Representatives Antonio Maestas and Gail Chasey. As stated earlier, LJC supports this bill. The intent for the legislation is to reform of the criminal justice system by providing for assistance to offenders with behavioral health diagnoses; revising procedures related to a person incarcerated in a county jail; revising protections for persons involved with an alcohol-or drug-related overdose; providing procedures for post-conviction petitions; revising requirements for pre-prosecution diversion programs; revising procedures related to probation and parole; revising requirements for presentence reports; revising requirements for crime victims' reparations; enacting the accurate eyewitness identification act; revising duties of the New Mexico sentencing commission; requiring eyewitness identification policies and training.
HB 370 LIMITED EXPUNGEMENT OF ARREST/CRIMINAL RECORDS
This bill is scheduled to be heard on Tuesday February 12th in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee (CPAC). Enactment of this legislation is long overdue because arrest records and criminal convictions are a significant barrier to employment and living a productive life. Although we expect considerable opposition from the business community, the Albuquerque Journal, and some conservative legislators, LJC will work hard to get this legislation to the governor’s desk.
SB 96: BAN THE BOX
This bill is sponsored by Senator Bill O’Neill (D) from Bernalillo County. This legislation states that “the employer shall not make an inquiry regarding an applicant's conviction on the employment application but may take into consideration an applicant's conviction after review of the applicant's application and upon discussion of employment with the applicant. This bill has received a “do pass” from the Senate Public Affairs (SPAC) and is now awaiting a hearing in SJC. LJC strongly supports this legislation as it represents a first step in eradicating employment barriers.
SB 323 DECREASING PENALTIES FOR POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA AND OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA
This bill is sponsored by Senator Joseph Cervantes (D) from Dona Ana County. It would dramatically reduce the penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana and paraphernalia. LJC supports this legislation because harsh penalties for simple possession are detrimental to society. This bill is languishing in the Senate Public Affairs Committee and has not be scheduled for a hearing yet.
The full text of all bills is available on the New Mexico Legislative website (bill tracker). Go to www.nmlegis.gov/Legislation/BillFinder/Number.
This is a reminder that LJC plans to have a booth in the capitol on February 21st and again on February 26th. Some have responded and signed up already which is great, and we would be grateful if others wish to volunteer to help us with the project. If you are unable to volunteer for this project we have other volunteer opportunities throughout the year. If you are willing to help, contact Rick at [email protected] or call (505)832-4291.