Alibi V.27 No.7 • Feb 15-21, 2018 

Newscity

The News Monkey

As the New Mexico 2018 legislative session comes to an end, let's review some of the more notable bills that are advancing toward realization as law.

Anti-Crime Bill

HB 19 is legislation that will increase penalties for violent felons caught with a firearm, provide mental health and addiction treatment to inmates, tighten alcohol testing requirement for those with an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle, provide retention bonuses to veteran law enforcement officers and reclassify some nonviolent offenses. The bill has received bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

Removal of Statute of Limitations

Receiving unanimous approval in the House, HB 33—a proposal to remove the statute of limitations for second-degree murder prosecutions—could make it so that prosecutors in New Mexico will be free to pursue convictions for cold murder cases. Currently, this is the only state in the nation that applies a statute of limitations on second degree murder.

State Budget

On Jan. 31, the House approved a budget that would amount to about $6.3 billion and leave reserves around 10 percent. When the proposed budget crossed the Senate floor, the Senate Finance Committee also increased House approved pay raises for state employees, teachers, law enforcement officers, corrections officers and judges.

Spaceport Privacy

A bill that will allow Spaceport to keep more of its information private, SB 98, received guarded support. Even some who voted in favor of the bill expressed concern that it might work against maintaining transparency in government. However, most agreed that keeping certain trade secrets confidential is essential for Spaceport's success in the industry.

Lottery

If signed, HB 147 will remove a requirement that the state lottery put at least 30 percent of gross sales into higher education scholarships, an attempt to raise lottery sales by allowing for higher prize amounts. Lottery officials claimed the removal of the mandate would allow more funds to be raised for the Legislative Lottery Scholarship in the long run. The bill was highly controversial, however, meeting heavy opposition and numerous amendments along the way.

School Security

The House and Senate both approved bills that set aside millions of dollars of the budget to improve school security in the wake of a nationwide epidemic of school shootings. HB 130 earmarks $5 million a year for 5 years for security efforts, and SB 239 puts aside $10 million a year for 4 years. The funds will be used for door locks, surveillance cameras, communications systems, perimeter gates, fencing, campus checkpoints, intercoms and vestibules.

Child Abuse Penalty Expansion

A bill which would expand the penalties[xurl] associated with New Mexico’s “Baby Brianna’s Law”—a law that addresses intentional child abuse resulting in death—met with bipartisan approval. HB 100 will extend age limitations outlined by “Baby Brianna’s Law” and require life sentences for those who kill teenagers between the ages of 12 and 18 as a result of child abuse. Opponents of the bill voiced concerns with how the law will affect cases of teen-on-teen crime.

Election Consolidation

The city of Albuquerque opposed a bill that received mostly bipartisan support. HB 98 will consolidate many different state elections into a single day in November. Albuquerque city officials were against the move because it conflicts with parts of the city charter. The new rules will require municipalities opting out of the consolidated election to hold their own elections in March of even years. Albuquerque currently holds its elections in October of odd years. Nevertheless, supporters of the bill, who say it will make it easier for voters to take part in elections, managed to push it through.