January 18, 2016

Driver’s licenses, DWI penalties and ethics: A final look at House pre-filed legislation

Pre-filing of legislation ahead of the legislative session ended last Friday.

In all, the House introduced over 200 bills, memorials and joint resolutions.

Photo by Matthew Reichbach

Matthew Reichbach

Photo by Matthew Reichbach

We looked at the bills as of two weeks ago in both the House and Senate. Now, we take a final look at the House pre-filed legislation. A look at the Senate pre-filed legislation will come soon.

The pace slowed down since then, but here’s a look at the legislation that was pre-filed. Legislators can begin introducing legislation again when the session opens on Tuesday through Feb. 3.

HB 83: Increase Certain DWI Penalties by Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Albuquerque, and Rep. Rod Montoya, R-Farmington

The bill would expand penalties for those convicted of driving while intoxicated beyond a fourth time. A fourth offense would go from an 18 month sentence to 30 months, 18 of which could not be suspended or deferred. A fifth offense would go from two years to three years, a sixth offense from thirty months to 42 months and a seventh offense from three years to four years.

Any offense after that would come with a 12 year sentence, which would be a second degree felony.

HB 91: Background Check Reporting for Firearms by Rep. Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, and Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque

The bill would require the state to provide more information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, known as NICS, for firearm background checks. The bill would also create a process for those who aren’t allowed to own a firearm to petition the court to allow them to own a firearm.

HB 94: REAL ID Card by Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos, and Rep. Paul Bandy, R-Aztec

This is an attempt to thread the needle on the controversial issue of REAL ID and would allow New Mexicans to apply for an ID card that is compliant with the federal REAL ID Act. The bill also require noncompliant driver’s licenses to state that they are “not for federal purposes.”

HB 95: Hate Crimes Against Law Enforcement by Rep. Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, and Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque

Right now, the protected classes in the Hate Crimes Act are race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, age, handicapped status, gender and sexual orientation or gender identity. Any crime “motivated by hate” against that class would add one year to a sentence. This bill would add “status as a law enforcement officer” and change “handicapped status” to “disability.”

HB 96: No Pension for Convicted Public Officials by Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Santa Fe

Call it the Dianna Duran law. It basically says that if a public official is convicted of a “corruption offense” that they would no longer be eligible for pensions from the Public Employees Retirement Act.

HB 99: Driver’s License Issuance & Federal REAL ID by Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, and Rep. Andy Nunez, R-Hatch

This is the year’s version of the bill to change the state law that allows those in the state to get driver’s licenses. It would allow those not in the state to have “driver’s privilege cards” but would not allow them to have driver’s licenses. In the past, the House voted to repeal the law that allows those who cannot prove they are in the country legally from legally driving at all. HB 123 is the version put forward by Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque.

HB 105: Electronic Campaign Reporting by Rep. James Smith, R-Sandia Park

For as long as the state has been putting campaign finance reports, the website that holds them has been a mess. This seeks to change that and make the information more easily accessible to those who are interested. It would also allow for those to submit the “relevant data” “in an electronic format prescribed by the secretary of state.”

HB 124: Gubernatorial Inauguration Contributions by Rep. Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque

With questions swirling about inauguration money, here comes an attempt to formalize the process. It would require the money that is donated to gubernatorial inauguration committees to be public record, much like campaign donations. It would also cap donations at $2,000 per person and say any money that is left over would go to charity or to the governor’s resident preservation fund.

HB 125: Increase Minimum Wage by Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque

The statewide minimum wage has remained at $7.50 per hour since 2009. While some cities and counties have larger minimum wages, with Santa Fe’s among the highest in the nation, the rest of the state has remained at the $7.50 number. This bill would raise the statewide minimum wage to $10.10 by 2019, and index that with inflation. Increases would happen annually.

HB 127: School District Employee Background Checks by Rep. David Adkins, R-Albuquerque

Right now, those who work in schools and have done so since 2009 are not required to have a background check. This would require all employees to have a completed background check.

HB 130: State Crime Lab Employees for Rape Kits by Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Albuquerque

The legislation would appropriate $1.2 million for more employees to process unexamined rape kits.

HB 135: Lobbyist Employers & Reporting by Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces

Another attempt to expand what lobbyists must report. This bill would require more information from lobbyists on the funds they spend while lobbying. It would also require the information to go up within 48 hours of the filing on the Secretary of State’s website and 24 hours during any legislative session.

HB 143: Change Dates for Certain Elections by Rep. Paul Bandy, R-Aztec

No one votes in elections for school boards around the state. Well, some people do, but the turnout is generally extremely low. That’s because the elections are currently held in the “first Tuesday of each odd-numbered year.” Bandy’s bill would change this to “the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of each odd-numbered year.” That would put it more in line with bigger elections (though obviously in an odd-numbered year).

HB 148: Industrial Hemp Research by Rep. Bealquin “Bill” Gomez, D-La Mesa

The efforts by Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, to allow research into the growth of hemp went down via the veto pen last year. He’s coming back again with the legislation, and so is Gomez.

HB 153: Criminal Justice Clearinghouse by Rep. Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque

The bill would put $700,000 towards a “criminal justice clearinghouse.” The bill doesn’t specify, but a press release when the bill was pre-filed says that it would centralize six different criminal databases, which Gentry says will give judges “real-time information on the defendants who come before them.”

HB 154: Increase Minimum Wage by Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, D-Albuquerque

Here is a bill that would increase the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour by 2017. It would then increase with inflation annually, “to the nearest multiple of five cents” annually. The bill also eliminates the $2.13 minimum wage for tipped employees.

HB 155: Public Corruption Act by Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Santa Fe

A tough on crime piece of legislation that targets public officials. Or at least the ones convicted of corruption. The bill would add penalties for fraud, embezzlement, extortion, forgery and other crimes of corruption when committed by a public official.

HB 170: Study Broadband Infrastructure Expansion by Rep. Larry Larranaga, R-Albuquerque, and Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque

This would put $950,000 in funding towards studying many aspects of both public and private options of a statewide broadband infrastructure plan. The priority would look at “high-priority, underserved rural areas.”

HB 171: Law Enforcement Officers Returning to Work by Rep. Larry Larranaga, R-Albuquerque, and Stuart Ingle, R-Portales

Another bill that will be a big priority for Republicans this session. This one would allow double-dipping for law-enforcement officers if they return to work. Basically, any police officer who retired before the end of 205 could come back and work without having to give up their pension while they’re working. This is an effort to fight against the shortage of officers.

HB 172: Move and Audit Governor’s Contingency Fund by Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe

It’s not often you see a bill introduced essentially in response to a loud party in a hotel room. This bill would create a “Governor’s contingency fund” in the state treasury that is administered directly by the governor’s office. The fund would be subject to the state Audit Act and Procurement Code.

HB 173: Web-Based Capital Outlay Publication by Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe

Largely in response to work done by New Mexico In Depth, this bill would require “a list of capital projects and the names of the legislators and or the governor” who requested the allocation of capital outlay funds. The list would be published “with twenty-four hours after the governor has acted on the capital outlay bill.” The list would be put online.

HJR 1: Independent Redistricting Commission, CA by Rep. Carl Trujillo, D-Santa Fe

In the last two redistricting special sessions, the Legislature passed redistricting maps that were vetoed by the governor. So in the last two cases of redistricting, a judge drew the maps themselves. This would take the Legislature and Governor out of the process and instead put it in the hands of an independent redistricting commission. A U.S. Supreme Court decision last year made clear that this is constitutionally allowed. Since it would change the state constitution, it would go to the voters if the House and Senate were to pass it.

HJR 3: Salary for State Legislators, CA by Rep. Terry McMillan, R-Las Cruces

As you likely know by now, New Mexico is the only state that does not give legislators a salary (though New Hampshire legislators earn a token $200 per term). McMillan’s bill would ask voters to approve a constitutional amendment to provide a salary for legislators “equal to the median household income in New Mexico for the most recent calendar year as determined by the United States census bureau.” As an aside, California legislators make $97,197 per year PLUS a $168-a-day per diem when they are in session. That’s the highest legislative salary in the country.

HJR 5: Independent Ethics Commission, CA by Rep. Jim Dines, R-Albuquerque

While legislators have been fighting to create an independent ethics commission, Dines decided that it should go straight to the voters. He is proposing a constitutional amendment to create an independent ethics commission, which would not go to the governor’s desk.

HJR 10: Permanent Funds for Early Childhood Education by Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque

Increasing funding for early childhood education through tapping a portion of the land grant permanent fund has been a priority for many Democrats in the state for years. This is another attempt to ask voters to do just that. Getting the constitutional amendment to the voters, however, would be a tough battle.