New Mexico GOP leader again asks for referendum on background check bill

April 3, 2019

Republicans in the New Mexico House of Representatives are continuing a push to override a new law that will expand requirements for instant background checks on firearms purchasers.

On Tuesday, House Minority Leader Jim Townsend, R-Artesia, resubmitted a draft petition to the Secretary of State’s Office that seeks to give voters a chance to decide whether to repeal Senate Bill 8, which Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed into law, effective July 1.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver in March denied Townsend’s initial request to approve the petition, saying the state’s referendum process does not apply to “laws providing for the preservation of the public peace, health or safety.”

Those seeking a referendum would need to get 10 percent of voters in three-fourths of New Mexico’s 33 counties to sign a petition. The total number of signatures would have to equal at least 10 percent of the number of people who voted in the last election. That comes to about 70,000 valid signatures.

Townsend said Tuesday, “Neither the Secretary of State nor the Attorney General has the authority to unilaterally determine if a given piece of legislation meets the public peace, health and safety standard described in the New Mexico Constitution.”

The Secretary of State’s Office has ten days to respond to the new petition.