New Mexico lawmakers unveil first bills for 2018

December 16, 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico lawmakers began filing legislative proposals Friday for the upcoming legislative session that starts in January.

Anti-crime proposals and budgetary changes are expected to dominate the agenda during the 30-day legislative session that begins on Jan. 16.

Second-term Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is preparing for her final year in office and is expected to back public safety legislation and push other longstanding priorities such as tax reform.

The Democratic-led Legislature will be racing to extend an agreement that allows nurses licensed in New Mexico to work in participating states and vice versa.

New Mexico’s abbreviated legislative sessions in even-numbered years are focused on taxation and spending decisions. The governor has the authority to add other policy priorities to the agenda.

Martinez vowed in October to repeal and replace a constitutional amendment to overhaul the state’s bail system, but hasn’t discussed her plans further. The amendment was approved overwhelmingly by voters in 2016 to ensure defendants do not await trial in jail only because they cannot afford to post a bond, and also allows judges to deny release to defendants who are considered extremely dangerous.

Lawmakers have prepared a bill that would insert exceptions to new pretrial release rules, focusing on defendants accused of repeated drunken driving infractions.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has announced a bill to combat auto theft with a system for auto recyclers to verify that decommissioned vehicles have not been stolen. Democratic Reps. Howie Morales of Silver City and Patricio Ruiloba of Albuquerque are behind the effort, along with Republican Rep. Monica Youngblood of Albuquerque.

In other announcements, Democratic Sen. Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces plans to introduce legislation to spur the installation of solar panels on New Mexico state buildings in instances where it would reduce spending on electricity. A similar bill stalled this year.

Update hourly