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Some Major Issues Didn't Make It Through Legislature, But Governor Doesn't Anticipate Calling A Special Session

House members work on the last day on the session on Saturday.
Kevin Meerschaert
House members work on the last day on the session on Saturday.

While New Mexico lawmakers say it was a productive legislative session that ended on Saturday, they are still disappointed that some major legislation didn’t get approved.

One of the big issues going into the session back in January was Legislative Modernization. It would have asked voters to extend the 30-day session to 60-days and allow state legislators to be paid.

None of the related bills could get past both houses.

House Speaker Javier Martinez says he was disappointed modernization couldn’t get through the legislature but he expects to bring it back soon.

“It’s work that we’re taking to the Interim (committee meetings). In fact I’ve already got my marching orders already from a couple of members who want to set up a subcommittee to start working on modernization, that’s one of them. I think paid family leave is another one that came up a little short,” he said. “I’ve been on the losing side on big bold changes whether it was cannabis legalization or the constitutional amendment for early childhood (education). Hopefully, paid family leave won’t take us ten years the way the early childhood constitutional amendment did. It’s a process and it’s good for us to be deliberate in these proceedings to ensure we pass the best possible policy.”     

Another bill that didn’t make it across the finish line was the 14-day waiting period to purchase a handgun. Both chambers passed their own versions which were slightly different but neither made it to the other side of Roundhouse. 
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says while not all her priorities were able to get through the just completed 2023 New Mexico Legislative Session, at this point, she sees no reason to call a special session later this year.

 She says public safety was a top priority which she addressed during her State of the State address in January. 

One main issue was Rebuttable Presumption which would have changed the way pre-trial bail would be granted in the state by requiring the defendant to show they wouldn’t be a danger if released before trial, as opposed to the burden being on the prosecution. The legislation was tabled in a Senate Committee.

Opponents questioned if it violated the State Constitution.

But other bills supported by the Governor did get passed regarding gun safety that did get passed.                  

Lujan Grisham signed the Bennie Hargrove Act to keep negligently stored firearms out of the hands of minors. She says she also strongly supports the bill on her desk to close the straw purchase loophole. She says safety will remain a priority.  

“New Mexicans should know that as long as I’m Governor, I’m going to keep trying to reduce to the highest degree, gun violence, violence in particular, improved public safety, improve the judicial system, which also means making sure we have the right investments in the Public Defenders’ Office and the DA’s (office),”  she said. “I think there is some more gun safety legislation that ought to make its way up but we are not a state that is looking at minimizing responsible gun owners to accessing and keeping their firearms.”                

Other gun bills Lujan Grisham supported that didn’t get to her desk included an assault weapons ban and the 14-day waiting period.     

The interim committees will begin work in a couple of months.