State roundup: Committees discuss justice bills, funding

Legislative session begins Jan. 15 in Santa Fe

The Daily Times staff

FARMINGTON — Legislators on various interim committees are learning about bills that likely will be discussed in the upcoming legislative session.

The Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee, the New Mexico Finance Authority Oversight Committee, the Legislative Council and the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee met last week in Santa Fe. The meetings and related handouts can be viewed at

Draft bills discussed by the Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee

The Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee met Tuesday in Santa Fe. Members discussed nearly a dozen pieces of potential legislation that the legislators likely will hear again during the legislative session that starts in January.

Among the legislation discussed were draft bills that would:

  • Allow a judge to order a person to relinquish firearms if deemed to be a threat to a petitioner such as a household member.
  • Ban the use of solitary confinement for juvenile inmates, pregnant women or inmates with severe mental illness.
  • Prohibit employers from asking about criminal convictions on job applications.

The committee also discussed ending the practice of taking away the voting rights of inmates convicted of felonies. Legislation has not been drafted, but state Rep. Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, plans to introduce the bill.

Committee hears about Water Trust Board

The New Mexico Finance Authority Oversight Committee heard from State Engineer Tom Blaine and Michael Vonderheide, the New Mexico Finance Authority director of water resources, on Monday about the 30 projects the Water Trust Board has recommended funding. These projects include $500,000 in San Juan County for watershed restoration.

The committee also has endorsed draft legislation that would allow county- or municipality-owned behavioral health facilities to access funding through the Behavioral Health Capital Fund. Money from the fund can be used to repair, renovate or construct a facility, purchase land or acquire equipment. Currently, only nonprofits are eligible to receive assistance through the fund.

Upcoming meetings

The Legislative Finance Committee will meet each day next week in Santa Fe and the Legislative Education Study Committee will meet Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in Santa Fe. Both meetings can be watched online at

Law makers can prefile legislation starting Dec. 17. The legislative session starts at noon Jan. 15.