New Mexico legislative session roundup: 'Red flag laws' create a stir; rally planned
A red-flag bill is making its way through the State Senate with the support of Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Las Cruces Sun-News
Farmington-area legislators have introduced bills related to energy, property tax and education.
FARMINGTON — A bill introduced this week in the New Mexico House of Representatives has reignited the gun control debate that led to the Second Amendment Sanctuary County movement last year.
The legislative session began on Jan. 21. The 30-day session means many of the bills filed will not be discussed. The session is generally reserved for budget-related discussions, but the governor can add topics to the agenda.
One of the bills the governor has placed on the agenda is House Bill 7, the controversial Extreme Risk Protection Order. This measure is better known as a red flag law. This allows for a court order to remove guns from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.
A similar bill failed during the 2019 legislative session amid the Second Amendment Sanctuary County movement. Opponents say it infringes on due process and could result in guns being taken away from law-abiding citizens.
The group Pro-Gun Women is hosting a rally at 11 a.m. Jan. 31 at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe.
The Extreme Risk Protection Order was introduced in the House of Representatives on Jan. 22 and referred to the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee.
"We can no longer turn a blind eye to what is happening with violence in our country," Rep. Daymon Ely, D-Corrales, said in a press release. "Two-thirds of New Mexicans agree — we must take action to protect our kids, our families and our communities. This bill will give law enforcement and our courts an immediate, fast and certain procedure to protect our communities and save lives with due process built into the bill."
Ely is co-sponsoring the bill with Rep. Joy Garratt, D-Albuquerque.
"This is an important tool in preventing mass shootings and suicides," she said in the press release. "This law will save lives while ensuring due process for respondents, just as it has in states that have already taken this step. This in no way infringes upon the rights of law-abiding gun owners."
First bill to die: Electric, hybrid vehicle registration fees
The first bill to die this session was Senate Bill 20, which would have imposed additional fees to register electric or hybrid vehicles. These fees would be used to support road projects and is intended to replace some of the funds that the state receives from gasoline tax. The bill was tabled indefinitely, effectively killing it on Jan. 21.
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Bill Tallman, D-Albuquerque, and much of it is incorporated into Senate Bill 2, which the governor authorized to be discussed during the 30-day session. The bill aims to encourage electric vehicle ownership by providing an income tax credit. Tallman is a co-sponsor of SB 2.
Local legislators sponsor bills
Legislators representing districts either wholly in San Juan County or encompassing a portion of San Juan County have been working to get bills introduced. These bills include measures related to energy, property taxes and education.
Sen. Steve Neville, R-Farmington, introduced a bill with the governor’s backing that would allow industrial revenue bonds to be used to finance electrical transmission infrastructure.
Meanwhile, Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, and Rep. Harry Garcia, D-Grants, received the governor’s support for the Electric Generating Facility Economic District bill. Rep. D. Wonda Johnson, D-Rehoboth, Rep. Joseph Sanchez, D-Alcalde, and Rep. Eliseo Lee Alcon, D-Milan, are also listed as co-sponsors.
This bill is intended to help communities where a fossil fuel electric generating facility has closed or will be retired. Counties like San Juan County would be eligible to create an Electric Generating Facility Economic District if this bill passes.
The district would be governed by a board and would have economic tools like the ability to issue bonds and apply for financial assistance. This could help counties like San Juan County and McKinley County, where utilities have announced plans to retire coal-fired power plants.
And Sen. Benny Shendo, D-Jemez Pueblo, introduced a bill that would limit property tax valuation increases for low-income residents who have disabilities.
Rep. Derrick Lente, D-Sandia Pueblo, Rep. D. Wonda Johnson, D-Rehoboth, and Rep. Anthony Allison, D-Fruitland, have co-sponsored several bills related to Native American education that were pre-filed. Among these bills is the American Indian Student College Readiness Program, which was referred on Jan. 23 to the House Education Committee. The bill would create a statewide college readiness program for Native American students.
The deadline to introduce bills is Feb. 5 and the session ends at noon Feb. 20.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at email@example.com.
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