It would be downright criminal if the 2020 legislative clock runs out before lawmakers approve House Bill 6, a broad anti-crime bill, and send it to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for her signature.
Key provisions will stiffen criminal penalties for two categories of gun-related crimes – a response desperately needed in New Mexico, particularly in Albuquerque, which has a violent crime rate 3.7 times the national average and had a record 82 homicides last year.
The House passed the measure 59-9, and there doesn’t appear to be major opposition. But like making sausage, making law isn’t always pretty. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sunday objected to the bill rolling several separate proposals into one piece of legislation. They made several changes, including removing a section making it easier for police officers to receive medical treatment for post traumatic stress disorder because they felt that provision should be separate legislation.
The measure must now go to the Senate Finance Committee, and if approved there it would need to go back to the House of Representatives for concurrence or a conference committee on the changes. All that has to happen before noon Thursday when the session adjourns.
The proposal as it now stands would still allow for stiffer sentences for brandishing a firearm in the commission of a crime and being a felon in possession of a gun. “There’s been a lot of negotiations back and forth,” said Rep. Bill Rehm, an Albuquerque Republican and a co-sponsor. “I think we’re directing this at the actual violent felon who’s using a gun.” It has the governor’s support.