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Legislative roundup: Rec marijuana, crime

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Legislative roundup: Rec marijuana, crime

The New Mexican

Days remaining in session: 13

Recreational marijuana advances: Members of the Senate Rules Committee voted 4-3 Friday for a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana.

That decision keeps the measure alive, but it has little chance of making the November ballot.

Even the amendment’s sponsor, Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, has said his proposal lacks enough support to clear the full 112-member Legislature to qualify for a vote of the people.

Republican Sens. Mark Moores of Albuquerque and Cliff Pirtle of Roswell opposed the measure, Senate Joint Resolution 4. They said marijuana legalization does not belong in the state constitution.

Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, also voted against the proposal.

Four other Democrats supported it. They were Ortiz y Pino and Sens. Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces and Linda Lopez and Daniel Ivey-Soto, both of Albuquerque.

The measure would permit possession and personal use of marijuana for people who are at least 21 years old.

All in on crime: If the debate about crime has been marked by intractable debates about sentencing, bail reform and the death penalty, there was at least one package of public safety legislation that managed to pass the state House of Representatives by a wide margin — 66-1.

The bipartisan bills double the penalty for violent felons caught with a firearm while also ensuring that a long list of petty, nonviolent offenses such as littering or coasting are not punishable by jail time.

The measures also expand access to behavioral health services for jail inmates. This is similar to an initiative in Michigan credited with cutting recidivism rates. The package provides bonuses for some police officers. And it stiffens requirements that DWI offenders must satisfy before having an ignition interlock device removed from their vehicle.

Forty-six years: Rep. Nick Salazar, in his 46th and final year in the House of Representatives, was honored Friday during a ceremony on American Indian Day.

“Being recognized on the House floor is something that I will always cherish,” said Salazar, D-Ohkay Owingeh, who is retiring from office.

Members from the pueblos of Tesuque and Ohkay Owingeh presented Salazar with a colorful blanket.

Salazar is the most senior state legislator. His retirement will mean that Sen. John Pinto, D-Gallup, with 42 years’ service, will have the longest tenure of any sitting lawmaker.

Looking ahead: The House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee meets at 9 a.m. Saturday to consider a bill that would reinstate the death penalty for murders involving children and law enforcement or correctional officers. The committee will also consider a separate piece of legislation requiring that parents are notified at least 48 hours before a planned abortion is performed on a minor. The Senate Conservation Committee also meets at 9 a.m. on Senate Bill 47, which would allow Public Service Company of New Mexico to recover financial losses from closing the coal-burning San Juan Generating Station.

Quote of the day: “New Mexico is burning while we’re playing our fiddles up here.” — Sen. Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque, on a memorial calling on the state Supreme Court to repeal rules implementing bail reform. Many Republicans and Democrats have argued that bail reform has led to a spike in crime. The Legislative Finance Committee has compiled data, however, indicating the rise in crime began years earlier.

The New Mexican website:

Follow legislative coverage at www.santafenewmexica­n.com/news/legislatur­e

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Burkett Shaw
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