Senate Passes Amended Budget Round Up From The Roundhouse from Monday,  from the New Mexico House Republican Caucus:

House Passes REAL ID Fix

Santa Fe, NM – The House of Representatives approved House Bill 99, bipartisan legislation to bring New Mexico into compliance with the REAL ID Act and end the practice of giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.  By a vote of 65 to 1, the House agreed to concur with the bill as amended and passed by the Senate on Saturday.  It now moves to the Governor’s office for her signature.

“This bill is a good compromise.  It gives New Mexicans a secure and REAL ID compliant driver’s license. It stops giving illegal immigrants New Mexico driver’s licenses, but it allows them to continue driving with a driver’s authorization card,” said Rep. Paul Pacheco, the bill’s sponsor. “A lot of hard work went into developing this compromise, and I’m glad we can finally get this done for New Mexico.”

“After years of working on this issue, I’m proud to support this compromise legislation to end the practice of giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants,” Rep. Andy Nuñez, the bill’s cosponsor, said.  “The important safety measures included in this legislation will protect the public and enhance national security. I look forward to seeing Governor Martinez sign this bill into law.”

We also have this word from the Senate, go here:  Senate Passes Amended Budget

House Unanimously Passes Bipartisan Bail Bond Reform Compromise

Santa Fe, NM – Today, SJR 1, a compromise on bail bond reform, unanimously passed the House of Representatives. The compromise resolution marks a major step forward for criminal justice reform and will grant judges the authority to deny bail to violent offenders, as well as protect non-violent offenders who are not a flight risk from being imprisoned solely because of an inability to afford the cost of bail.

The compromise legislation was developed by House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, Reps. David Adkins and Antonio “Moe” Maestas, along with Sen. Peter Wirth.

“I’m glad to see this important legislation pass the House with unanimous support,” Gentry said. “SJR 1 will keep violent defendants off the streets while they’re awaiting trial, protecting our families and loved ones from proven threats to public safety. Additionally, the legislation will make sure that non-violent offenders are not unfairly put behind bars for being too poor to afford bail, helping reduce costs for counties and municipalities.”

“This compromise helps to balance the scales of justice,” said Adkins. “By both strengthening protections against violent crime and also showing compassion for those unfairly punished for their poverty, this legislation is a meaningful and serious reform to our criminal justice system in New Mexico. It also ensures that a necessary service remains available for those who need it.”

Under current law, judges are required to grant reasonable bail to every defendant, even the most dangerous defendants who pose a known risk to the community. The compromise legislation will allow non-violent defendants who are not a flight risk to petition the court for relief if they cannot afford bail.

Currently, 38 percent of inmates in the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Metro Detention Center (MDC) are there solely because they cannot afford bail. Given that it costs $125 per day to house an inmate, the MDC is spending $64,125 per day on these defendants as they await trial. According to officials, 11 percent of those inmates cannot afford to post bonds as low as $100.

The bill now heads back to the Senate for concurrence.

House Unanimously Passes Bill Providing Parental Visitation Rights to Adult Children

Santa Fe, NM – House Bill 120, sponsored by Rep. Conrad James, unanimously passed the House of Representatives tonight. The legislation would ensure that adult children have the right to visit their elderly and ill parents even if they are under the care of another person.

“This bill will support the visitation rights of adult children with ailing parents, and I’m encouraged by its passage,” James said. “We need to take this step to clarify the law and protect the rights of children to maintain a relationship with their parents in their final days.”

This bill creates a civil proceeding within the existing statute for an adult child to petition a court for visitation with an elderly parent who does not live with the adult child, while balancing the interests of the adult child and of the elderly parent.

The legislation was inspired by the case of Kerri Kasem, who was unable to visit her father, radio personality Casey Kasem, after he was moved from California to a nursing home in Nevada and then Washington without his children being notified or providing consent. Kasem has been working with legislatures across the country to pass legislation like HB 120 to prevent situations like hers from happening to anyone else. Similar bills have been passed into law in California, Texas and Iowa.

“I appreciate the efforts of the Kasem Cares Foundation and all the advocates who have worked tirelessly on this important piece of legislation,” James said. “This is a courageous step towards providing the relief that frustrated family members deserve under these difficult circumstances.”

Capital Outlay Bill Passes House Floor

Santa Fe, NM – Today, the House unanimously passed HB 219, a bipartisan capital outlay bill funding pubic projects in New Mexico, helping to build critical infrastructure and provide jobs across the state.  The bill is sponsored by Reps. Jason Harper and Tim Lewis.

“I’m glad that the House has passed this important legislation today to address critical shortages in infrastructure across the state, and I urge the Senate to quickly act on this legislation and send this bill to the Governor,” said Harper. “We’ve invested more than $160 million in infrastructure projects including $84 million for hospitals, prisons and state police facilities, as well as other state-owned buildings statewide.”

In addition, the bill provides $82 million for local projects like roads, water access, parks, health and public safety facilities and cultural facilities.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.



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