SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – In the final hours of the 2022 legislative session, it is down to the wire. While lawmakers pushed some big-ticket items through, others may have a tough time making it through before Thursday’s deadline.
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It’s going to be a late night at the state capitol as both the House and Senate continue debating bills. For much of this session, all eyes were on bills set to tackle crime in the state, especially as it surges in the metro, and it’s still being discussed on the Senate floor as of just minutes ago.
“Normally, crime is something we would tackle in a 60-day legislative session, but we’ve known this is a really important issue, not only for Albuquerque but statewide,” said Rep. Meredith Dixon.
Just in the past couple of days, the slew of crime-related bills making it through various committees were combined into one larger bill with the hopes of getting legislation passed quicker. Items now included in the omnibus include GPS monitoring for criminals out on pretrial release, protecting judges and their families from threats, increasing benefits and retention for officers, and making chop shops and metal theft a crime.
Earlier Wednesday evening, a committee added a measure banning the “Gay Panic Defense” that means a defendant cannot justify violence in a case by claiming they were propositioned by someone who is gay, bisexual, or transgender.
Wednesday evening, the state Senate began hearing the revised crime package which will still need a final vote from the state House.
Another hot topic this session getting combined into an omnibus is the election bill. Besides voters rights provisions like restoring felons’ rights upon release, allowing all voters an absentee ballot, and allowing 17-year-olds to vote in local elections, the combined bill also includes bipartisan measures like training for poll watchers and making a crime of intimidation in elections.
It passed a House committee Tuesday night, but in order to make it to the governor’s desk, it still would need to be heard by the House Wednesday night or Thursday and go back to the Senate for a final vote.
One bill that did make it through in the nick of time though, was the state’s nearly $8.5 billion budget. The state budget includes raises for educators and state police, funding for regulation and licensing in the Cannabis Control Division, and housing programs for the homeless.
It’s unclear if the governor will call a special session if some of these big-ticket bills don’t make it through in time, but some representatives say it’s definitely possible. The session officially wraps at noon on Thursday and any bills not passed by that deadline will not make it to the governor for a signature.