Monday’s Legislature Blog of the dayJanuary 21st, 2013 at 3:00 pm by Alex Goldsmith under N.M. Politics
It was a short, but sad holiday Monday at the Roundhouse.
Former Senate Majority leader Fabian Chavez died at 88 in Santa Fe on Sunday. Former state Senator Eric Griego’s brother, sister in law, and three of his nieces and nephews were killed over the weekend. Those two tragedies were acknowledged in both chambers, with both holding moments of silence in honor of Chavez and the shooting victims.
The Griego shooting may have also made gun control, already a hot topic in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, one of the top issues this session.
Three bills are already on the table dealing with guns. Rep. Miguel Garcia (D – Albuquerque) introduced HB 77, that would require background checks for weapons bought at gun shows or privately. Rep. Nora Espinoza (R – Roswell) is pushing HB 114, which would make it illegal for federal gun laws to be enforced in New Mexico. Rep. Zachary Cook (R – Ruidoso) is the sponsor of HB 137, a bill that seeks to loosen up state gun laws to allow concealed carrying in restaurants and liquor stores.
More proposals are likely to come as the session continues, and lawmakers find plans that could stand a change of getting past the Governor’s pen. The one area of clear common ground seems to be both sides’ verbal commitment to doing more about mental health problems in New Mexico. Increasing funding for gun safety education/training initiatives may also be an idea that catches on.
BILL OF THE DAY
This is a gay marriage constitutional amendment that’s been introduced by Rep. Brian Egolf (D – Santa Fe). It would require the state to issue marriage licenses.
Similar attempts at marriage equality proposals have not had much success in the legislature, but this one may stand a better chance for a couple of reasons.
One, the legislation includes an exemption that would allow churches or other religious institutions to not recognize, perform or host any marriage that conflicts with that institution’s religious views.
Two, because it’s a constitutional amendment it does not have to go through Governor Susana Martinez. Instead, if both Democratically-controlled chambers approved it, the amendment would go on the 2014 ballot.
HJR 03 has three House committees to clear, starting with the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee.