“Friendly” Amendment

February 18th, 2013 at 6:19 pm by under Latest Posts, Politics

Every bill brought forward in Santa Fe starts with an idea, an intention that lawmaker had to mold state policy or spending.

But often times in the Roundhouse, that bill gets amended to the point that its effectiveness is significantly watered down or what it does is changed altogether.

The best example so far this session may be HB 77, the Firearms Transfer Act. It started as an attempt to get the state to regulate gun show and private sales. After it went through the wringer of House Judiciary, the amended version left regulation in federal hands, exempted antiques and featured a strong mental health component. The major similarity between the original and what passed was that gun show background checks are required in both.

There were two striking examples today, both in the House.

One is the bill many in Santa Fe were talking about Monday, HB 63, Rep. Yvette Herrell’s, R-Alamogordo, attempt to ban counties and municipalities from passing breed-specific laws, including pit bull bans.

Under her original proposal, Tijeras and Elephant Butte’s current breed-specific laws would be invalidated and the ban of bans would apply to every county and municipality in New Mexico.

But House Judiciary went to work on the bill once again. Under the amended bill the House passed 48-14 Monday afternoon, breed-specific laws passed before July would remain valid and home rule municipalities would be exempted.

The second part of that is important because it creates a big loophole. It means the bill wouldn’t apply to just about every major city in the state. Here’s a list of home rule municipalities in New Mexico: Albuquerque, Alamogordo, Clovis, Gallup, Grants, Hobbs, Las Cruces, Las Vegas, Los Alamos, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe.

Another big amendment was used to try and save one stalled bill by attaching it to another that was set to clear the House Monday.

HB 349 is freshman Rep. Liz Thomson’s, D-Albuquerque, attempt to keep drivers with ignition interlocks from getting that interlock removed if the driver attempts to drive drunk again.

On the floor, Rep. Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, proposed a big amendment that would tack on HB 32, Rep. Tim Lewis’ proposal to sharply increase penalties for repeat drunk drivers.

The bill had stalled in committee very early this session and looked like it was going to fade away like hundreds of other bills do each year.

Not anymore. The amendment had the effect of reviving HB 32 at the cost of slowing down HB 349 because both bills were sent to (you guessed it) House Judiciary.

These examples aren’t exceptions. They’re the rule because it seems like a bill rarely makes it through the Roundhouse untouched.

Bill of the Day

HB 578

Rep. Stephen Easley, D-Santa Fe, may be public enemy number one with the pro-gun crowd in New Mexico these days.

In addition to introducing a statewide assault weapons ban earlier this session, Easley is now looking at adding a rule you may or may not be surprised isn’t on the books.

HB 578 would ban guns in the Roundhouse for everyone but police, capitol security, active duty military, the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor.

Easley’s proposal is waiting for a hearing in House Rules.

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