January 22, 2016

House driver's license bill clears committeeLas Cruces Sun News

A Republican-majority House committee approved a bill Thursday that would make New Mexico driver's licenses compliant with the federal Real ID Act and allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driving privilege card.

The bill, sponsored by Reps. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, and Andy Nuñez, R-Hatch, passed its first hurdle with a 4-3 vote in the House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee after a nearly three-hour debate. It now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.

Both supporters and opponents of the bill spoke passionately about its potential impact during the hearing. Republicans argued it will make licenses compliant with federal requirements and still allow undocumented immigrants to legally drive. Meanwhile, Democrats blamed Republicans for targeting undocumented immigrants while trying to use the pretext that they are simply trying to comply with federal regulations. -- 1/22/2016


New Mexico legislative session costs $5.4 millionLas Cruces Sun News

New Mexico lawmakers have approved funding for the ongoing 30-day legislative session with a slight increase in spending. The $5.4 million appropriations bill was approved unanimously Thursday by the House and Senate and awaits the governor’s signature.

The measure is known as the “feed bill” and traditionally is the first piece of legislation approved during annual legislative sessions. It increases spending by about 1 percent over the previous 30-day session in 2014. That includes salaries for staff and expenses for legislators. Legislators don’t receive an annual salary but are reimbursed for expenses. Last year’s 60-day session cost nearly $9.4 million. -- 1/22/2016


Legislative Roundup: Jan. 22Las Cruces Sun News

House Republicans closed ranks Thursday to advance one of their crime-and-punishment bills, a measure that would add 11 felonies to the "Three Strikes" law for imposing life prison sentences. All four Republicans on the House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee voted for the bill by Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque. The three Democrats on the panel voted against it.

Pacheco says the existing Three Strikes law doesn't adequately punish repeat offenders. So his bill would increase the number of crimes that would count as a "strike." They would include voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, aggravated arson and aggravated burglary. Pacheco's bill moves next to the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque, also has introduced a bill to add more crimes to the existing Three Strikes law. -- 1/22/2016