Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Tuesday she will put gun legislation that would allow for “extreme risk protection orders” on her agenda for the upcoming 30-day session, adding she sees a “clearer path” to its approval in the Senate than a similar bill had last year.
In addition to that legislation, which would let law enforcement obtain a court order to remove guns from people considered dangerous, Lujan Grisham said a bill to legalize recreational cannabis and other crime-related proposals will definitely be on her agenda, while an abortion measure is less likely to make it to the call.
The extreme risk protection orders bill, which is also sometimes referred to as “red-flag” legislation, first will be introduced in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, Lujan Grisham said. A similar bill in the House will be sponsored by Reps. Daymon Ely, D-Corrales, and Joy Garratt, D-Albuquerque. The governor planned to announce the legislation Wednesday at an event in Las Cruces.
“While I can’t guarantee that it passes the Senate, we have a much clearer path this time,” Lujan Grisham said in an interview Tuesday. “And so I’m very hopeful.”
The proposal has been a contentious one, at least among some legislators and many of New Mexico’s sheriffs.
After a similar bill cleared the House last year but wasn’t taken up by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Governor’s Office and legislators met with the New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association, which opposed the bill, in a bid to work together on new legislation. But those talks stalled and Ely called the sheriffs’ feedback “unworkable.”
Lujan Grisham said Tuesday that she expects the Sheriffs’ Association will oppose the new legislation as well, but she also said legislators made some modifications to more narrowly define issues of implementation and due process, which had been a major sticking point with the sheriffs.
In particular, the bill will propose an evidentiary hearing process that would aim to ensure an initial request for a protection order isn’t “unfounded or premature.” It would seek to prevent people from being unfairly denied access to firearms, she said.
“That’s been the biggest debate, and that’s been the complaint of law enforcement,” Lujan Grisham said.
In confirming that she will put both the gun and cannabis bills on the agenda, the governor affirmed she will push for nonbudgetary bills, some of which have encountered heavy resistance in past 30-day sessions, which typically prioritize budgetary matters.
The Governor’s Office also confirmed proposals to create an Opportunity Scholarship for higher education and a new permanent fund for early childhood education will be on Lujan Grisham’s call.
When comparing the extreme risk protection and cannabis bills, the governor said she believes the former has a clearer path to approval. She called the prospects for a cannabis bill a “heavy lift.”
“I’m going to fight hard to get it over the finish line,” Lujan Grisham said about a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana, “but the path is not as clear in the Senate as it is for the extreme risk protection bill.”
Last year, the governor assembled a policy advisory panel to study the legalization of recreational cannabis. The group issued a report in October that recommended expunging marijuana possession convictions and outlined policy advice on labeling, testing, licensing fees, taxes and funding law enforcement with marijuana revenue.
Regarding an effort to repeal an old New Mexico law that makes it a crime to perform an abortion, the governor said she wasn’t sure it would be on the agenda for the 2020 session, which begins Jan. 21. The measure was defeated in the Senate last year, as eight Democrats voted against it.
“This debate, like so many political debates, has gotten so divisive and so not based on fact at all, that in 30 days managing that message gets incredibly difficult,” she said.
Still, the governor promised to pass it during her time in office.
“I said that I will get that done, and I will get that done,” Lujan Grisham said. “I don’t know about this year.”
In addition to the extreme risk protection orders bill, Lujan Grisham plans to put a package of crime-related bills on the agenda that would also include extending penalties for using a firearm in the course of a felony.
The package also will include a proposal to add 60 new state police officers, which is part of the governor’s 2021 budget recommendation.