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Thursday, April 07, 2011

Susana Martinez Vetoes Rep. Maestas' Bill Strengthening Sex Offender Registration Law

I wonder what's going on in the brain of Republican Governor Susana Martinez. During her years as a District Attorney in Dona Ana County, Martinez carefully sought to build a reputation as a tough, gun-toting "law and order" type known for her lock 'em up and throw away the key attitude. However, in an odd move, she just vetoed House Bill 298, a measure designed to strengthen New Mexico's Sex Offender Registration and Notifcation Act (SORNA).

In what HB 298's sponsor, Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas (D-Albuquerque), is calling "a shocking and blatantly political move," Martinez today vetoed the legislation, which would have closed loopholes and made our streets safer. HB 298 would have required sex offenders to provide law enforcement with more information than is currently required, and added the crime of Child Solicitation by Electronic Communications Device to the list of offenses requiring sex offender registration.

In vetoing the bill, Martinez nixed the judgment of virtually the entire legislature, Republicans and Democrats alike. The measure unanimously passed both the New Mexico House (70-0) and Senate (32-0) during the 2011 Regular Session.

"Anyone with a foreign conviction of sexual assault can still lurk the streets of New Mexico without any supervision," said Representative Maestas. "People who entice our children on-line can still take advantage of a legal loophole and avoid having to register. Vitally needed law enforcement tools to track sex offenders on social networking sites did not become law due to petty politics, but Governor Martinez has made her choice clear-- politics over our children's safety."

"It's unfortunate and quite disappointing that the Governor of our great state doesn’t have the first clue how the legislative process works. Her entire team simply lacks the skill set to craft good laws for the people of New Mexico. Perhaps no one informed the Governor that bills can be amended to address any concerns before even reaching her desk, and that laws can be improved each session," added Representative Maestas.

According to Rep. Maestas, House Bill 298 would have made the following changes had it not been vetoed by the Governor:

  • Closed a loophole in current law by requiring those with foreign sex offender convictions to register as a registered sex offender;
  • Closed a loophole in present law that, regardless of a person's age, both kidnapping and false imprisonment offenses would require registration if there is intent to inflict a sex crime (under current law one only has to register if the victim is under 18);
  • Closed a loophole in current law by creating a new definition for “habitually lives” that would require registration of other addresses where a sex offender spends time;
  • Strengthened SORNA by requiring registrants to provide substantially more information than currently required;
  • Closed a major loophole in current law by adding the crime of Child Solicitation by Electronic Communications Device to New Mexico’s list of offenses requiring sex offender registration.
  • Strengthened SORNA by creating a definition of “Social Networking Website” and requiring that sex offenders disclose identifiers and monikers used on such websites;
  • Streamlined the annual and quarterly address verification process for all registrants, thus saving the local law enforcement time and resources.

April 7, 2011 at 02:23 PM in Crime, Law Enforcement, NM Legislature 2011, Susana Martinez | Permalink

Comments

Stung by the criticism that she continues to act like a prosecutor and does not know the role of Governor, Susana said, "See, I do too know something about being a Governor; watch me use my Veto! Nanny nanny boo boo. Also."

Posted by: bg | Apr 7, 2011 3:54:34 PM

The Governatrix vetoes bill sponsored by Democrats she dislikes. What an imbecile!

Posted by: Proud Democrat | Apr 7, 2011 7:17:40 PM

What kind of operation does Susana have going? Why would ALL the Republicans in the legislature vote for a bill only to have Martinez veto it? Why weren't her legislative "experts" Keith Gardner and Brian Moore negotiating on her behalf as the bill went through the Roundhouse? Just now she decides she doesn't like it? What a whack job.

Posted by: Church Mouse | Apr 7, 2011 7:24:19 PM

Measured against governors in Arizona and Texas, Martinez is on track to be outstanding as being among the worst of the worst.

Basically, she was elected because her barely controllable existential anger about everything resonated on an emotional level.

That is still all she's got.

Posted by: Stuart Heady | Apr 8, 2011 8:58:51 AM

Why the veto? The article said it was for political reasons? Why political? Who is she trying to please with the veto? Could the reason have been that it would cost too much? Was there an idealogical reason such that sex offenders are already paying enough of a price for their infraction? Usually there is something to analyze about a topic as important as this.

Posted by: qofdisks | Apr 8, 2011 3:20:54 PM

She vetoed 3 of Moe's bill in 2 days. He was very outspoken during the session. That's my guess,. This bill had tightened requirements on some things, and some adjustments on others she didn't appear to like. Very odd considering its unanimous passage thru both houses. Why wouldn't she have brought up her problems with the bill while it was moving through the legislature?

It couldn't be cost - the fiscal impact report says it would cost $90,000 over the next 3 years. http://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/11%20Regular/firs/HB0298.pdf (also analyzes other aspects of bill).

The bill went thru several revisions as it passed thru the legislature so there were plenty of opportunities for Martinez staffers to weigh in.

AG King was also involved in this and, remember, there is talk about him running for governor in 2012.

Here are the reasons she gave for the veto:

http://www.governor.state.nm.us/uploads/FileLinks/7bbb779a53dd4071933247333d38f22c/HouseExecutiveMessage26.pdf

Posted by: barb | Apr 8, 2011 3:44:43 PM

Thanks Barb.

Posted by: qofdisks | Apr 8, 2011 5:31:19 PM