New Mexico governor calls special session on public safety

New Mexico governor calls special session on public safety 10 p.m.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Wednesday she's bringing state lawmakers back to the Roundhouse in July.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Wednesday she’s bringing state lawmakers back to the Roundhouse in July. She made it clear the focus is on improving public safety here in New Mexico.

She told KOB 4 as soon as the legislative session ended that she wants lawmakers to revisit a bill reworking how the courts address competency.

That proposal would allow the courts to mandate some suspects into behavioral health treatments to make sure they are deemed competent to stand trial.

Supporters – like the Bernalillo County district attorney – say there are far too many suspects who are arrested, deemed incompetent to stand trial, and then released back on the streets only to commit more crimes.

It’s one version of the so-called “revolving door” that the governor clearly wants to close.

It appears that bill – which did not make it very far in the previous legislative session – is at the top of the special session agenda.

But a spokesperson previously revealed she also wants lawmakers to tackle a similar competency bill in civil situations. 

He says a bill targeting panhandling and raising the penalties for felons caught with firearms are also on the agenda.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate say they support efforts aimed at improving public safety in New Mexico. That includes the firearms penalty bill that we just mentioned. 

However, they question if a special session is enough time to really debate those issues and other ones they believe should be a priority.

“Anytime we get into the territory of crime prevention and addressing crime issues, there’s always contention within the Roundhouse. We have been unable in the past to settle those issues in 60 days, what makes us think that we’re going to be able to deal with that in just a few days?” said Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca. 

Republican leaders told us they believe border security also deserves attention during the special session. However, they criticized calling a special session so early in the first place.

The governor is calling lawmakers back to Santa Fe on July 18. That’s about three months from now and roughly five months before they will return for the 60-day session.

Republican leaders question if the governor’s public safety concerns are so pressing, why not call it now?

We know one hurdle for the governor is convincing lawmakers from her own party to approve her suggestions.

But what are Democrat leaders saying today? House Democrats say they expected this announcement.

They said, “We share the Governor’s commitment to ensuring all New Mexicans can feel safe in their homes and communities.”

They also noted it will be critical for lawmakers to thoroughly discuss these proposals ahead of time. So they don’t waste any time or taxpayer dollars.

Steve Pearce, the chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico, issued the following statement on the special session:

“When New Mexicans hear that Gov. Lujan Grisham is calling a special session to address public safety, a chill runs down their spines because her past actions prove that she is not interested in taking measures against criminals, but rather against law-abiding citizens.

The Democrats are totally to blame for New Mexico’s out-of-control crime. They need to explain why public safety wasn’t their priority during the previous legislative session despite holding a majority in both chambers of the state legislature.

During the last session, Republicans proposed several bills aimed at increasing penalties for multiple crimes, ending catch and release, and securing the border. Democrats killed every single one.

Recently, the Governor expressed her intention not to take additional measures to secure New Mexico’s Southern border, even if she were to call a special session. She cannot claim to care about public safety while ignoring the numerous problems stemming from our open border, including the rampant influx of fentanyl, alarming prevalence of human trafficking, and criminal cartel activity.

Despite this, the Governor is planning to spend hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans’ tax dollars to convene an additional session that could result in another waste of time or in law-abiding citizens’ rights being infringed upon.

For the sake of New Mexicans, I hope that the Governor will engage in meaningful conversations with Republicans and heed their advice on addressing the criminal issues plaguing our state to ensure that this special session will be productive.”

Mayor Tim Keller also posted on social media about the session:

“We thank @GovMLG for calling a special session on public safety. Gun violence continues to shatter our communities, and we must do more to turn the tide and keep our families safe. We are ready to seize the opportunity and work with our legislators to create a safer New Mexico.”