Sat. Mar 28th, 2020

Gun control wins, marijuana loses at New Mexico Legislature

SANTA FE (AP)- A 30-day legislative session in New Mexico has produced bills that bolster restrictions on firearms, underwrite college tuition, shore up a pension fund for government workers and expand state oversight of vaping and e-cigarette sales. But a bid to legalize recreational marijuana sales fell flat.

Final decisions on the proposals and a $7.6 billion annual budget that includes an increase of nearly 8 percent in state spending are now in the hands of Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

According to the associated press, major initiatives introduced at the Legislature:

RED-FLAG LAW

Under a red-flag gun bill, state district courts will get the power to order the surrender of firearms from people deemed to pose a danger to themselves or others. Relatives, employers, and school administrators can alert authorities when they suspect gun owners are in crisis.

As she prepares to sign the bill, Lujan Grisham has reminded law enforcement about their new obligation to use the extreme risk firearms protection orders. Dozens of county sheriffs opposed the bill on constitutional grounds, while supporters said new tools are needed to prevent gun violence.

Lawmakers endorsed enhanced penalties for gun possession by felons but failed to pass a counter-terrorism bill that would have given prosecutors new authority to investigate and sanction threats or acts of mass violence at public venues.

MARIJUANA

New Mexico’s bid to become the 12th U.S. state to legalize recreational use of marijuana abruptly faltered this year without a floor vote. The proposal would have authorized marijuana sales in all of the state’s cities, towns, and counties.

The Legislature heeded the governor’s call to close a loophole that would have allowed nonresidents to enroll as patients in the state’s medical-marijuana program.

The House never voted on a Senate-endorsed bill to make it easier for Native American communities to implement medical cannabis programs without running afoul of federal law.