Attorney General King is asking the Governor to allow a number of important pieces of legislation onto the agenda for the upcoming legislative session. The list is comprised of bills that, for one reason or another, did not get heard or acted upon during the previous session. Here are a few of our proposals.
Under the category Ethics & Campaign Finance Reform, one of the bills for consideration is called “Electioneering Communications Contributions Disclosures,” previously HB 491. This bill creates campaign disclosure requirements for third parties that campaign for or against political candidates. Given recent U. S. Supreme Court decisions expanding the rights of corporations and others to engage in "electioneering", our laws should at least provide for full disclosure of where all the money is coming from.
Under the category of Civil-General Fund Recoveries; one bill addresses complicated tobacco settlement payments to the state and another deals with fraud against taxpayers. The bill we call the “Cigarette Stamp to Determine Escrow Payments,” previously SB 397, seeks to level the playing field for all cigarette manufacturers by requiring that they all pay their fair share of the health care costs their products cause in New Mexico. Representative Gail Chasey, who co-chairs the Tobacco Settlement Revenue Oversight Committee, has gone on record saying, “It is estimated that an additional $7.5 million annually would be available to the state under Senate Bill 397. That additional money could help a lot of New Mexicans who suffer from smoking related diseases.” A similar measure was vetoed last session by the Governor but we are encouraging her to reconsider this time around. And the “Fraud Against Taxpayers Act Revisions” bill, previously HB 314, amends current law to enable the Attorney General’s Office to expedite litigation in cases where the State has been defrauded.
Two of our Consumer Protection bills will be back for consideration by Legislators. The first is the Mortgage Fair Foreclosure Act, SB 1; Senator Michael Sanchez has once again agreed to sponsor our bill, which is an attempt to reform foreclosure procedures in New Mexico. The bill states, “The legislature finds it to be the public policy of New Mexico that homeowners should be given reasonable notice of the fact of and basis for an alleged default on their mortgage, apprised of all loss mitigation methods available to them in connection with their home loans prior to the loss of their home and afforded a meaningful opportunity to participate in loss mitigation to prevent the loss of homeownership.” UNM Professor Nathalie Martin has stated that in 2008, New Mexico was 36th in the nation for the number of foreclosures...now it is 11th in the nation. Currently, she says, one in every 452 Santa Fe homes and one in every 550 Albuquerque homes is in foreclosure, and about 15,000 cases are filed each year, about half in Albuquerque.
The bill we call “Regulations on Certain Loans,” previously SB 305, would address predatory lending practices involving small loans that continue to plague low income New Mexicans, many of whom are often victimized by exorbitant interest rates and never ending rollovers of their original small loan. These types of loans are clearly designed to circumvent current payday loan regulations.
Another bill creates alternatives for allowing criminal defense counsel to view child pornography without having to duplicate the images. The bill will also help protect victims of sexual exploitation from being re-victimized.
We are again pushing for the proposed “Local Option Liquor Tax”...an effort to address alcohol abuse by allowing all State counties to have the authority to ask voters to approve alcohol tax increases to pay for substance abuse programs. McKinley County, the only county granted the local option, has successfully used the voter-approved authority for 20 years to pay for alcohol abuse programs.
And we continue to advocate for legislation that allows minors to seek temporary restraining orders against boyfriends and girlfriends who engage in domestic violence against them.
Writing and proposing legislation designed to protect New Mexico families is a major priority for AG King’s administration and we will continue with our determination and tenacity to work for passage of these important legislative measures.