This week, the Legislature opened with two opposing bills: one to tighten New Mexico’s gun laws, and one to make federal gun control laws unenforced in the state.
Hearings began Monday afternoon in the House Judiciary Committee on House Bill 77, a gun control bill sponsored by Rep. Miguel Garcia (D-Albuquerque). The bill, also known as the Firearms Transfer Act, seeks to outline more precise standards for prohibiting certain individuals, such as drug addicts or convicted felons, from owning firearms. In addition, it would establish procedures for background checks, create a process for governing gun purchases made at gun shows and establish criminal penalties for violating these new regulations.
At Monday’s hearings, the Legislative Finance Committee released a fiscal impact report, which outlined concerns the committee had with the act. The report questioned whether the background check provisions were too strict, and said the language regarding where the background checks would come from was too vague.
This bill stands in direct contrast to HB 114, a bill sponsored by Rep. Nora Espinoza (R-Roswell).
Espinoza’s bill would penalize New Mexico firearms dealers and police who attempt to enforce federal firearm regulations within state borders, as well as federal officials who attempt to enforce the same regulations within state borders. Such enforcement would be considered a third degree felony under this bill.
The bill includes language to allow the New Mexico attorney general to defend New Mexico in the case of any legal action from the federal government for defying federal firearms regulations, and nullifies any federal firearms regulations within the borders of New Mexico created or effective on or after July 1 of this year.
HB 114 is set to be heard today in the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee. No fiscal impact report has been released for it.
In the Senate, Senate Bill 11, the State Graduate Employment Tax Credit bill introduced by Sens. Timothy Keller (D-Albuquerque) and James Smith (R-Sandia Park) passed through the Senate Corporations & Transportation Committee by a margin of one vote. It will be considered next in the Senate Finance Committee, date to be determined.
The bill would provide a $5,000 tax credit to New Mexico businesses and corporations per in-state graduate hired. They can claim the credit for two taxable years. However, the tax credits would only apply to master’s and doctoral students with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, and the credit would not be available if the newly hired graduate replaces or performs the job of a previous in-state graduate. Furthermore, the credits are capped at $2 million annually, which would cover 400 hires.