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Monday, December 22, 2014

Second week of the 2013 New Mexico Legislative Session closes with evidence tampering bill controversy, successful passage of UNM HCS funding bill through Senate Public Affairs Committee

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New Mexico State Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R-Carlsbad) is backing down from her bill introduced Wednesday that would make an abortion after rape or incest an instance of tampering with evidence.

House Bill 206, entitled “Abortion as evidence tampering in some cases,” stated “(t)ampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of a criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime.”

The bill was considered an amendment to a pre-existing New Mexico statute that defines criminal tampering of evidence and lists criminal penalties in different degrees for such tampering.

Because criminal sexual penetration in any degree is considered a felony under the New Mexico Criminal Statutes, and as is incest, a woman having an abortion after either crime would be guilty of committing a felony offence for tampering with evidence under the proposed amended provisions regarding evidence tampering.

However, according to a statement Brown released yesterday, “House Bill 206 was never intended to punish or criminalise rape victims.

Its intent is solely to deter rape and cases of incest. The rapist, not the victim, would be charged with tampering of evidence. I am submitting a substitute draft to make the intent of the legislation abundantly clear.”

In other House news, HB 28, the bill proposing the expansion of Lottery Scholarship eligibility to students at tribal colleges, is now scheduled to be heard in the House Health, Government & Indian Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

In the Senate, a bill sponsored by Sen. Gay Kernan (R-Hobbs), which aims to procure an additional $565,100 for the UNM Health Sciences Center, passed through the Senate Public Affairs Committee on Thursday. It will next be considered in the Senate Finance Committee, and the date is to be determined.

Senate Bill 123 would provide additional funds to pay for “…transport of autopsy subjects home (from Albuquerque) and to pay for utilities at the office of the state medical investigator.”

According to the bill, the funds would be appropriated from the state’s General Fund and be transferred to the UNM Board of Regents for that express purpose. Any leftover funds would be re-deposited into the General Fund by July 2015.

According to a Fiscal Impact Report on SB 123 the Legislative Finance Committee released yesterday, these funds would be added to the annual recurring funding already in place for the Office of Medical Investigator. The utilities costs these funds would cover are those incurred from the OMI’s move to a larger facility with additional equipment and safety precautions in fiscal year 2011.

10 noteworthy UNM-related House and Senate bills to watch hearing schedules to be determined. Stick with the Daily Lobo for future coverage!

HB 26 — UNM Land Grant Studies Program: seeks to appropriate $117,500 to the UNM Board of Regents to develop a land grant studies program for UNM, which would focus on the practical applications of agriculture, science, military science and engineering in accordance with the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890

HB 27 — Expand Lottery Scholarship Eligibility: seeks to expand Lottery Scholarship eligibility to students who are accepted into a New Mexico university or college within two years of high school graduation or of receiving a GED, or within two years of being honorably or medically discharged from the U.S. armed forces. Currently, Lottery Scholarship eligibility is restricted to students who are accepted into a New Mexico university or college immediately after high school graduation or after receiving a GED, or within 120 days of receiving an honorable or medical discharge from the U.S. armed forces.

HB 71 — UNM-Gallup as a Community College: seeks to conduct a Higher Education Department feasibility study into whether UNM’s Gallup campus should become an independent community college, or be attached to a different parent institution, following a successful evaluation and agreement of the UNM Gallup Advisory Board.

HB 80 — UNM Dental Science Program: seeks to appropriate $400,000 to the UNM Health Sciences Center to establish a Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Dental Science program.

HB 228 — UNM Law School Southwest Indian Law Clinic: seeks to appropriate $203,900 to the UNM Board of Regents for the Southwest Indian Law Clinic at the UNM School of Law.

SB 11 — State Graduate Employment Tax Credit: seeks to create a tax credit for local businesses that hire graduate and professional students once they’ve completed their degree at an in-state university or college.

SB 55 — UNM Architecture School Community Outreach: seeks to appropriate $100,000 to the UNM Board of Regents to “expand the community outreach activities of the Design and Planning Assistance Center at the School of Architecture and Planning.” The bill does not say what community outreach expansion would entail.

SB 66 — Create Office of Peace: seeks to create an Office of Peace “dedicated to peacemaking, social justice and human rights; training that will enable prevention, management and resolution of conflict without violence; and the study and implementation of appropriate educational curricula … that are conducive to a culture of peace.” The office would have an 11-member council and a director, including a member of UNM’s Peace Studies program to represent UNM.

SB 78 — UNM Family-Friendly Workplace Task Force: seeks to appropriate $75,000 to the UNM Board of Regents to create “a Family-Friendly Workplace task force and awards program” through UNM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research. The specifics of the task force and the awards program were not discussed in the bill.

SB 243 — State University Educational Television: seeks to appropriate three $100,000 funding packages for educational television stations at UNM, New Mexico State University and Eastern New Mexico University.