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Legislation deadline looms

UNM salaries, lottery bills remain on Johnson’s desk

Staff and Wire Report

Gov. Gary Johnson has until Friday to act on several hundred bills passed by the Legislature during its final days, including UNM faculty and staff salary increases he vetoed last month.

Johnson said in March that he would likely sign the salary bill.

The governor has several other UNM-related pieces of legislation on his desk, including two bills that would fully fund the Lottery to Success Scholarship.

Following more than two weeks of inactivity, Johnson signed a bill that made attacking a sports official a separate crime subject to tougher penalties.

He also signed measures to allow federal judges to perform marriages in New Mexico and to impose a 51-cent-a-line monthly surcharge on cellular and wireless telephone customers. The surcharge will pay for advanced 911 services that will display a caller’s number and location to emergency dispatchers.

Johnson signed 90 measures Monday, including:

l Resolve a dual taxation problem by having the state and the Navajo Nation split revenues from coal mining on tribal lands.

l Allow bigger recreational vehicles in New Mexico.

l Provide nearly $2.1 million to the state engineer for legal and water management disputes involving the Pecos River and the Rio Grande.

l Create a new crime of theft of identity for taking personal identification information, such as Social Security numbers or account passwords, and using it to obtain money, credit or anything of value.

The new law on sports officials takes effect July 1 and will make it a crime to assault or batter sports officials. It also establishes stiffer penalties than for the same crime committed against another member of the public.

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For example, simple assault against a sports official will be a misdemeanor, rather than a petty misdemeanor; aggravated assault would be a third-degree felony, rather than a fourth-degree felony.

A similar penalty scheme exists for attacks on police officers.

The National Association of Sports Officials backed the proposal to establish the separate crime. Similar legislation has been enacted in more than a dozen states.

“This law will send a strong message to all sports participants that physical abuse by anyone against a sports official will not be tolerated in New Mexico,” said Senate President Pro Tem Richard Romero, D-Albuquerque, who sponsored the measure.

The 2001 Legislature passed a record number of bills, 483, during its 60-day session, according to the Legislative Council Service. The governor had signed 69 measures before the Legislature adjourned on March 17, and he vetoed 15 bills.

Also signed into law Monday was a measure to stop jails and prisons from profiting from telephone calls made by inmates. It will require the state Corrections Department to provide telephone services to inmates at the lowest reasonable costs.

The governor signed an identical proposal before the Legislature adjourned. However, the House-sponsored version will be the one that takes effect and appears in statute books because it was the final version signed by Johnson.


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