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Today, the ACLU of New Mexico voiced serious concerns regarding the constitutionality of Governor Susana Martinez’ line item veto of sections of a bipartisan crime and public safety package. The New Mexico Constitution plainly allows the Governor to “disapprove any part … of any bill appropriating money.” However, the New Mexico Supreme Court has made it clear that the Governor's power of partial veto is limited to bills appropriating money. This bill contains no such appropriation.
“We were pleased to see the governor finally sign a public safety bill that contained smart criminal justice reform,” said ACLU of New Mexico Executive Director Peter Simonson. “Unfortunately, the governor struck some of the most important components of this bipartisan legislation, and in doing so, we have very serious concerns that she may have violated the New Mexico Constitution. We urge our state legislative leaders to study this matter closely and take any action necessary to protect their authority and the separation of powers required by our state constitution.”
The legislation, HB19, which passed nearly unanimously through both chambers, included several important public safety proposals. Governor Martinez specifically vetoed a common sense change to existing law that would no longer allow a person to have their driver’s license suspended simply for failure to appear or pay the most mundane of citations, such as a failure to maintain working windshield wipers.