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Susana Convenes Session

Susana Convenes Session

'The Governor believes we need to act now, and will therefore call a special session for Friday' Martinez spokesperson Michael Lonergan

Dems Say Adding Death Penalty is ‘Irresponsible Distraction’

BY DAN VUKELICH

Gov. Susana Martinez called the 112 members of the Legislature into session on Friday to address the state budget shortfall and two additional topics — the death penalty and a tougher three-strikes law.

The announcement that the session will convene with less than 48 hours notice apparently came after weeks of negotiations with Democrats who control the Senate proved fruitless.

“The Governor has worked for over 60 days to negotiate a budget deal with Senate Democrats. However, it appears that Senate Democrats would rather play political games that could shut down the government rather than solve our budget challenges,” said Martinez’s spokesperson Michael Lonergan.

“The Governor believes we need to act now, and will therefore call a special session for Friday,” Lonergan said. “We hope it will be short, but that all depends on whether the Senate will take our pressing challenges seriously, including our crime issues, or if they will continue to play games.”

In addition to the three topics, Martinez also plans to seek enhancement to what is known as Brianna’s Law, a statute outlining penalties for crimes against children. Martinez intends to call for a a mandatory life sentence for anyone convicted of intentional child abuse that results in death — no matter the child’s age.

Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg, in an op-ed in this newspaper, cited the failure of the death penalty as a crime deterrent and urged that it not be reinstated.

Senate Democrats, who joined with the state’s Catholic bishops in calling for the Legislature to reject reinstatement of the death penalty, said:

“Adding the reeinstatment of the death penalty is an irresponsible distraction to the dire economic situation the state is facing. As elected officials, it is our duty to focus on the budget as our first priority. Senate Democrats are committed to working in a bi-partisan manner to resolve this crisis and avoid cutting critical services to the public. We want to prevent the furloughing of law enforcement officers, classroom teachers, nurses, correctional officers, and other vital state employees. The regular Session is three months away and that is the appropriate time to debate other issues.”

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Dan Vukelich is a writer and former editor of ABQ Free Press.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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