Martinez off to good start

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By Optic Editorial Board

So far we just don’t see the Big Bad Boogiewoman that some feared would come out of Susana Martinez once elected. So far, we can only applaud the moves she’s made.

First thing, shortly after midnight on Jan. 1, she signed executive orders that opened up state government, by prohibiting state departments and boards from hiring lobbyists, directing agencies to cooperate with any federal investigation and limiting the administration’s use of executive privilege to deny public records requests.

Then, on her first full work day, she proposed expanding state law to require DNA samples from all those arrested for any felony. Plus, she put a stop to then-Gov. Bill Richardson’s order to move a state DNA center from Albuquerque to Santa Fe — something that could have increased the risk of cross-contamination of evidence in criminal cases.

Martinez said she’ll ask the Legislature to broaden the state’s DNA sampling requirement — “Katie’s Law” as it’s called in memory of Kathryn “Katie” Sepich, who was raped and murdered in 2003, and whose killer was identified only after DNA evidence was collected from a criminal who’d been convicted of something else. Currently the law requires DNA sampling in cases involving murder, kidnapping, sex offenses, and some burglaries, but the governor’s proposal would expand the requirement to other felonies as well, including felony drug cases.

DNA sampling has become an effective means of both solving crimes and exonerating the innocent, and the more it’s put into use within our flawed criminal justice system, the better.

Maybe we’re just on a honeymoon with the new governor right now. After all, it’s exciting to have the state’s first woman governor, the first Latina governor, and a Republican who appears dedicated to the idea that state government has become far too political and way too inefficient in how it takes care of the public’s business. Moreover, in this era of mean-spirited politics, we were happy to hear a bipartisan tone in the new governor’s inauguration speech.

Of course, she inherits a fiscal mess, so the actions she’s taken so far as governor will pale in comparison to the tough decisions she’s yet to make. Here’s hoping that all her decisions will be as smart as her first ones, and that the boogiewoman never shows up.