Dem Senator’s vote keeps youth curfew bill alive

A measure allowing cities and counties to pass curfew laws on minors passed perhaps its toughest test yet in Senate Public Affairs Committee. The Democratic-controlled committee voted 5-4 in favor of advancing the bill, with Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, breaking ranks with his party and joining the four Republicans to support the bill. Sponsor of the bill Rep. Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, mentioned during the beginning or his presentation that he had worked with Ivey-Soto to narrow the legislation in a few ways. Originally, the bill allowed local governments to enact curfews for teenagers 15 years old and under during daytime school hours and from midnight to 5:00 a.m. Ivey-Soto successfully amended the bill to not allow curfews during daytime hours and exempted homeless teenagers found “at their permanent or temporary place of abode” from curfews. “I think there are a couple of things that can bring me around on this bill,” Ivey-Soto said after speaking about his reservations for the measure.

House OKs police double dipping bill

A proposal to allow retired law enforcement officers across the state to return to their old jobs cleared the House floor Wednesday evening after a three-hour debate. The House passed the bill on a 38-29 vote, with five Democrats joining all Republicans present for the vote. Sponsor Rep. Larry Larrañaga, R-Albuquerque, argued that it would solve staffing problems at police departments across the state. He emphasized that several county sheriffs across the state support the legislation, not just the city of Albuquerque and Albuquerque Police Department. Still, he had Albuquerque City Attorney Jessica Hernandez as his expert witness.

While other states eye reform, NM readies for ‘tough on crime’ session

In a crowded conference room in the mayor’s office last November, reporters and police officers gathered to see Republican lawmakers and Mayor Richard Berry discuss their plans for combating repeat criminal behavior.A visibly emotional Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, told the room of his intention to toughen New Mexico’s three strikes law. “This piece of legislation is very personal to me,” Pacheco said. Pacheco, a former law enforcement officer, told reporters that he was personally affected by a number of violent, high profile crimes committed earlier in the year. In May 2015, Rio Rancho Police officer Gregg Benner was shot and killed while on duty. In October, Albuquerque Police Officer Daniel Webster was shot and later died from his injuries.

Bipartisan asset forfeiture bill awaits signature

The 2015 New Mexico Legislative Session was marked with partisan divides. Both Democrats and Republicans left the session pointing fingers and placing blame across the aisle. A rare exception to the lose-lose scenario was a Republican-sponsored bill aimed at reforming the state’s Forfeiture Act. HB 560, sponsored by Rep. Zach Cook, R-Ruidoso, addresses a national concern about police seizing money or property from individuals without the conviction of a crime. While the bill passed both the House and Senate without a single dissenting vote, some committee members wondered if asset forfeiture is a problem in New Mexico.

Abortion restriction proposals stall in Senate committee

Two bills drafted to impede access to certain abortion procedures were set aside on Sunday by Democrats in the state Senate Public Affairs Committee, a move that likely signals the end of both measures during this session. Party-line votes tabled both HB 390, sponsored by Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, and HB 391, which was carried by Rep. Alonzo Baldonado, R-Los Lunas. While the drafters worked in close collaboration, the bills would impact the provision of abortion services in markedly different ways. HB 390 proposed a ban on abortions of pregnancies at 20 or more weeks gestation and included language Herrell said made exceptions for “physical harm if the woman’s health is in jeopardy” or if a woman asserts the pregnancy resulted from rape, incest or sexual abuse. Described by some supporters as a “parents’ rights” measure, HB 391 would require the formal notification of a parent or legal guardian of any minor female seeking an abortion.

Solitary confinement reform fails in committee

A House committee voted down legislation aimed at limiting isolated confinement in jails on Friday afternoon. The legislation failed to pass on a 6 to 5 vote, on party-lines with Republicans opposing the legislation. The bill’s sponsor Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, and his two expert witnesses told committee members that prisoner isolation does more harm than good. One of his witnesses was civil rights lawyer Matthew Coyte. Coyte has won numerous cases against correctional facilities across the state where inmates were exposed to inhumane conditions.