A bill that would let cities and municipalities impose limited youth curfews failed in a Senate committee Tuesday evening. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted against the legislation on a 6-4 vote, with bipartisan votes on both sides of the issue. “This in no way mandates a statewide curfew,” House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, the sponsor of the legislation, said in describing the bill. Instead, it would only allow cities and municipalities to impose curfews that only were from midnight to 5:00 a.m. and even then had a number of exceptions. The Albuquerque Republican said that he was brought the idea by Albuquerque city councilor Ken Sanchez.
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.
A high-profile bill that would allow municipalities to impose limited curfews on some minors passed the state House Monday evening. The bill passed 44-21. House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, sponsored the bill, saying it would help reduce crime and also protect youth in the cities. Gentry said that it would not allow municipalities or counties to impose criminal penalties on those out past curfew. He said it would allow municipalities to pass ordinances not beyond the limits in the state law, which would include curfew hours during school and between midnight and 5:00 a.m.
The bill would not impact those age sixteen or older and also had other exemptions.
A bill to allow local governments to impose curfews on minors jumped through its second House committee, this time with some Democratic support. House Minority Leader Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, and Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, joined with seven Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee to vote yes on the bill. Maestas had been previously public about his support. “I’m stuck on this one,” Maestas said at committee. “I lean towards local control.”
The bill allows cities and counties to set up their own curfews for minors under 16 years of age.
The issue of teen curfews set up a firestorm of back and forth between supporters and opponents of a bill addressing the issue Monday afternoon. House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, presented a bill that would allow municipalities and counties to set their own curfew rules for minors. During his presentation to the House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee, Gentry said that the bill would not have major impact, saying that the term “curfew” is “a bit misleading.”
“All this bill does is during school hours and from midnight until five, law enforcement can contact minors,” he said. Gentry said the bill defines minors as people who are 16 years old and under. Still, the bill drew opposition from many, including some fellow lawmakers in committee.
An old adage goes “nothing good happens after midnight.” Some New Mexico lawmakers are attempting to make that adage into a law that would allow local governments to implement a curfew for anyone under 18. House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, filed HB 29 last month partly as an answer to two violent crimes that took place in Albuquerque last year. One instance involved a group of teenagers who were charged with the murder of an Albuquerque homeless man and the other involved a teenager who was shot and killed at an Albuquerque park late at night. Rep. Carl Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, who is a cosponsor of the curfew bill said he wanted to give local governments “the local authority to bring the curfew forward.”
The idea of the state giving authority to cities and counties is not new and also stems from a New Mexico Supreme Court decision from 1999. In 1995, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico successfully challenged a curfew implemented by the City of Albuquerque.