Two Democrats help send teen curfew bill to House floor

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.

Committee approves House curfew measure

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.

House bill to deny bail advances

A bill that would allow judges to deny bail on certain offenders has passed its first House committee on party lines. Sponsored by state Rep. David Adkins, R-Albuquerque, the measure would allow voters to approve or reject a proposed constitutional amendment that would let judges deny bail to offenders to “protect the safety of any other person or the community.”

The House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee passed the bill on a 4-3 vote. Jeff Clayton, a policy director for the American Bail Coalition, said the bill would only affect the “worst of the worst.”

“We’re talking about somebody who is dangerous who is going to flee and be dangerous,” Clayton said. Among supporters of the bill were members of the bail bond industry, the state Department of Public Safety and Julie Benner, widow of Rio Rancho officer Gregg “Nigel” Benner. Most who opposed the bill mentioned their support of a similar measure by state Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe.

State Auditor announces actual number of backlogged rape kits

New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller announced on Friday morning that his office determined how many rape kits that are sitting untested around the state. In a press release, Keller said his office worked with the Department of Public Safety in concluding there are 5,406 untested Sexual Assault Evidence kits in New Mexico. “Bringing transparency to the backlog is a first step towards fixing this issue, which is critical to survivors and our public safety,” Keller said. Keller’s office said they worked with DPS in retrieving numbers from each respective law enforcement agencies in New Mexico. DPS requested the numbers and the Auditor’s office followed up with those agencies that did not respond.

Legislators told about NM’s high violent crime rate

New Mexico is the fourth worst state in America for violent crimes. Or maybe it’s the second. Both rankings were cited in testimony from Department of Public Safety Greg Fouratt in a Monday afternoon interim legislative Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee hearing. The two numbers come from interpretations of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, which measures eight different types of crimes in states on a yearly basis. The website 24/7 Wall St., for example, ranked New Mexico with the fourth-most violent crime per 100,000 based on 2012 data and second-most violent based on 2013 data.

Gov orders review of school background checks after APS debacle

As Albuquerque Public Schools remains in the thick of scandal, Gov. Susana Martinez is ordering a review of background check policies in all New Mexico school districts. Susana Martinez announced Tuesday that the state Public Safety Department and Public Education Department will conduct a “thorough compliance review” to make sure each district is performing “timely” background checks of its employees. The order follows New Mexico Political Report’s revelation last week that now former APS Deputy Superintendent Jason Martinez was arrested in 2013 in Denver on charges of sexual assault of a child. Jason Martinez, who was also arrested earlier this year on two violent assault charges, is facing trial in Denver this October. A warrant is currently out for Jason Martinez’ arrest for breaking pretrial conditions that bar him from leaving Colorado without court approval.

Martinez approves budget

Gov. Susana Martinez signed a $6.2 billion state budget into law on Thursday afternoon, with a 1.3 percent spending increase over the previous year’s budget. Martinez praised the budget as responsible and one that invests in job growth. “By keeping our finances in order and ensuring that our budget grows in a stable and reasonable manner, we’re able to move New Mexico forward by growing our economy, keeping our families and children safe, and putting more dollars into the classroom than ever before,” Martinez said in a written statement. In an executive message, Martinez lauded efforts by lawmakers to invest funds to help grow jobs in the private sector. “These are critical dollars that will help us diversify our economy and decrease our reliance on federal spending, which has disproportionately hurt our state.”
The governor said she was happy to see many of the education reforms she pushed for funded through the budget.