Dueling philosophies between lawmakers on how to solve that state’s problem with drunk driving peppered debate in a House committee Thursday afternoon. Lawmakers in the House Safety and Civil Affairs Committee heard three bills to add penalties to DWIs, all of which passed on mostly partisan grounds. Two of the bills, in fact, were called “Increase Certain DWI Penalties.”
One makes driving a car with a revoked driver’s license a fourth degree felony while punishing those who knowingly allow people with revoked licenses drive their cars. Another increases penalties for the fourth DWI by a year and ups someone’s eighth DWI from a third degree felony to a second degree felony. The third bill seeks to add DWI sentences to state habitual offender laws.
A bill to allow retired cops to return to their police departments across the state passed its first House committee, a marked difference from last year when it died quickly. The measure passed the House Safety and Civil Affairs Committee on partisan lines, with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats voting against. Sponsored by Rep. Larry Larrañaga, R-Albuquerque, this time the bill doesn’t hurt the Public Employees Retirement Association of New Mexico fund. Or at least that’s the promise the veteran legislator made. Albuquerque City Attorney Jessica Hernandez testified that former cops who decide to return to work won’t be able to add to their pensions, but would still have to contribute to the PERA fund.
A bill that would add requirements for candidates who wish to be sheriff, passed its first checkpoint on the way to the House floor.
The House Safety and Civil Affairs Committee voted unanimously to add a list of qualifications for those who want to run for the position of sheriff of a New Mexico county. HB 438, sponsored by retired police officer Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, told the committee there are currently no requirements to run for the position of sheriff in New Mexico. Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, D- Albuquerque, applauded the bill’s sponsor for bringing the bill forward and said qualifications are long overdue. “This is one of the remnants of the horse and buggy age of our state,” she said.