Bipartisan package of public safety bills advances in House

New Mexico lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee on Saturday advanced a bipartisan package of public safety measures that proponents said are aimed at reducing violent crime in communities across the state and aiding law enforcement officers who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Provisions in the omnibus package that would provide funding to train officers in “community-oriented policing” and ease access to treatment for officers with PTSD received broad support from the law enforcement community, advocacy groups and committee members. Suicides nationwide among law enforcement officers were higher last year than the deaths of those killed in the line of duty, several proponents noted, referring to studies by national nonprofits showing a surge in officer suicides in 2019. To address the issue, the omnibus package includes a provision that would make it easier for commissioned officers to get PTSD treatment covered through workers’ compensation. The package, which combines House Bills 6, 35 and 113, was approved by the committee Saturday on a vote of 13-0 and has the support of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Three strikes expansion moves on from Senate panel

After an emotional debate, three strikes legislation cleared the Senate Public Affairs Committee on a 7-2 vote Saturday. Sponsored by Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, the bill adds a number of violent crime felonies to the state’s existing “three strikes” law, which mandates life imprisonment for people who are convicted three times of certain felonies. The bill is known as “Lilly’s Law,” named after 4-year-old Lilly Garcia, who was shot and killed last fall during a road rage incident in Albuquerque. Lilly’s parents, Alan and Veronica Garcia, acted as expert witnesses for the bill. Pacheco acknowledged that penalties in his bill bill aren’t “perfectly matched” to the person who killed Lilly Garcia, whose previous crimes would not fall under the current or Pacheco’s expanded three strikes law.

Harsher DWI penalties pass House committee

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.