January 27, 2016

House panel endorses adding cops to hate-crimes- Las Cruces Sun News

House Bill 95 to add police officers as a protected class under New Mexico's hate crimes law cleared a Republican-controlled House committee Tuesday after a debate about whether attacks against law-enforcement professionals should be included in a law meant to apply to inherent characteristics such as race.

The legislation comes against a background of public outcry over recent high-profile fatal attacks on police officers in New Mexico and elsewhere. While national data show a general decline over the past decade in the number of officers killed by gunfire in the line of duty, law enforcement officials say they increasingly fear they are being targeted because they wear a uniform. -- 1/27/2016


'Three strikes bill' heads for House floor vote- Las Cruces Sun News

A bill to expand New Mexico's "three strikes" law to send more repeat criminals to prison for life terms cleared the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday in a 7-4 party-line vote. Democrats opposed House Bill 56 by Republican Rep. Paul Pacheco, a retired Albuquerque police officer. Their main criticisms were that the measure would further clog an underfunded court system as more defendants seek trials, and that it could inadvertently ensnare some nonviolent criminals who need not occupy a prison cell for decades. -- 1/27/2016


Bill would ban solitary confinement for youth- Las Cruces Sun News

Even before President Barack Obama on Tuesday barred federal prisons from putting juveniles in solitary confinement, two state legislators had filed bills to create similar restrictions in New Mexico. Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, and Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas, D-Albuquerque, want to prohibit New Mexico jails and prisons from placing inmates 18 and younger in solitary confinement. They also are proposing other restrictions, including banning jails and prisons from holding inmates with "a serious mental illness" in isolation.

Both proposals to reduce the use of solitary confinement are long shots to clear the Legislature in a 30-day session, especially because bills on crime and harsher punishment are a dominant theme in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. -- 1/27/2016


House bill to hold back poor readers advances- Las Cruces Sun News

House Bill 67  that calls for holding back some third-grade students who don't show proficiency in reading at their grade level cleared its first hurdle Tuesday after the House Education Committee recommended approval of the measure in a 6-4 vote along party lines.

This followed a 6-6 vote that momentarily stalled the bill. Both times, Republicans voted to move the bill forward, and Democrats voted to kill it. According to a witness, two Democrats left the room after the initial vote and were not present for the second round. -- 1/27/2016