Among other exciting events today at the Roundhouse, the Senate Public Affairs Committee is discussing bills concerning DWI, domestic violence, HIV, gangs and sex offenders.
Evidently, these are things people care about, because it's standing room only
The committee is discussing Sen. Peter Wirth's (D-Santa Fe) SB 4
, which limits DWI plea agreements.
A slew of Santa Fe teens have testified in favor, as have officials from MADD and the state Department of Transportation. So far, the only opposition's been from Tony Ortiz of the New Mexico Sentencing Commission
and Ousama Rasheed
from the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
Sen. Vernon Asbill, R-Eddy, appears to have just learned that you can get a DWI with a 0.04 blood alcohol level. Asbill: "That's interesting." Sen. George Muñoz, R-Cibola (and McKinley) says McKinley County has gotten tons of funding from the DWI czar. Rasheed calls DWI sentencing "a McKinley County problem"
and says we shouldn't limit District Attorneys by telling them they have to send DWI offenders to jail. Wirth says the problem is that when people get to plead out of the DWI statute, they don't get treatment and nothing's gained. Here's an idea: We could do no-refusal blood testing, like in Texas
Pres. of NM District Attorney's Association
says this will lead to lots of DWI dismissals.
Definitely not the intended effect.
Sen. Tim Eichenberg, D-Bernalillo, says discussion shouldn't continue without DWI czar's presence but moves to send the bill to its next stop at the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Dede Feldman, D-Bernalillo, seconds the motion and asks for a county-by-county DWI analysis and whether all cops are actually equipped to do both breathalizers and blood tests. Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Chaves, says she's "uncomfortable" not knowing how much the bill will cost, but its fiscal impact report
puts the maximum price at $200,000, which Wirth says is "relatively small."
After at least an hour of debate, Wirth's DWI bill (SB 4) moves to Senate Judiciary Committee with a no-pass recommendation
, same as Wirth's mandatory incarceration DWI bill, SB 3
. (For a more detailed play-by-play, see the New Mexico Independent's live blog here
Discussion begins combining SB 3 with SB 5
, Wirth's bill (co-sponsored by Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe) to increase DWI penalties and fines
as a deterrent.
A lot of heartfelt testimony in favor of this bill. People who have lost family members say short-term costs have no bearing on the loss of life and livelihood that come with a tragedy; many law enforcement officers in favor.
Dan Koffman, father of Avree Koffman (and SFR advertising exec), testifies to Committee: "I urge you to be superheroes and make this happen. For your kids, be able to as your legacy say, 'I was a superhero. I made New Mexico a safer place.'"
Opposition from Sierra County Manager and Bernalillo County Detention Center; they cite costs and overpopulation at detention centers.
Feldman urges Committee members to keep their questions brief: "We're running late here, and I don't want to run into the wee hours of the night...yet."
Guess that's inevitable later on in the session.
Nearly three hours, and we're still on DWI laws. My computer's dying, so I'll post the end of the story tomorrow...
My computer's not the only one who's tired. The following bills will be discussed Thursday:
, HIV At-Risk Individual Partner Services (Griego)
, Sex Offender Registration & Offenses (Rue)
, Continuing Care Community Consumer Protection (Cisneros)
, Whistleblower Protection Act (Beffort)