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Legislation that would target repeat drunk drivers has passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 51-5 Monday.
House Bill 10a (DWI Sentencing and Interlocks), sponsored by Elizabeth “Liz” Thomson (D-Bernalillo), Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-Los Alamos, Sandoval, Rio Arriba, Santa Fe), and Rep. Tim Lewis (R-Sandoval), closes some serious loopholes in current law, prevents repeat drunk drivers from returning to the streets, and increases the penalties for repeat offenders.
“Passing HB 10a today takes an important step forward in ending senseless drunk driving crashes, injuries and deaths,” Thomson said. “There is always more work to be done, but I feel confident we are gaining ground on this longstanding problem. I want to thank my co sponsors, Reps. Garcia-Richard and Lewis.”
“I am elated I was given the opportunity to revive this important piece of legislation last week in the Transportation Committee and grateful that my fellow members passed the bill today on the House floor,” Garcia Richard said. “HB 10a is designed to stop habitual DWI offenders and close the breathalyzer loophole in our current laws. This bill is important because it will aid in decreasing DWI offenses, hold habitual offenders accountable, and more importantly help save lives.”
House Bill 10a has three major components:
1. Requires clean blows into the ignition interlock during the last six months of an offender’s sentence before a driver’s license is reinstated. The driver must also introduce evidence of at least one interlock test during each of 24 weeks during the 6 months.
2. Provides stiffer sentences for repeat offenders - basic sentences (for subsequent felony DWI convictions) are increased by one year (for a second felony), four years (for a third felony) and eight years (for a fourth or subsequent felony).
3. Requires and allows for a GPS monitoring system and a breathalyzer for those under house arrest.
Thomson, Garcia Richard and Lewis were recently recognized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) as Legislative Champions. They sponsored similar DWI prevention legislation last year. It passed the House, but was not put to a vote in the Senate because time ran out.
House Bill 10a now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Also making it out of committee was another bill co-sponsored by Garcia Richard.
Omaree’s Law received a Do Pass from the House Judiciary Monday night on a 13-4 vote, and it now heads to the house floor.
House Bill 333 requires CYFD to immediately take custody of children showing specific injuries of abuse, and requires the parents, guardians or custodians to complete counseling before taking custody of a child in certain circumstances.
The bill adds language to the Children’s Code that if specific injuries are found on a child’s body CYFD is to take custody of the child immediately. This bill requires mandatory hold and hearing.
Also Monday, the nomination of Hanna Skandera as Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s secretary of education stalled but she will continue to serve in her cabinet-level job.
The Rules Committee split 5-5 on whether to send Skandera’s nomination to the Senate for a confirmation vote without a recommendation on whether she should be confirmed.
The deadlock means that Skandera’s nomination will remain bottled up in the committee, with the Legislature set to adjourn on Thursday.
But nothing prevents Skandera from remaining as the top administrator in the agency that oversees New Mexico’s public schools. Had the 42-member Senate rejected her nomination, Skandera would have been forced to immediately leave her post.
After the committee vote, Skandera told reporters she had no plans to resign and described it as a “day of politics.”
“The disappointment is we’ve allowed politics to rule at the end of the day versus our kids,” she said. “I think I’ve demonstrated from start to finish that I’m committed to delivering for our kids, and nothing has changed.”
Skandera has drawn opposition from many Democrats and educational unions because of the governor’s school policies, including merit pay for teachers, a system for assigning grades of A-to-F for schools, a teacher evaluation system heavily based on student performance on standardized tests and a plan to hold back third-graders who can’t read proficiently.