Rookie legislator comes out swinging

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State > Garcia Richard sponsors 11 bills in this session

By Tris DeRoma

Stephanie Garcia Richard has been busy during her first term as a legislator.

Garcia Richard (D-Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Sandoval and Rio Arriba) has sponsored 11 different bills during her first session in the state legislature.

Some probably will not make it through committees, but others surely will.

Garcia Richard said one of the bills —House Joint Memorial Bill10, Renewable Energy Storage Initiatives — could make it to the house floor as soon as this Tuesday.

“It basically asked the Department of Energy, Minerals and Natural resources, to develop a task force focused on developing energy storage,” Garcia Richard said.

While New Mexico has shown much potential in producing alternative sources of energy such as wind and solar, the problem has always been practical use. Energy experts say storing the energy (usually in the form electricity) is the key to making it practical.

“We have the technology, it’s just we don’t have the mechanism to incentivize the process,” Garcia Richard said.

The aim of the bill will be to get representatives from New Mexico’s energy-related offices and agencies together to, among other things “develop legislative and recommendations and alternatives that can incentivize renewable energy storage technologies and infrastructure development to benefit New Mexico.”

Another bill that’s getting near the floor is Garcia Richard’s HB 479 DWI Home Breathalyzer Devices bill. This bill would close loopholes in New Mexico’s drunken driving laws.

“When I was talking with folks when I was running, they’d always tell me, ‘I just don’t understand. We’re told that New Mexico has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country, yet we still have these issues,’ ” Garcia Richard said.

One of the biggest loopholes has to do with the interlock device system. Sometimes someone that’s convicted of drunk driving has to have an interlock device placed on the personal or work vehicle they drive. In order to get it started, they must blow into an alcohol sensor unit, hardwired to the car’s ignition to test their alcohol level. If they are above the legal limit, the car won’t start. However, people have found a way around it or simply say to the judge that they don’t drive. Garcia Richard’s bill proposes having them test through a breathalyzer unit installed in the home.

She has more bills in the legislature and they encompass a broad range of subjects, including education, energy, business, law enforcement and the environment.

“There were definite things that I came into the legislature thinking that I wanted to work on,” she said.

Her other priorities include economic development and job creation. “Renewable energy sources goes into that, JTIP (New Mexico’s Job Training Incentive Program) goes into that,” she said.