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Mayor Berry’s 2017 Legislative Priorities

January 18, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE- Today, Mayor Richard J. Berry outlined his top legislative priorities for the City of Albuquerque for the 2017 Regular Legislative Session of the New Mexico Legislature. The Mayor requests the Legislature to bolster public safety and address crime in Albuquerque by approving:

•    Return to Work: This legislation will allow retired municipal police officers and other retired law enforcement personnel in New Mexico to return to work in public safety while still collecting their pensions. It has been definitively determined by an expert actuary and PERA staff that this legislation would not harm pension solvency - in fact, the actuary found that it may actually improve solvency. All surrounding states allow this policy in some form. In the past, this legislation has received support from 39 mayors representing 78% of the State’s population, all 33 county sheriff’s departments, and the State Police.  This unified support by many Mayors and public safety professionals show that this bill will increase sworn officer levels across the State. If passed, the bill will allow APD to add 100 officers and it would have saved taxpayers over $11.5 million dollars; money that could have been used for recruitment and retention bonuses for current officers. While the Albuquerque Police Department is continuing its robust recruitment efforts, to reach 1,000 officers, Return to Work is absolutely necessary to bring experienced officers back into the department.

•    Crime: Mayor Berry will support any legislation that will make New Mexico a worse place to be a criminal and supports several crime bills that will be under review this session including: making crimes against police officers a hate crime, death penalty, Katie's Law, and others.

•    Rape Kit Backlog: Funding is needed to address the sexual assault kit backlog at the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). In July 2016, Mayor Berry allocated $200,000 to evaluate, inventory, and test kits in APD’s possession. However, more funding is needed as the City continues to address this issue.

•    Hold Harmless: With the regression of the gross receipts tax distribution to counties and municipalities, Mayor Berry urges State lawmakers to not accelerate the withholdings.  The City of Albuquerque is able to support current Hold Harmless provisions but will become vocal in opposition if drafted legislation tries to expand the reach of the current policy.

•    Capital Outlay Request: As the Rainforest Building is rising adding to Albuquerque’s downtown skyline, but more work is needed to be done at the Innovate ABQ site. This public-private partnership will not only be an economic catalyst for Albuquerque but for the entire state of New Mexico. This development with become a one stop shop for New Mexican entrepreneurs to support a “grow-our-own” economic development strategy.  Additional funds would be utilized for the continued development to have the higher education institutions locate on this centralized site in partnership with the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.