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Mayor Berry's 2016 Legislative Priorities Roundup

February 19, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE- During the 2016 Regular Legislative Session of the New Mexico Legislature, many of Mayor Richard J. Berry’s priorities were passed while others were unsuccessful. The Mayor requested the legislature to pass legislation that would make our community safer, bolster economic opportunities and job creation and assist those in mental health crisis.

Bills that passed:

  • HB168 Ride Sharing: Mayor Berry has been a strong advocate for the sharing economy. He led the way to allow Uber to conduct business at the Albuquerque International Sunport, a pilot project that has been very successful.
  • SB131 Assisted Outpatient Treatment: Senator Mary Kay Papen’s legislation will help individuals in mental health crisis get the care they need. This bill does not mandate treatment - it expands and augments services, provides easier paths towards treatment, and diverts individuals from possible jail time or self-harm.
  • SB118 Tougher Habitual Offender Law: Representative Sarah Maestas-Barnes’s DWI bill toughens laws for habitual DWI offenders.
  • SJR1 Constitutional Amendment for Bonds: This constitutional amendment to keep violent criminals off the streets while their cases are pending will go before New Mexicans this November election. Mayor Berry urges support of this referendum.
  • Capital Outlay Requests: The City and the Mayor requested capital outlay funds to purchase camera units that can be placed in parks and neighborhoods in an effort to keep our city safe by increasing security and police presence in residential areas. In total, the City received over $3 million in legislator directed projects, for a variety of programs.
    • Mobile Camera Units: The city received $401,000 from our broad bipartisan coalition of legislators to purchase Real Time Crime Center mobile camera trailers and stationary pole cameras.

Priorities that did not pass the legislature:

  • HB171 Return to Work: This legislation would have allowed 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 was 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. If passed, the bill would have allowed 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.  All surrounding states allow it in some form. This bill passed the House with bipartisan support with statewide support from 39 mayors representing 78% of the State’s population, all 33 county sheriff’s departments, and the State Police. This legislation could have helped communities large and small across New Mexico, but unfortunately, it stalled in the Senate.
  • HB95 Violence Against Police Officers as Hate Crimes: Legislation that will make any aggressive or violent act against a law enforcement officer a hate crime failed in the Senate Public Affairs Committee.
  • HB29 Teen Curfew Laws: It is important for municipalities around New Mexico to have this enabling legislation passed so each community can make decisions that each feels are best for their communities. This bill died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • SB269 Right to Work: This legislation would simply afford an individual the right to choose whether or not they would like to join a union to get a job in New Mexico. This legislation did not outlaw unions or collective bargaining. It would have helped to create new jobs and spur economic opportunities as it has in other Right to Work states. This bill died in the Senate Public Affairs Committee.