Latest Bill Action from the Legislative Session

Posted on 25. Jan, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics, Social/Cultural

Bill to Make Stealing Utility Hardware that Keeps NM Humming A Felony “At least put this crime on par with stealing a goat”

Passes Senate Public Affairs Today

SB 28 Neville Penalties for Larceny of Cable Hardware

SPAC Do Pass 8-0, on to SJC

Santa Fe- Currently a thief can be charged with only a misdemeanor crime for stealing a $10 copper wire that could potentially cause a power outage throughout an entire city or do even worse damage. In comparison, stealing a goat in New Mexico is a felony.

Senator Steve Neville (R-Farmington) wants to change. He does not want to change the livestock theft crime, but he wants to make the larceny of telecommunication or utility cable or hardware to be a third degree or second degree felony, not a misdemeanor. He said the type of crime and its penalty should be based on the damages to the utility and the cost of getting the utility back on-line after the theft, not based on the cost of the stolen wire or piece of hardware.

“Thieves are out there right now stealing cable and wire for the copper content with complete disregard of how that piece of equipment can potentially jeopardize an entire community,” Senator Neville said. “That stolen item could cause a power outage and do a lot of damage, everything from shutting down business operations, to shutting off the heat in people’s homes causing pipes to burst or people to freeze to death.  It could cost a utility company tens of thousands of dollars to get the community humming again.”

The bill was amended in Senate Public Affairs this afternoon, clarifying that the theft of railroad signal equipment would also be a felony. “Can you imagine how stealing a wire and disabling a Railrunner crossing signal could end up costing a motorist or pedestrian their lives. The penalty should fit the crime. These thefts should be felonies,” Senator Neville said.

Senator Neville said all thefts of telecommunication or utility cable or hardware would be at least a third degree felony, those that cost the utilities over $20,000 to restore the services would be second degree felonies.

Regarding the  goat felony crime, Senator Neville said that as he researched his bill he learned that livestock in New Mexico have historically been critical to the livelihood of New Mexicans and the theft of livestock has always been a third degree felony. “At least, let’s put this crime on par with stealing a goat in New Mexico,” Senator Neville said.

Senate Bill 28 would amend §30-16-1 NMSA (Larceny), by adding the crime of committing larceny of telecommunication or utility cable or hardware. Depending on the dollar value cost of the restoration of services following an outage caused by said larceny, the crime is categorized as a third degree (any value) or second degree (over $20,000) felony.

Sometimes We Don’t Want to Advertise ‘I’m from the Government and I am here to help” Undercover State License Plates to Help Employees do their Jobs in Sensitive Situations

SB 51- Protective and Undercover License Plates

Senator Sander Rue

Passes SCORC

Undercover state employees can avoid advertising they work for the state because of the markings on their government issued license plates under a bill Sponsored by Senator Sander Rue. The bill,   SB 51- Protective and Undercover License Plates, heads to Senate Judiciary after receiving a do pass from Senate Corporations and Transportation tonight.

“Sometimes we don’t want to advertise “I’m from the Government and I am here to help,” Senator Sander Rue said as he quoted the nine most terrifying words in the English language from President Ronald Reagan. “Sometimes advertising they are a state employee can put those employees working in the field in jeopardy and can jeopardize the critical work they are doing for the state.”

The bill sets in law a process to issue non-government license plates to state employees who work in agencies and departments such as CYFD, and to probation and parole officers who need to work undercover in sensitive situations without the public knowing they are public officials. And the law also creates a mechanism to prevent abuse.

Senator Rue said the bill is designed to protect state employees and help them do their jobs in sensitive situations without the public knowing by the license plates on their state vehicles, that they are public employees.

“CYFD employees often times have to intervene in traumatic family situations, a job that is difficult enough,” Senator Rue said. “We need to do everything we can to assist them in doing their critical work in the field without jeopardizing their situation under sensitive circumstances by advertising they are a CYFD employee,” Senator Rue said.

The bill also adds language to 66-6-15 NMSA to allow MVD to issue undercover and sensitive activity plates to Indian tribes, pueblos, counties, municipalities and other governmental entities.

Job Creation and City Revitalization Bill Heads to Senate Finance

Small Business Revitalization Funding Passes SPAC Committee Unanimously

SB 52- Mainstreet Programs

Senator  Sue Wilson Beffort

MainStreet New Mexico will drive away with $100,000 for technical assistance for the New Mexico MainStreet program under a bill sponsored by Senator Sue Wilson Beffort. SB 52- MainStreet Programs- heads to Senate Finance after passing Senate Corporations and Transportation this afternoon.

This session, The MainStreet program is also seeking up to $2 million dollars from capital outlay for the program that is a national award winner.

The program helps local commercial districts revitalization in cities throughout the state by assisting property owners rehabilitate buildings, address infrastructure needs and fund capital improvements.  It is done through a non-profit corporation, with local MainStreet organizations working in partnership with cities.

Senator Wilson Beffort said it is a job creation bill because it helps to create an inviting environment that attracts new businesses to an area, “One of my priorities this session is to seek ways to create more job in the state. The MainStreet program does that while revitalizing our cities. It is a win-win program.”

The $100,000 appropriation from the general fund will go to the Economic Development Department for the purpose of expanding technical professional assistance to enhance local MainStreet programs statewide.

The MainStreet program is part of an economic development network of more than 37 states and 1200 communities across the country that was launched in 1984 in New Mexico.

- Editor:  The above were submitted by Diane Kinderwater of the NM Legislative Office. For more information, please contact: 505/986-4702






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