Strangulation becomes a serious violent crime in New Mexico under a measure signed by Gov. Susana Martinez on Thursday.
Senate Bill 61 won support from survivors of domestic violence who said the particularly insidious form of abuse can leave lifelong brain damage but has been difficult to prosecute because its signs are hard to detect.
Sponsored by Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, and Rep. James Smith, R-Sandia Park, Senate Bill 61 makes New Mexico the 46th state to specifically define strangulation as a serious violent crime. In this state, it falls under the aggravated battery law.
The governor also signed House Bill 40, sponsored by Rep. Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque, requiring that law enforcement academies include information on strangulation as part of each basic law enforcement training class.
Among other bills signed by Martinez:
• HB 139, sponsored by Reps. Deborah Armstrong, D-Albuquerque, and Youngblood, allows the use, dispensing, possession, prescribing, storage or transport of prescription drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that contain marijuana. The legislation won’t have an immediate impact, however, because no products containing marijuana derivatives have been approved so far by the FDA.
• HB 193, sponsored by Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences, Armstrong and others, establishes specific standards for licensed early childhood care programs for children under the age of 5.
• HB 119, sponsored by Dow, will allow victims of domestic violence to register with the Secretary of State’s Office for mail delivery in order to protect the confidentiality of the victims’ addresses. The bill requires all names, addresses and telephone numbers of participants to be exempt from public record.
• SB 231, sponsored by Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, provides a tax credit of up to $1,000 a year for employers who hire youth in the state’s foster care system and those over 18 who are now living on their own after spending time in state custody.
• SB 143, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, scraps a cap on income for lawyers who pay off student loans through public service, such as by serving as a public defender or prosecutor. Previously, lawyers earning more than $55,000 were not eligible for the program. The program has seen a decline in applications, and the bill’s proponents argued that ending the salary cap would create an incentive for law school graduates to pursue work at a state agency.
• SB 50, sponsored by Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, and Albuquerque Republicans Reps. Jim Dine and Bill Rehm, closes what campaign finance reform advocates call a “credit card loophole” that can allow donors to make unverifiable, fraudulent contributions to politicians. The bill would require that donors type in a three-digit security code on the back of their credit or debit card when making a political contribution online, as well as a billing address, as when ordering a product over the internet. A relatively small tweak to the state’s campaign finance laws, it won backing from groups on the left, right and in the center, including Common Cause, Take Back Our Republic and Bridge Alliance.