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The Good; The Bad; The Ugly...The Real March Madness Legislative Scorecard

—Attorney General King

The just concluded legislative session was a mixed bag of victories, chronic roadblocks and outright head scratchers for New Mexico Attorney General Gary King.

New Mexico's Children and Families will likely suffer the most for lack of protections against the often deadly effects of underage consumption of alcohol. The following AG proposals were lost early in committee or were never scheduled for hearing:

•Ban Caffeinated Alcohol Energy Drinks
•Prohibit Underage Intoxication
•Regulate Alcohol Advertising to Minors
•Expand County Option for Taxing Alcohol
•Tax Flavored Malt Beverages, aka “Alcopops” at an appropriate rate

The Liquor Industry is mostly responsible for the defeat of all Underage Drinking prevention and treatment bills backed by the AG. Industry lobbyists somehow convinced a few lawmakers that the health and welfare of the state's liquor industry was more important than that of New Mexico's youth. Anti-underage drinking coalition groups, some state officials and many others, including Attorney General King, are still scratching their heads trying to make sense of the nonsensical.

 New Mexico Consumers will go back to the locker room with fewer protections than hoped for before the big game. The AG's Mortgage Fair Forclosure Act, bank, payday and title loan measures did not make it through the session.

Children and families took another hit as the cornerstone of AG King's Domestic Violence package, HB 434, the Family Violence Protection Act Revisions languished on the floor on the Senate side. Also victims of inaction were HB 187, Enforcement of Domestic Violence Protection Orders and HB 112, HIV Testing for Offenders. 

It was a split for the AG's animal protection bills, with Expansion of Cruelty to Animals, HB 159, being tabled and SB 127, Custody & Care of Mistreated Animals, getting passed. The latter is good news for cash strapped animal control agencies around the state that were hard pressed to care for confiscated animals from alleged cruelty cases. AG King was also disappointed because the loss of HB 434 also meant the loss of a provision that protected family pets in domestic violence situations.

Already suing the Attorney General and others in state government over auto emissions standards, New Mexico's Auto Dealers also managed to get a bill passed that would prohibit New Mexico from imposing stricter greenhouse gas standards.

The passage of campaign contribution limits was a win for voters and government ethics, but bills that provided for an Ethics Commission, Whistleblower Protection, Prosecution of State Officials by AG, Criminal Penalties for Violating the state's open records laws, Protection for Judges and Anti-Counterfeiting of all kinds of consumer goods and pharmaceuticals all go home together on the losers bus.

There are some bright spots on the Attorney General's scorecard. For example, the AG's Legislative Team was able to help save the state approximately $100 million in general fund money by pushing for SB 219, the Tobacco Bill, and opposing a provision in SB 228, which would have cost the state tens of millions of dollars by endangering revenue sharing provisions in the state's Indian Gaming Compacts. The Gaming bill was amended at the urging of the AG team and subsequently passed. AG King' Electronic Public Records Requests also made the cut.

"Keep in mind that these bills still have to be signed by the Governor," says Attorney General King. "And remember that there were a lot of legislators who worked very hard for their constituents and for the public in general. Unfortunately, many of us were thwarted by a relatively small but powerful band of private special interest groups that seek to maximize profits while the public interest suffers."






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