- Associated Press - Thursday, March 26, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Partisan wrangling in the New Mexico Legislature ended a number of bills sought by the state’s police agencies, including a measure requiring sheriffs to actually be law enforcement officers.

State lawmakers failed to get the sheriff requirement bill out of committee while they debate such measures as daylight savings time and allowing wine and beer home delivery. They also failed to pass a bill setting limits on the use of drones by police without a warrant.

In addition, a measure that would have banned the use of solitary confinement on juveniles languished without passing. Partisan fighting also killed funding for equipment for small law enforcement agencies.

The backlog came as the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-led Senate failed to come up with a compromise of public works spending. Republicans said Gov. Susana Martinez wanted a proposal that funded new highway projects through bonds, but Democrats called that plan irresponsible.

Talks broke down last week as the session wrapped up, languishing many bills in committee and on both floors of the chambers.

“The inability to come up with a compromise spelled doom for a lot of good legislation,” said Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque. “The governor was playing chicken with the Legislature, and we decided not to put up with it.’”

House Republicans and Martinez, however, put the blame solely on Senate Democrats for slowing down debate on bills.

“Both Democrats in the House and Senate promised to hold up the legislative process at all costs. Not only did they succeed in doing so, they are just as likely to stonewall the process again,” said Pat Garrett, Republican Party of New Mexico spokesman said in a statement.

Jack LeVick, executive director of the New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association, gave state lawmakers a “D-” on the session that ended Saturday and said the lack of action will hurt agencies in the long run.

“We got no capital funding, and we didn’t get the needed help,” LeVick said. “Our requests went nowhere and that’s unfortunate.”

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Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter: https://twitter.com/russcontreras


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