SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Friday, January 27, legislators are looking at bills addressing key needs across New Mexico. Some of the interesting bills up for debate include one that would expand healthcare coverage for diabetic New Mexicans and one that would try to cut down on retail crimes.

Improving diabetic resources

This morning, legislators in the House Health & Human Services Committee will consider a bill aimed at expanding insurance benefits to diabetic individuals. House Bill 53, sponsored by Rep. Elizabeth “Liz” Thomson (D-Abq.), would expand the types of group health insurance providers that are required to cover diabetic medicine.

The bill adds to the existing Health Care Purchasing Act, which guides requirements for insurance for public employees, retired public workers, and public school staff. The changes also give the state’s Office of Superintendent of Insurance the power to monitor insurance companies and enforce rules under the bill.

Addressing retail crimes

Legislators will also consider House Bill 55. The bill was introduced by Republican Representatives William “Bill” R. Rehm (Abq.), Joshua N. Hernandez (Rio Rancho), Randall T. Pettigrew (Lovington & Hobbs), Stefani Lord (Tijeras & Edgewood), and Andrea Reeb (Clovis).

The idea behind the bill is to cut down on what’s being called “organized retail crime.” Rep. Rehm explains it this way: “They’re organized in that they [the thieves] work as a team to go in, hit one store, move the items into their car, and then go to the next store and another member comes in and steals the items, and they just repeat this activity.”

According to Rehm, that sort of behavior hurts both the stores and New Mexicans. When items are stolen, retailers often have to raise prices or lock up items, he explains. “When you go in now, what you see is they lock up high-dollar or high-theft items,” he says. “And then you, as an honest person, have to go find somebody to go and get into that case.”

To stop this sort of crime, the bill would essentially allow prosecutors to not only charge accused thieves with each individual theft, but to charge them with an aggregate total value of the items stolen. Because theft charges are often based on the value of the items stolen, the bill would allow for harsher penalties for repeat, organized thieves. For more details on how the bill works, check out this KRQE News 13 story.

In case you missed it: Mariachi hall of fame

Among the recent debates over gun bills, tough-on-crime legislation, and talk of tax rebates, it’s easy to overlook the more lighthearted legislation. But legislators do sponsor memorials that aim to celebrate New Mexico culture.

One of those was introduced by, Sen. Michael Padilla (D-Abq.). Padilla is pushing for the establishment of a Mariachi Music Hall of Fame.

There’s already a virtual hall of fame run by nonprofit, Mariachi Spectacular. But Padilla wants Albuquerque and Bernalillo County to work together to support a physical hall of fame.