Second night of the special session finally picks up, pushes a variety of bills

Politics - Government

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Senators passed a bill that would require all law enforcement officers in the state to wear body cameras.

“The bill requires that local law enforcement agencies adopt their own policies and procedures so it has some mandatory parameters including turning it on and turning it off and the fact that the video has to be retained and maintained and remain available for a certain time,” said Sen. Joseph Cervantes (D- Las Cruces).

After the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd in police custody there have been calls to reform police departments across the country. Albuquerque Senator Mark Moores was one of the few Republicans who voted for the bill but told us he wished lawmakers focused more on the budget.

“I think a lot of us were in support of the issue of police officers wearing body cams and then at the last minute, the Governor threw together very complex issues about liability into the bill,” said Sen. Mark Moores (R- Albuquerque). “We don’t have a chance to talk to police officers, we don’t have a chance to talk to the sheriffs on how that’s going to impact. We can’t talk to the cops because its closed to everyone, we can’t talk to civil rights leaders because the place is closed to everyone. This is not the way to run a democracy.”

The bill was originally intended to require just the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office to wear body cameras. Law enforcement officials at schools like Albuquerque Public Schools and UNM Police would be required to wear body cameras. The bill now moves to the house.

Meanwhile, the House passed two solvency bills that would use a mix of federal money and rainy day funds to offset revenue shortfalls. Before the pandemic, teachers were expecting a 4% pay bump but now it looks like they will only get a 1% increase.

The second bill would save about $150 million by trimming funds for road projects and capital outlay. Republican lawmakers voiced concern over canceling infrastructure spending. The bill will slowly help pay debts by taking an average of 4% from most state agency budgets.

Lawmakers have spent the first couple days of the session working through stumbling blocks.

“There are some situations that have come up and we’re still trying to figure it out and it’s been a very slow start,” said Rep. Kelly Fajardo (R- Los Lunas).

The public is prohibited from attending the session in person because of COVID-19 but they still have to be able to watch online. So if the live-stream goes down which happened repeatedly, lawmakers have to stop what they’re doing until it’s back up. Lawmakers say the new procedures for meeting and voting have been confusing. The governor originally projected the session would last only a few days but that’s looking doubtful given the technical wrinkles, as well as the new topics like police reform the governor added at the last minute.

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