Proposed bill would help fund transporting inmates

David Arkin

By David Arkin
PNT Correspondent
A bill introduced on Wednesday by a local lawmaker could provide $2 million for the transportation of parole violators.
Sen. Clint Harden, R-Clovis, said from his Santa Fe office that he introduced SB 90, legislation that would appropriate funds to the state’s Corrections Department to reimburse counties for the expense of incarcerating and transporting parole violators.
“Stiffer penalties and strict enforcement of parole violators help to make our communities safe. The state has an obligation to the counties to help defray the cost of housing and transporting individuals that are under the custody of the Corrections Department,” Harden said in a release.
State law says that county sheriffs have to extradite and transport prisoners. However, no funds have been appropriated by the Legislature for the transportation since 1997, Harden said.
Harden also said the large number of adult and juvenile parole violators placed in New Mexico county detention facilities each year contribute to the overcrowding problem in those facilities, impacting county budgets because of inmates’ “medical mental health and substance abuse problems.”

Harden’s other bills
Harden had a busy day on Wednesday, as he introduced not only a bill to provide funding for the transportation of paroles, but several others that would address a variety of issues statewide.

Gas loop
Harden submitted a bill that would force Indian reservations to pay tax for gasoline.

Ag and Science Center
The senator wants funding to create more staffing at the New Mexico State University Ag and Science Center located outside of Clovis.
“It would help beef up their research,” he said.
Rep. Brian Moore, R-Clayton, has also submitted a bill for centers in Clovis and Tucumcari that would provide funding to fix up the facilities.
“Brian has a different emphasis,” Harden said.

Other legislation
Sen. Gay Kernen, R-Hobbs, said on Wednesday that she introduced a bill that would provide funding for an education study.
Kernen, whose district includes Roosevelt County, introduced a memorial bill on behalf of the Legislative Educational Study Committee to study the effects of pre-K.
“The study will look to see if there is a need to provide pre-K in the future,” she said.
The study would not cost anything because the public education department would conduct it, Kernen said.
“There is normally not a lot of controversy with these studies,” she said.
Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, also introduced legislation, however no details were available concerning those bills.
The bills he introduced would go to:
l Fort Sumner Irrigation District debt payment.
l Eastern New Mexico University teacher education programs.

On Richardson
Harden said he supported Gov. Bill Richardson’s plans to work with both parties, something he touched on during his State of the State speech on Tuesday.
“I support the governor’s comments on bipartisanship,” Harden said. “We need to work to come together and do what’s best for New Mexico.”
Kernen said she was pleased with what she has heard so far from the governor.
“We heard so many things prior to the opening session and we knew what the challenges were,” she said. “We want to do the best job that we can do.”

Money for lawmakers
Legislators got their money.
On Wednesday, the House approved a bill providing $4.1 million for expenses incurred during the session.
The legislation is headed to the Senate for a vote. It’s expected to be approved.
The legislation is commonly referred to as the “feed bill.”

Today’s Quote
“I haven’t seen any lines drawn in any place, but it’s just two days into it. A lot of lines could appear soon.” — Sen. Clint Harden, R-Clovis, discussing how the different parties need to work together this session.

Happening Today
House of Representatives
l 8:40 a.m. — Government and Urban Affairs Committee
l 1:30 p.m. — Full committee hearing (Children, Youth and Families Department, Juvenile justice program performance issues
l 2:30 p.m. — Supplemental, deficiencies, specials subcommittee
Consumer and Public Affairs committee, meeting 30 minutes after floor session ends.

Senate
Committee hearing with the office of the attorney general
Committee hearing with the office of the Secretary of State
Committee hearing with the office of the State Treasurer

Go Online
For more information on legislative issues go online to www.state.nm.us.
For a look at local and statewide legislative stories that have previously run in The Portales News-Tribune go online at www.pntonline.com and go to the New Mexico State Legislature 2004 link on the home page.