Controversial bill would require ignition locks on all vehicles

David Arkin

A bill packed with controversy and expense is headed to the Senate for consideration.
The House on Monday approved a bill that would require ignition locks to be put on all new vehicles starting in 2008. Used vehicles would have to have the devices on cars for sale by 2009.
The House approved the move on a 45-22 vote.
It was estimated that the devices would cost about $600 to install per vehicle. The financial impact on consumers would be significant, Moore said.
Moore said the fiscal impact on New Mexicans for the devices could be between $500-600 million.
Moore voted against the move.
“It’s hard to not be in support of something that would help with DWI,” he said. “But it requires manufacturers and whoever is selling used cars, no matter what the price might be, to install these devices.”
Moore said he hoped the price of the devices would be reduced considerably.
“There’s a continual cost to keep them updated,” he said. “But I guess they’re no different than air bags and seat belts. You just have to decide if it’s worth it.”
The cost of the devices is something that Ingle said will weigh heavily on his decision.
“I will have to take a hard look at it,” Ingle said. “I don’t know if we need to add that cost to cars. I don’t have a firm yes or no.”

Capital outlay bill approaching
The highly anticipated $400 million capital outlay bill could be introduced today.
The bill includes thousands of dollars for projects in eastern New Mexico.
The Senate on Monday was putting finishing touches on their capital outlay bill.
“There have been a lot of discussions between the governor about who is doing what and who is getting what,” Moore said. “If the Senate gets their act together we could see the bill today.”
Even if the high-dollar bill does get approved by both the House and Senate, it could be killed by the governor.
“Gov. Johnson vetoed the entire thing the first year I was up here,” Moore said.
Ingle said he was hopeful that requests he put in would get the green light.
“I have a lot of requests in,” he said. “I think 99 percent of my requests will come through just fine.”
Ingle didn’t want to share what requests he submitted until they were approved.

Budget issues
Several items in a House-compromise budget that was passed on Sunday night did not please an area lawmaker.
The House’s new budget spends $4.4 billion. It included $20 million more in spending than an earlier House-approved budget.
The budget proposal was approved by the House on a 42-23 vote.
Moore voted against the new budget.
“We may not be in a deficit, but that’s because we increased everyone’s taxes and passed several fee increases,” Moore said.
One of Moore’s biggest problems with the budget was what lawmakers did with the Medicaid crisis. Or in Moore’s opinion, what lawmakers didn’t do.
“There’s a bunch of people up here who think that we should spend whatever we need to spend to save Medicaid and they think that we have Medicaid under control. But we’re not fixing it.”
Ingle also had issues with the budget.
“There are some things in there that I’m not terribly excited about,” he said. “There is more money in there for the governor to spend on his mansion. But overall, I have sat through worse budgets.”
Ingle said the state needed to be careful about raising fees and taxes.
“We need to be careful about what we are doing,” he said. “Our approach to some things is not good.”
Lawmakers have approved a move that increases tax on health insurance premiums by 1 percent. They have also implemented an $8.82 a day charge for occupied beds at nursing homes, residential treatment centers and intermediate care facilities for the mentally retarded.

Act to aid Roosevelt County passes the Senate
A bill that would be crucial for Roosevelt County’s fiscal picture got the approval of the Senate on Monday.
An amendment to the Small County’s Assistant Act, which would provide a reoccurring $100,000 to the county’s budget has now been approved by both the House and Senate and should be headed for the governor’s desk.
A bill created to increase cash allocations to small counties requires those counties having a property value topping $200 million to have three general gross receipts taxes in place to get funds from the state.
Roosevelt County has two of the three in place, and a property value just over $200 million, leaving it ineligible for $100,000 in the past.
But an amendment to that bill would allow a county to qualify for the funds by only having two general gross receipts taxes in place.
Ingle said he was pleased that the act is being fixed.
“We kind of got nipped out of the funding last year,” he said. “It wasn’t intentional, but we would like to get it fixed this year.”

Ingle’s bill on governor’s desk
A bill sponsored by a Portales lawmaker is on the governor’s desk.
The bill, which Ingle submitted would allow “neighborhood electric cars” to be driven on some New Mexico streets.
Through the legislation, the vehicle would be referred to as “neighborhood electric car,” and would be a four-wheeled electric motor vehicle that has a maximum speed of more than 20 miles per hour, but it couldn’t go over 25 miles per hour.
Martin Sanchez of Big Valley Ford in Portales said the electric cars, also called jams, sell for between $5,000 and $10,000. Chavez said he was in Santa Fe not long ago demonstrating the cars to lawmakers.
Sanchez said Big Valley is the only dealership in New Mexico that sells jams. He said he’s sold roughly 75 jams in the last year.
“A lot of government facilities are using them,” Sanchez said. “You save anywhere from $1,200 to $1,500 on fuel costs alone.”
The vehicles would have to have head lamps, stop lamps, front and rear turn signal lamps, tail lamps, reflex reflectors, a parking brake, at least one interior and one exterior rear view mirror, a windshield, windshield wipers, a speedometer, an odometer, braking for each wheel, seat belts and a vehicle identification number.
Local officials, in any city, could rule that the vehicles couldn’t be driven on certain streets because of safety concerns.
The highway department would have the same authority.
Ingle said he expected the legislation to be approved.
“I don’t think the governor will have a problem with it,” he said.

Happening Today
l Noon — City of Belen Box Lunches for Legislators and First Floor Staff
l 5 p.m. — Agricultural Community Ag. Feed, Capitol Rotunda

The Numbers
15: Bill passed by both the House and Senate
233: Bill passed by the House
159: Bills passed by the Senate.