Cockfighting ban passes in House

Staff and Wire Reports

Staff and Wire Reports
SANTA FE — A proposed ban on cockfighting remains alive in the New Mexico Legislature, where the House on Tuesday voted for it overwhelmingly.
The bill went to the Senate on a vote of 50-15 after brief debate.
“We are as game as the gamecocks to stay in this fight,” said Danielle Bays of Animal Protection Voters, which is pushing for the prohibition.
Prospects for the bill in the Senate are uncertain. A similar ban was tabled recently by the Senate Conservation Committee.
“I think there’s a lot of senators who would like to see this passed,” Bays said.
Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, is not one of them. Ingle feels that cockfighting is a decision best left to each county, and that’s why he would vote against the ban if it reaches the Senate floor.
“I think there are (about) 15 counties in this state that have banned cockfighting,” Ingle said. “That’s far enough.”
New Mexico and Louisiana are the only states that still allow cockfighting.
“I think we’re in the 21st century. We ought to act like it,” said Rep. Dianne Hamilton, R-Silver City.
Thirteen counties and 29 municipalities in the state have cockfighting bans, but the bill’s supporters said the patchwork of ordinances is ineffective because the violations are misdemeanors.
“As long as it remains a misdemeanor, it’s going to continue to be a problem throughout the state,” said Rep. Richard Cheney, R-Farmington, a co-sponsor of the legislation.
The bill would make violations of the state ban a fourth-degree felony.
“I think this is something we need to send a clear signal statewide on,” said Rep. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, the bill’s sponsor.
But some lawmakers think the issue ought to be left up to local governments.
“I think we’re overstepping our bounds,” Rep. Keith Gardner, R-Roswell, said.
Rep. Avon Wilson, R-Roswell, said cockfighting still flourishes in some states that have banned it and that would be true of New Mexico as well.
“If we vote to make cockfighting illegal, that’s all we will have done… It’s going to continue,” Wilson said.