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Committee OKs coyote ban, sends it to full House

SANTA FE – A bill aimed at halting coyote-killing contests in New Mexico is just one step from Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk.

Senate Bill 268, which would make it a crime to organize or participate in a coyote-killing contest, passed the House Judiciary Committee 7-4 on Wednesday. It now goes to the House floor.

Backers of the legislation have described the contests as immoral.

“This is really not about hunting – it’s about killing animals for fun,” said Kevin Bixby, executive director of the Southwest Environmental Center during Wednesday’s hearing.

But ranchers and other critics have opposed the bill as unenforceable and misguided, saying coyotes can wreak havoc on calves, sheep and other livestock.

The bill would make organizing a coyote-killing contest a misdemeanor offense but would not affect individuals simply protecting their property.

Guns in capitol: The open carry of firearms inside the state Capitol would be outlawed under a bill that’s headed to the House floor.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 8-5 on Wednesday to endorse the legislation, which would still let residents with a valid permit carry a gun into the Roundhouse, if they keep it concealed.

Senate Bill 337, which has already passed the Senate 29-12, also exempts law enforcement officers.

It was proposed this year in response to several instances of people openly carrying weapons into the Roundhouse.

But critics say it would violate New Mexicans’ constitutional rights and wouldn’t guarantee public safety.

“At least with open carry, the security staff knows who bears watching,” said Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, during Wednesday’s hearing.

CONVENTION: The Legislature has voted to rescind New Mexico’s decades-old applications for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution.

The state House voted to take back the applications last month, and the Senate on Wednesday agreed. The governor’s signature is not needed.

House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, and other Democrats argued that a constitutional convention could be used to roll back the First Amendment and other civil rights. Republicans argued that a convention could impose new limits on the power of the federal government.

It would take two-thirds of the states – at least 34 – to call a convention under Article V of the U.S. Constitution. New Mexico was one of 27 states that had called for such a convention, according to legislative analysts.

The original applications were passed in 1951, 1965 and 1976.

AID IN DYING: The Senate late Wednesday rejected a proposal that would have allowed terminally ill New Mexico patients to end their lives with help from a doctor.

The Senate voted 20-22 against Senate Bill 252, which would allow qualifying adult patients to obtain prescriptions from doctors for drugs the patients would have to self-administer.

Six other states and the District of Columbia allow residents to end their lives legally with medication prescribed by a physician.

The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled last year terminally ill patients don’t have a right to a physician’s assistance in dying under the law as it now stands.

Guns, abuse: The House voted 43-22 late Wednesday in favor of a bill that would allow a court to order someone to give up his or her firearms in cases of domestic abuse.

Senate Bill 259, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, calls for a court to order someone to give up his or her guns if there’s a finding of domestic abuse and a credible threat of physical violence.

The order would remain in effect as long as there’s an order of protection barring the person from abusing the “protected” household member.