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Around the Capitol

Journal Staff Reports
   
Drug, Alcohol Classes Proposed
    SANTA FE— Sen. Joe Carraro has introduced a bill that would require schools statewide to teach the effects of alcohol, drug and tobacco use.
    Senate Bill 410 would require schools to offer the three-hour classes, twice a year, in grades four through 12.
    "I think it should be part of the curriculum," Carraro said. "I talked with officials (at the Public Education Department) who said it would not cost more money to provide six hours of classroom education."
    Carraro, R-Albuquerque, said advocacy groups would help provide the education. People who have been victims of DWI crashes and those whose loved ones have been killed by drunken drivers have volunteered to teach the courses, he said.
   
Plan Gives DAs 5% Pay Increase
    SANTA FE— District attorneys would get a 5 percent pay raise under a measure introduced in the House by Rep. Thomas Swisstack, D-Rio Rancho.
    Various law-enforcement groups are supporting the proposal, HB 406, which has been approved by the House Judiciary Committee.
    "We have done a great job of implementing new laws, but we have to stabilize prosecutors so we can adjudicate these cases quickly," Swisstack said Tuesday.
    Swisstack said the bill aims to bring the pay for New Mexico prosecutors to parity with other states' district attorneys. The measure carries a $2.6 million appropriation. It is headed to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.
   
Measure Extends Teaching License
    SANTA FE— New teachers could teach for up to five years on a beginning teachers license under a bill approved Tuesday by the House.
    The House approved the measure, Committee Substitute for HB 84, on a 58-3 vote. The bill heads to the Senate for consideration.
    New teachers currently are allowed to teach for three years on a beginning teachers license.
   
83% in Poll Back Pre-Kindergarten
    SANTA FE— Gov. Bill Richardson on Tuesday released the results of a poll that showed 83 percent of the New Mexico respondents support a voluntary pre-kindergarten program he is backing.
    Richardson supports legislation (HB 337 and SB 360) to appropriate $9 million for the first year of the program.
    The governor said the poll reflects "overwhelming support" for a voluntary pre-kindergarten program.
    But the poll also shows just 22 percent of respondents said making voluntary pre-kindergarten education accessible to all 4-year-olds was the most important way to ensure that children begin kindergarten prepared.
    The poll was conducted by the Albuquerque firm Research and Polling Inc. It is based on a sample of 500 New Mexicans and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
    The poll interviews were conducted by telephone Jan. 21-30.
    The nonprofit New Mexico Community Foundation paid for the poll with a grant from the Trust for Early Education.