Thursday, February 6, 2003
Another Round in Cockfight Battle
By Kate Nash
Journal Capitol Bureau
SANTA FE The legislative debate over cockfighting in New Mexico isn't over yet.
Rep. Ron Godbey, R-Cedar Crest, introduced a measure to ban the controversial sport after another bill was shelved Tuesday on the other side of the Roundhouse by a Senate committee.
"It's a barbaric practice that long outlived its usefulness, if it ever had any usefulness," Godbey said Wednesday.
New Mexico and Louisiana are the only two states that haven't outlawed the sport.
Fifteen other New Mexico lawmakers signed onto Godbey's bill (HB 559). The co-sponsors include Democrats and Republicans who come from both urban and rural parts of the state.
The bill's introduction kept alive a long-standing debate over whether cockfighting is cruel to animals or a culturally significant sport the state should not interfere with.
Opponents argue the fights are inhumane while supporters say the events embrace a long-standing tradition. Hearings on cockfighting typically draw large crowds in the Roundhouse, and that was the case Tuesday when large numbers of cockfighters and fans crowded into the Capitol to make their sentiments known.
Legislators for years have tried to ban the practice. The bill by Sen. Steve Komadina, R-Corrales, tabled on a 5-4 vote Tuesday by the Senate Conservation Committee, would have done so this year.
The Senate committee vote came after almost three hours of testimony and debate.
Komadina suggested the New Mexico Legislature lacks the political will to do "the right thing" by banning cockfighting.
"Are we saying 48 other states are wrong? We think we have to do things differently," he said.
But Godbey said he thinks this could be the year that cockfighting is done away with in New Mexico.
"There is a lot of public sentiment against it out there," Godbey said.
Here is the vote by which the Senate Conservation Committee tabled a bill sponsored by Sen. Steve Komadina, R-Corrales, to ban cockfighting in New Mexico.
VOTING TO TABLE: Sens. Manny Aragon, D-Albuquerque; Carlos Cisneros, R-Questa; Dianna Duran, R-Tularosa; Phil Griego, D-San Jose; and Richard Martinez, D-Espanola.
VOTING AGAINST TABLING: Sens. Ramsay Gorham, R-Albuquerque; Don Kidd, R-Carlsbad; William Payne, R-Albuquerque; and Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe.