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          Front Page


Friday, March 14, 2003

Around the Roundhouse

Staff and Wire Reports
    DWI MEASURE HEADS TO GOV.
    SANTA FE A measure aimed at improving enforcement of drunken-driving laws through an exchange of state and tribal traffic records has gone to the governor for his signature.
    It won final approval from the Legislature on Thursday, with the Senate's unanimous vote.
    The legislation would authorize the state Motor Vehicle Division to enter into agreements with tribal governments to exchange information on traffic violations.
    The state agency would also be given the power to suspend a driver's license based on a conviction in tribal court, such as a drunken- driving conviction.
    Supporters of the measure say it will help New Mexico deal with repeat drunken driving offenders who may have convictions in both state courts and tribal courts.
   

    PARTNER INSURANCE BILL REJECTED
    SANTA FE The House rejected a measure Thursday that would have required insurance companies to offer coverage for same-sex domestic partners if they are included in a group health insurance plan.
    Rep. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, said the bill would have guaranteed coverage if employers decided to offer health insurance benefits to the domestic partner of a worker or the partner's child.
    The bill would not have forced employers to provide the coverage, she emphasized.
    The bill failed on a 30-30 tie vote.
   

    SENATE APPROVES CONVICTION FEE
    SANTA FE A $5 fee would be imposed on criminal convictions and traffic violations to pay for domestic violence treatment programs under a bill approved by the Senate.
    Supporters said the measure could help reduce domestic violence by providing needed money to treat offenders.
    The Senate passed the bill 30-7 on Wednesday and sent it to the House, which has approved a similar proposal.
    The fee would be imposed on a person convicted of a felony, misdemeanor, petty misdemeanor or a traffic violation.
   

    TRAVEL PLAN GOES TO HOUSE
    SANTA FE Legislators would be able to receive more money to reimburse them for travel on interim committee business under a bill approved by the Senate on Thursday.
    The measure would allow legislators to receive a $145 reimbursement for an additional day if they travel at least 100 miles on official business for a committee meeting when the Legislature is not in session.
   

    CONTRACEPTION BILL GOES TO GOV.
    SANTA FE A bill requiring hospital emergency rooms to offer emergency contraception to rape victims is headed to Gov. Bill Richardson's desk.
    The Senate approved it 25-14 on Thursday. The House had approved it earlier.
    Supporters say emergency contraception could prevent unwanted pregnancies resulting from sexual assaults.
    "I really believe this is an important bill, and I think it helps women across the state of New Mexico," said Senate Judiciary Chairman Michael Sanchez, D-Belen.
    Emergency rooms would be required to provide rape victims with information about emergency contraception, known as the "morning-after pill," and provide the drug to victims who request it.
    At least one lawmaker who voted no said he viewed it as abortion.
    "Since some of us believe this is actually aborting, it's a whole different issue from providing contraception," said Sen. Leonard Lee Rawson, R-Las Cruces.