Sen. Bill Burt, R-Alamogordo, plans this year to run two bills in an effort to ensure those who work in specialized industries will be able to maintain the careers they’ve held to support themselves and their families.
One bill seeks to help bar and restaurant servers who, as a first time offense, mistakenly provide alcohol to underage patrons. For that offense, servers can be charged with a fourth degree felony; however, the bill wants to change it to a misdemeanor, if it can be proven that the server made an honest mistake.
Burt said that most people in the restaurant industry have worked in it for many years, to the point of it becoming their livelihood. Despite the number of years they’ve spent in the industry, he said it is possible for them to possibly misread a patron’s ID.
If they were to be convicted of a felony for such a one-time mistake, they would never be able to work in that industry again. He said the bill wants to make it so that while servers would still face some kind of restitution, they won’t lose their careers.
Burt also plans to run a bill to make it easier and quicker for spouses of military service members stationed in New Mexico with jobs that require licenses to get their license renewed or re-issued in-state.
The process in place now can be difficult and take several months to complete, he said, and it can have a severe impact on that family’s ability to provide for itself.
Another bill the senator is working on would give “teeth” to law enforcement when it comes to prosecuting people who call in a school shooting or gun threats, regardless of whether they are hoaxes.
Now, if someone calls in such a threat, there is nothing on the books saying they have to be charged, Burt said, but the bill would apply the penalties in place for bomb threats to shooting threats.
“In light of what has happened here and in other places, we want everyone in New Mexico to know that we don’t take even idle threats casually,” he said.
Burt also will monitor the requests Roswell and Chaves County have made for state funds to use toward improvement projects to “make sure we get our fair share.”