Teen curfew debate starts in Roundhouse

SANTA FE (KRQE) –The anticipated debate over whether to allow New Mexico communities to impose a teen curfew, if they so choose, began Monday afternoon.

HB 29, named Stevie’s Law in honor of murdered Albuquerque bartender Steven Gerecke, cleared its first committee on a 4-3 party line vote. Gerecke was shot five times and killed in his driveway, police say while he was trying to stop a group of “mobbing” teens.

Stevie’s Law would allow local communities to impose a teen curfew but places limits on how far that curfew can go. Any curfew imposed couldn’t apply to anyone 16 or older, couldn’t criminally penalize either parents or children for violating it and would have to have a number of exceptions.

A teen couldn’t be considered in violation if they are with a parent or guardian, are returning from or going to work, has a “bona fide” emergency or is heading to or from a civic-sponsored, school sponsored or religious function.

Any local teen curfew couldn’t restrict any hours beyond school hours or between midnight and 5 a.m..

Business groups as well as the governor’s administration spoke out in favor of the bill at Monday’s committee hearing. A number of teens, the ACLU and family advocacy groups spoke out against the bill.

Those in favor say nothing good can happen if teens are out past midnight and the bill is needed for the safety of teens and the public. Those opposed are fearful of racial profiling and say it’s an ineffective knee-jerk reaction.

Stevie’s Law now moves to its second committee. Its sponsor, House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, has previously vowed it will be passed by the House in the first 15 days.

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