The New Mexico House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill that would reinstate the death penalty for select crimes Thursday morning strictly along party lines.
The measure passed the House with 36 votes in favor, and 30 opposed. The bill heads to the state Senate next, but reports indicate the Senate will not take up the measure this session.
Republican Rep. Monica Youngblood sponsored the bill, which sought to overturn the 2009 that repealed the state’s death penalty. Youngblood attempted to reassure Democrats that the bill would only apply, “When a child is murdered, when a law enforcement officer is murdered or a corrections officer is murdered.”
Democrats, let by Gail Chasey assert that the bill is too much, and that the risk of potentially executing an innocent prisoner is too great to allow the policy. “I think the risk of a wrongful execution, perhaps it is not huge, it but it is real and it needs to be addressed,” Democratic House Minority Leader Brian Egolf said during open remarks.
“We would never execute an innocent person,” Youngblood responded.
Democrats also took issue with the fact that House Republicans sponsored the bill through the Appropriations committee instead of the traditional Judiciary committee for this type of legislation.
“Running these bills through the Appropriations committee was inappropriate,” Egolf said, adding that the Appropriations committee doesn’t have legal counsel to consult on such matters.
Youngblood defended such attacks by adding that the language for much of the bill is derived from the bill that stood for 30 years before it was repealed.
New Mexico is one of 20 states that repealed their death penalty, including the state of Delaware, who repealed their death penalty earlier this year. The list includes Maryland, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia.
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