New Mexico governor signs auto-theft, daycare legislation

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Legislation signed Thursday by New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is aimed at deterring auto theft, protecting domestic violence victims, improving daycare for toddlers and encouraging businesses to hire youths raised in foster homes.

The Republican governor signed an assortment of nearly 20 bills that were sponsored by Democrats and GOP allies, while rejecting a proposed fee on pet food manufacturers to pay for dog and cat sterilizations as a wrongheaded tax increase.

Two signed bills are aim to addressing strangulation in domestic violence situations by increasing criminal penalties for aggravated battery when someone is violently choked and expanding prevention training at law enforcement academies that helps officers diagnose injuries from attempted strangulation.

Another approved measure will help keep the home address and other contact information of domestic violence victims secret from their abusers by issuing an alternate forwarding address.

A bill from Republican Sen. Bill Rehm of Albuquerque will create an auto theft prevention authority under the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance to help local law enforcement agencies handle auto-theft related crimes including insurance fraud. Auto theft rates in Albuquerque are among the highest in the nation.

The Children, Youth and Families Department will develop standards for early childhood care programs under another approved bill.

Martinez also endorsed an annual tax credit of up to $1,000 for employers who hire youths in state foster care or adults who previously spent time in foster care.

A fund traditionally used by New Mexico governors for social obligations will be subject to audits and detailed reporting of transactions starting next year, under legislation signed Thursday.

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