Senator weighs in on cockfighting ban

By CNJ staff

The state Senate voted Thursday 33-11 in favor of a cockfighting ban in New Mexico.

Of the 11 dissenting votes, two were representatives for Curry County — Clint Harden, R-Clovis, and Stuart Ingle, R-Portales.

Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, voted for the ban.

Harden said he objected because the measure was unnecessary. Harden said 12 counties in New Mexico have already banned cockfighting, so it doesn’t need to be handled as a state matter.

“My philosophy is the best government is a government that’s closest to the people,” Harden said. “The county has had an opportunity to ban it for some years now.”

Harden had other objections to the measure as well, though some were alleviated during the bill’s time in Senate debate.

Harden admitted he was bothered by the severity of the penalties in the original bill, which included felony punishments for those who raise chickens for cockfighting or fund those who do as well as for those who watch or attend cockfights.

An amendment to the bill made a first offense a petty misdemeanor, a second offense a misdemeanor and a third offense a felony. Amendments also eliminated punishments for people who do nothing to stop a cockfight from taking place.

The other objection Harden had was that he got no indication from a Judiciary Committee session that the ban wouldn’t pave the way to bans on rodeo events, hunting and fishing.

Kernan and Ingle did not return calls seeking comment.