Call that first vote a false start. A state House of Representatives vote Tuesday to require front-end license plates on vehicles registered in New Mexico came a just few days after the chamber rejected the very same bill.
Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, a Democrat and former Albuquerque Police Department officer, had presented House Bill 158 as a public safety measure. He said requiring two license plates on each vehicle would help law enforcement identify vehicles involved in crimes.
But the issue — which would raise the annual vehicle registration fee by $2 — proved to be a lightning rod, with some House members reporting that they had received more emails from constituents on this bill than on any other.
The House voted down the bill on Saturday, and when members moved to bring it back up again, the House also voted down changes presented as something of a compromise.
The ensuing debate again proved to be one of the most impassioned of the session, with some arguing the measure is effectively a tax increase or at the very least an afront to the car culture of a state that is one of just 19 not to require front-end license plates.
Others countered it was common sense, especially as New Mexico notches the highest rate of automobile theft in the country.
On its second try, the bill passed 36-32 and goes next to the state Senate. But time is running out: The session ends at noon on Thursday.
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