N.M. HOUSE News:
SANTA FE—Omaree’s Law, House Bill 333, sponsored by House Speaker W. Ken Martinez, D-Bernalillo, Cibola McKinley, Socorro, San Juan, Valencia, was passed on the floor of the House on a 52 to 11 vote and now heads to the Senate.
House Bill 333, sponsored by Martinez and co-sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Sandoval, Rio Arriba, Rep. Emily Kane, D-Bernalillo, and Rep. Liz Thomson, D-Bernalillo, requires CYFD to immediately take custody of children showing specific injuries of abuse, and requires the parents, guardians or custodians to complete counseling before taking custody of a child in certain circumstances.
The bill adds language to the Children’s Code that if specific injuries are found on a child’s body, CYFD is to take custody of the child immediately. This bill requires mandatory hold and hearing.
The injuries that are listed are: burns, bruises, multiple bruises, lacerations, welts, bone fractures, bite marks, multiple similar injuries or bruises, simultaneously present on a child’s body, which are in various stages of healing, and any other injury that can be reasonably believed to be caused by abuse.
After the child is taken into custody a hearing will be held within in 48 hours. Under certain circumstances, parents, guardians or custodians, with a history of substantiated abuse and neglect claims, will be required to attend counseling before the child is returned home.
Omaree Varela, tragically, was beaten to death in Albuquerque. There were substantiated reports of abuse and bite marks.
*The bill was amended by Rep. Doreen Gallegos, D-Dona Ana, to add language at the end of the bill to ensure that the bill comports with the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 and Section 32A-4-6 NMSA 1978.