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Small business relief bill on way to governor


Legislation to provide $200 million in grants to New Mexico small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic cleared the Senate on a 41-1 vote Friday, Feb. 19, for final passage. Pat Woods, R-Broadview, cast the one “no” vote.

Businesses can qualify for up to $100,000, distributed in four quarterly payments. The program will be managed by the New Mexico Finance Authority. To qualify, businesses must have fewer than 75 employees and be able to demonstrate a loss for at least one quarter during the pandemic.

“New Mexico will continue to get meaningful financial assistance out the door to businesses all across the state,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a prepared statement. “Our economy will bounce back. And businesses will get back on their feet.”

Lujan Grisham also urged passage of Senate Bill 3, which would expand on a program to provide low-interest loans to small businesses. It has passed the Senate and is working its way through the House. 

Spaceport protection

Spaceport America would be able to maintain its limited liability protection from civil lawsuits under a bill passed unanimously Friday in the House. It now moves to the Senate.

House Bill 68 would remove a sunset clause from the 2013 Spaceport Informed Consent Act that was set to expire July 1. The protection from civil lawsuits only pertains to spaceflight participants. It would not apply to any damage caused on the ground from a downed spacecraft, or excuse negligence.

Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth of Consequences, said space commercialization was a $230 billion-a-year industry when she first came into the Legislature in 2017. It’s now up to about $400 billion, she said, and is expected to grow to $500 billion in the near future. “We’re poised, with our airspace, to keep us on the map and in front,” Dow said.

Aid in dying

Legislation that would allow health care workers to help terminally ill patients end their own lives passed the House on a 39-27 vote Friday.

House Bill 47 would allow terminally ill patients who have been certified as having six months or less to live to self-administer a painless but lethal prescription. The bill now moves to the Senate where a duplicate, Senate Bill 308, has also been introduced.

“In New Mexico, we value freedom and we believe New Mexicans who are in the midst of deep suffering should have the freedom to choose the end-of-life options that are right for them,” said sponsor Rep. Debbie Armstrong, D-Albuquerque, in a prepared statement.

Walter Rubel can be reached at waltrubel@gmail.com.