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2021 NEW MEXICO LEGISLATURE

Support for rural air service passes House

Posted

Legislation designed to increase air service to rural parts of the state passed the New Mexico House of Representatives on a 55-8 vote Thursday, March 11, and now moves to the Senate.

House Bill 325 would provide grants to municipal or county governments to expand or begin air service. Those with existing air service could receive grants up to $1.25 million with a 50 percent local match; and those without existing service could receive up to $1.75 million with a 20 percent match. The funds would assist airlines in establishing regional service.

“Those throughout our state deserve to have local avenues to get to regional hub airports, like Denver, Phoenix and Dallas, rather than having to drive hours and hours in addition to their flight time,” said Rep. Nathan Small, D-Las Cruces, a cosponsor of the bill.

Time for a change

House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, expressed his support Thursday for Senate Bill 367 sponsored by Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, which would create a new commission to thoroughly review the state constitution. It passed the Senate on a 40-2 vote and is now awaiting a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.

“I think Sen. Cervantes’ legislation setting up a commission to basically set the stage for a constitutional convention is an excellent idea and I would love to see that happen,” Egolf said. “There are many, many reasons that we would benefit from a state constitutional convention, and I was pleased to see the Senate send that over.”

Egolf said he also supported House Joint Resolution 12, which would amend the constitution to establish a new commission to set salaries for elected officials. HJR 12 has passed the House and is now in the Senate Rules Committee.

Help with bills

Legislation to help those financially impacted by the pandemic keep their lights on and stay warm in the winter is advancing in the Senate after having previously passed the House.

House Bill 206 gives those who have fallen behind on their utility bills two months to pay back for each month they owe. It would also forgive half of the total amount owed by low-income customers. The bill passed the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee on a 7-3 vote Thursday, and now heads to the Senate Finance Committee.

“The partial arrears forgiveness program in HB 206 provides a way to keep tens of thousands of New Mexican families connected to essential utilities while they get back on their feet,” said Rep. Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces, a co-sponsor.

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