Santa Fe – Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed three bills that support New Mexico’s economic development, infrastructure, and jobs. House Bill 165, the Modifying High Wage Jobs Tax Credit Act, sponsored by Rep. Candie Sweetser (D-Deming); House Bill 176, the Broadband Telecomm Facility Gross Receipts Act, sponsored by Rep. Jim Trujillo (D-Santa Fe) and Sen. Carlos Cisneros (D-Questa); and House Bill 184, the Apprenticeship Program Income Tax Credits Act, sponsored by Rep. Linda Trujillo (D-Santa Fe).
House Bill 165 amends the high-wage jobs tax credit, which was changed in numerous ways during the 2016 special session to modify the credit. This bill will reduce the percent value of the credit from 10 percent to 8.5 percent but increase the annual per-job maximum by $750, and removes all business eligibility requirements other than eligibility for the Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP). The bill also reduces the number of weeks a job must be held from 48 to 44, and makes minor modifying language. House Bill 165 also removes most of the current restrictions preventing businesses from using the credit if they shed other jobs, and it reduces from five years to two years the restriction on claims by companies that previously ceased business operations.
House Bill 176 proposes a gross receipts tax and compensating tax deduction for the value of broadband telecommunications network facilities components. The purpose of the deduction is to promote the deployment of broadband telecommunications services in the state. The deduction is to be separately stated, but there is no penalty for failure to separately state the value of the deduction. The Tax and Revenue Department is required to gather the data and report annually to the legislature as to the cost and benefits of the deduction. The technical requirement is that network facilities must meet or exceed the federal communications commission “connect America” standards. The effective date of this bill is July 1, 2019. The provisions are repealed as of July 1, 2028.
House Bill 184 creates apprenticeship program income tax credits applicable to both the Income Tax Act and the Corporate Income and Franchise Tax Act. The credit allowed per “qualified apprentice” is $1,000 for a full year or $2,000 for a full year if the qualified apprentice received a high school diploma or high school equivalency credential less than four years prior to the apprenticeship. If the qualified apprentice is employed for less than the full taxable year but was employed for at least seven months during that year they are eligible for the credit but can only claim part of the credit based on the amount multiplied by the fraction of the full year the apprentice was employed.
“We have an opportunity to expand job training and apprenticeship programs, create jobs, and invest in our local communities by expanding broadband which we need to compete in today’s job market,” said Chairman of the Taxation and Revenue Committee, Rep. Jim Trujillo (D-Santa Fe). Our state’s economy is at a turning point, and we must invest in our state and people if we want to see things turn around. I am optimistic that these measures will make it through the Senate and will help enact the positive changes that our state needs.”
House Bill 165, House Bill 176, and House Bill 184 now head to the Senate for consideration.
SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Saturday announced the introduction of legislation that will leverage state broadband development funds to attract additional private investment in order to dramatically expand the state’s digital infrastructure.
HB 9 creates the Broadband Infrastructure Development Fund, enabling public agencies to enter into public-private partnerships for the development of broadband infrastructure across the state and providing $10 million for the awarding of grants and loans to local governments. Introduced by Reps. Candie Sweetser and Anthony Allison, the legislation addresses a pervasive issue across rural New Mexico, where the vast majority of our neighbors there lack access to high-speed broadband, and specifically ensures the inclusion of tribal nations and pueblos, which are plagued with some of the lowest internet access rates.
“Investments in broadband will be an incredible boon to rural New Mexico,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “Public-private broadband partnerships will expand this essential element of a modern, efficient and effective infrastructure system. I’m thrilled we can take action here and, as a result, see improvements in education and public safety while also boosting productivity and incomes across the state.”
“Broadband expansion for border and rural communities is essential for economic development, education, and security,” said Rep. Sweetser. “This legislation is a critical step forward to expand opportunities and ensure the success of workers and businesses throughout New Mexico. I am proud to work alongside the governor and all stakeholders to advance this initiative and invest in rural New Mexico.”
“New Mexico is a vast and diverse state, and expanding access to broadband will connect New Mexicans to new and exciting opportunities,” said Rep. Allison. “This legislation will improve internet reliability – especially for Native American communities – so that New Mexicans won’t have to drive miles to access the internet. It is time that we close the digital divide so that all our communities have the tools they need to thrive.”
Headlight Staff Reports Published 6:30 a.m. MT Jan. 30, 2019 Bills move to House Appropriations and Finance Committee
SANTA FE, NM – Rep. Candie Sweetser’s (D-Deming) bill to expand economic development opportunities passed the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee. House Bill 126 provides a $1.5 million appropriation to the economic development grant fund to help create jobs and grow the economy in all parts of the state. “By promoting economic development in communities across the state – including here in southwest New Mexico – we are growing the economy and creating jobs for New Mexico families,” said Rep. Sweetser. “In order to have long-term success, we must continue making these smart investments to increase opportunities and ensure economic security.”
Her home town of Deming ranks among the most economically depressed counties in New Mexico.
HB 126 appropriates $1.5 million to the Economic Development Grant Fund to provide funding for local and regional economic development organizations to hire economic development professionals, which would enhance local economic development job creation efforts. Although the Economic Development Grant Fund was created in 2014, it has never been funded.
House Democrats understand that local development organizations are often the best advocates for their communities, and this appropriation provides the needed resources and tools to empower them.
House Bill 126 now heads to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.
Sweetser also introduce a bill last week to provide food and agriculture education to New Mexico students passed the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee. House Bill 125 would create an appropriation for agriculture education and experiential learning grants to school programs.
“In New Mexico, we know how important it is for young people to have every opportunity to succeed,” said Sweetser. “We also know that getting agriculture literacy throughout our state is crucial for students to remember where their food, fiber, and fuel originates. This is a community-driven program that connects our students to their land and the deep roots of our state.”
House Democrats understand the vital contributions of rural communities, farming and ranching to New Mexico and this bill serves to protect and expand youth’s awareness of food and agriculture. House Bill 125 also moved to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee for consideration.
DEMING - Early College High School and Deming High School Students were in Santa Fe on January 23, 2018 to participate in the New Mexico Speaker’s Academy at the State Legislature.
Students enjoyed dinner with local legislators, Representative Candie Sweetser and Senator John Arthur Smith, were they learned the importance of political process. Sweetser said, “It’s a breath of fresh air to see students engaging in the political process. Thank you Dr. Romero for setting this up.”
Students were delighted to be guided around Santa Fe by Deming Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Arsenio Romero.
Students met in the Governor’s conference room, where they discussed education policy including high stakes testing, bilingual education, and teachers pay with Lt. Governor Howie Morales and Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham.
DEMING – Thursday, a bill to provide food and agriculture education to New Mexico students passed the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee.
House Bill 125, sponsored by Rep. Candie Sweetser (D-Deming), would create an appropriation for agriculture education and experiential learning grants to school programs.
Representative Sweetser said, “In New Mexico, we know how important it is for young people to have every opportunity to succeed. We also know that getting agriculture literacy throughout our state is crucial for students to remember where their food, fiber, and fuel originates. This is a community-driven program that connects our students to their land and the deep roots of our state.”
House Democrats understand the vital contributions of rural communities, farming and ranching to New Mexico and this bill serves to protect and expand youth’s awareness of food and agriculture.
House Bill 125 now moves to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, and two Senate Committees for consideration before going to the Senate Floor.
New Mexico Legislature’s Science, Technology and Telecommunications Committee meeting Sept. 24-25 in Deming and Columbus*
(Deming) – The New Mexico Legislature’s Science, Technology and Telecommunications Committee will meet Sept. 24-25 in Deming and Columbus.
State Representative Candie Sweetser (D-Deming) serves as vice-chair of the committee.
The Sept. 24 meeting will start at 9 a.m. at the Andres Z. Silva Conference Center with local officials welcoming lawmakers to the community, followed by a project-status update from the state Department of Information Technology presented by Acting Secretary Estevan Lujan.
Lawmakers will tour the algae farm west of Columbus where Omega 3 fatty acids are being harvested for human and animal feed supplements. They also plan to visit the new international port of entry being built south of Columbus.
Other agenda topics tentatively include science and technology needs for a global minerals’ development firm, an update on the New Mexico State University Sunspot Consortium, education for careers in aquaponic farming, developments in cloud computing for public agencies and cybersecurity, and cross-walking data bases to increase efficiency for driver's license renewals.
All sessions are open to the public, and there will be a public comment period.
Check the Legislature’s website (www.nmlegis.gov) for the full agenda.
Tuesday, July 24, 2018
The state of New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the United States. Its capital is Santa Fe. New Mexico is bordered by Oklahoma and Texas on the east. The south is bordered by Texas, Chihuahua, and Sonora. The west is surrounded by Arizona while the north is bordered by Colorado. New Mexico shares a 190 mile border with Mexican states Chihuahua and Sonora. New Mexico’s climate is mostly arid. The land is composed of mountains, high plains, and deserts which range from rose-colored, to broken mesas, to snow-capped peaks. The land is mostly dry and gets little water, yet, New Mexico is heavily forested in the north. New Mexico has an area of around 121,665 square miles and is the fifth biggest state in the United States; however, with a population of about 2 million persons, New Mexico is the sixth most sparsely inhabited U.S. state. The economy of New Mexico is focused on oil, gas production, and tourism.
New Mexico shares three ports of entry with Mexican state Chihuahua including: Antelope Wells, New Mexico with El Berrendo, Chihuahua; Columbus, New Mexico with Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua; and Santa Teresa, New Mexico with San Jerónimo, Chihuahua.
Algernon D'Ammassa, The Deming Headlight
Published 9:00 a.m. MT Feb. 28, 2018 | Updated 5:00 p.m. MT March 1, 2018
Oil and gas revenue provided breathing room, but challenges remain
DEMING – “When you have money, the tone is better,” observed Sen. John Arthur Smith. At the 2018 legislative session, the tone was much better than last year.
On the other hand, Smith – who has served in the state Senate since 1989 – suggested short memories or wishful thinking can overrule fiscal prudence.
New Mexico's 30-day legislative session concluded on Feb. 15, and Deming’s delegation to the Roundhouse, Sen. Smith and Rep. Candie Sweetser (both D-Deming), both reflected on a month when lawmakers sent a $6.3 billion budget to Gov. Susana Martinez without the partisan rancor or threats of furloughs that defined last year’s session.
Sweetser described the tone as bipartisan and genial throughout, in contrast to the "baptism of fire" she witnessed as a freshman legislator last year.
With an upturn in oil and gas revenue beginning last fall, lawmakers were able to restore money that had been swept from state agencies and school district accounts, fund more projects, and boost pay for teachers, state police, and other state workers.
More: Who won, who lost the 2018 legislative session
"The process was much more positive than working on state budget solvency, freezing positions, and cutting funding," said Sweetser.
Smith, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said he was pleased to see cash reserves replenished to an extent. He also fended off an effort to raise distributions from New Mexico's Land Grant Permanent Fund to 6 percent from 5 percent as a way to fund early childhood programs.
Smith has stated the proposed amendment to the state Constitution did not have enough votes to pass his committee anyway, but he also philosophically opposes raising distributions from the Permanent Fund past 5 percent. “Most people don’t realize what it does," said Smith. "They just see a pile of money there to be spent, but that’s an endowment fund.”
The fund distributed $638 million, mostly for public education, in Fiscal Year 2017, according to the State Investment Council.
MORE: Finance chair John Arthur Smith holds sway over child-related funding
Smith was supportive of pay increases and said low compensation for corrections officers and judges has created a crisis. “New Mexico has the lowest judicial compensation in the country," he told the Headlight. "Whenever there’s a vacancy coming up in the judiciary, getting applicants that are seasoned attorneys that have been in practice or a while is virtually impossible.” Smith also called attrition by corrections officers "unsustainable."
Two bills carried by Sweetser made it to the Governor's desk. House Bill 207 became law on March 1, creating a fund for broadband infrastructure for public, school, and tribal libraries in New Mexico, and giving libraries a boost in seeking federal grants.
Representing a city that is home to two award-winning wineries, the Deming lawmakers worked together on a bill allowing New Mexico wineries and brewers to sell their beverages at private events away from their places of business.
Another bill Sweetser sponsored, House Bill 200, would have created a tax incentive for employers filling high-wage jobs in the state, but did not pass the Senate.
More: State Representative Candie Sweetser's two House bills move on
Sweetser and Smith agreed that diversifying the state's economy so that it is cushioned from downturns in one industry requires study and consensus-building between legislative sessions. To this, Sweetser added that attrition from the state slows economic growth and concentrates the tax burden on a smaller population.
A new Governor will be elected before the next regular session, and whoever that is, Smith said, "The next administration is going to have to talk about a reliable revenue stream. When you’re 32 or 33 percent either indirectly or directly related to oil and gas, you’re leaving yourself extremely vulnerable.”
This story has been updated. A previous version of the story claimed that HB 200 had passed the Senate. It has also been updated regarding the status of HB 207.
More: Sweetser honors Deming teacher in NM legislature
Algernon D'Ammassa can be reached at 575-546-2611 (ext. 2608) or email@example.com.