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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
DATE: Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Contact: Shaya Torres
Santa Fe – A bill to expand internet access in schools and libraries across the state was signed into law by the Governor. HB 207, introduced by Representative Candie Sweetser (D-Deming), would appropriate money from the general fund for broadband infrastructure in public school, tribal, and community libraries.
“Too many communities, particularly those in rural areas, understand the difficulty of accessing the internet from home. This bipartisan legislation invests in broadband infrastructure so that all New Mexicans can have access to the internet in their schools and libraries, which is critical for New Mexicans to be able to succeed,” said Rep. Candie Sweetser. “I am glad Governor Martinez shares this same vision for our state’s libraries and signed this legislation.”
This legislation was a true grassroots effort, with the idea first suggested by Deming High School librarian, Teresa Ortiz, who chairs a statewide subcommittee aimed at helping school, public, and tribal libraries attain better broadband access for students and community members.
In New Mexico, the digital divide has the potential to constrain economic development. HB 207 is a bipartisan effort to close the gap, sponsored by Reps. Candie Sweetser (D-Deming), Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-Los Alamos), and James E. Smith (R-Sandia Park) with help from Senator John Arthur Smith (D-Deming).
*story also on: www.demingradio.com
Headlight Staff Reports Published 4:04 p.m. MT Feb. 15, 2018 | Updated 4:09 p.m. MT Feb. 15, 2018Bill would improves internet access n schools, librariesSANTA FE, N.M. – A bill to expand internet access in schools and libraries across the state passed the Senate Floor and is headed to the Governor’s desk. HB 207, introduced by Candie G. Sweetser (D-Deming), would appropriate money from the general fund for broadband infrastructure in public school, tribal, and community libraries.
“Internet access connects our communities, from across the state to around the world. This bill will positively impact New Mexicans by providing them more opportunity for success. I’m so proud to have had bipartisan support on this important bill,” said Rep. Candie Sweetser.
In New Mexico, the digital divide has a negative impact on economic development. HB 207 is a bipartisan effort sponsored by Reps. Candie Sweetser (D-Deming), Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-Los Alamos), and James E. Smith (R-Sandia Park) with help from Senator John Arthur Smith, that will help close that gap.
DATE: Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Contact: Shaya Torres
Santa Fe, NM – The House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 200, introduced by Reps. Candie Sweetser (D-Deming) and Carl Trujillo (D-Santa Fe), that would encourage urban and rural businesses to create and fill new high-wage jobs in New Mexico. HB 200 will promote economic development across the state.
“Job creation and investments in our communities are needed to promote economic success, but over the past few years our rural communities have struggled. This bill aims to give rural communities the tools to increase economic stability for our families,” said Rep. Candie Sweetser.
“This bill benefits both rural and urban communities by promoting high-wage job creation and economic development. Improving our state’s workforce is key to a successful economy, and investing in our state so our children want to and can live here when they are grown is crucial,” said Rep. Carl Trujillo.
HB 200 now moves to the Senate for consideration.