July 14, 2023

Opioid epidemic, public safety among NM projects in appropriations bills

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich.

Democratic New Mexican Sen. Martin Heinrich announced Thursday that the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee passed a bill that allocates $11.8 million for 34 projects in New Mexico.

The committee passed the Fiscal Year 2024 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill and Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill Thursday. It goes next to the full Senate.

“As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I’m proud to have the opportunity to directly advocate for the needs of New Mexicans in our annual government funding legislation,” Heinrich said in a news release. “These bills make substantial investments in the resources law enforcement officials and medical providers need to protect the safety and well-being of families across our state, including by removing barriers to life-saving opioid use disorder treatments and providing more tools to combat the flow of illicit fentanyl… This federal funding will also help promote and nurture the talent and potential we have in New Mexico by supporting our local small businesses, arts organizations, non-profits, and cultural institutions—all vital to strengthening our economy and growing our middle class.”

The appropriations include increased funding for Taxpayer Services at the Internal Revenue Service. The bill also encourages the IRS to improve its hiring processes and address servicing backlogs for tax credits.

The Employee Retention Tax Credits is one such tax credit. Heinrich helped businesses and nonprofits recover $36.9 million from that tax credit over the last year, the news release states.

Some of the justice, commerce and science projects in the appropriations bills direct a new fentanyl tracking system from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“This system will track and document where fentanyl is seized, the chemical composition of seized substances, probable or known manufacturing location, and probable or known point of entry into the United States. This new comprehensive tracking system will be critical to better understanding the movement of illicit drugs into and within the United States and more effectively combating the fentanyl drug epidemic,” the news release states.

Another project is the ballistic intelligence expansion to the southwest border region through the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network.

“This expansion will assist New Mexico in identifying and prosecuting crimes involving firearms through ballistic intelligence, and also build on Senator Heinrich’s successful effort to prohibit the trafficking of firearms out of the United States,” the news release states.

Heinrich also included language in the bills to direct the DEA to work to remove barriers for opioid use disorder medications which clarifies the difference between suspicious opioid orders and suspicious buprenorphine in the Suspicious Orders Report System.

“This effort will assist local medical and mental health providers looking to remove bureaucratic barriers to accessing prescriptions for buprenorphine, a life-saving medication,” the news release states.

Local projects include the following from the FSGG Appropriations bill:

  • $338,000 for the New Mexico Small Business Development Center to provide free business management training sessions, including programs for hard-to-reach rural clients and minority, underserved populations.
  • $307,000 for DreamSpring to expand its online technical assistance and training materials in English and Spanish for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
  • $300,000 for Three Sisters Kitchen’s Manufactured Food Business Training Program to launch Spanish language programming for hands-on training and technical assistance for low-income, aspiring food business entrepreneurs in Bernalillo County.
  • $250,000 for the Partnership for Community Action to start the Quality Child Care Matters Program, which will train small businesses and entrepreneurs to fill critical community needs such as childcare.
  • $250,000 for the Roswell Museum and Art Center to digitize their collection and make it accessible to the public online.
  • $225,000 for the Keshet Ideas and Innovation Community (KIIC) to provide technical assistance in funding strategies, marketing, and industry best practices for small businesses and arts entrepreneurs working in the creative industries.
  • $200,000 for Luna County to provide community outreach, education, and alternative activities for youth in the Deming and Columbus area to encourage substance-use prevention.
  • $200,000 for DreamSpring to hire a Community Engagement Officer to provide one-on-one technical assistance in English and Spanish to rural small businesses.
  • $200,000 for the University of New Mexico Art Museum to create an online version of their collection that will be available to the public.
  • $175,000 for Girls, Inc. to conduct two programs for girls to build skills for resisting pressure to use illicit substances.
  • $175,000 for the Farmington Museum to digitize the Farmington Daily Times newspaper’s archival and photograph collection and provide an online database to facilitate learning about the history and culture of Farmington and the larger Four Corners area.
  • $173,000 for WESST to pilot a virtual incubation program for small businesses and entrepreneurs as part of the WESST Incubator.
  • $170,000 for the Borderlands and Ethnic Studies Department at New Mexico State University to expand their program to collect and archive primary sources on Southern New Mexico history to create an online digital archive and lesson plans resource.
  • $160,000 for the Center of Southwest Culture’s Community Development Center to provide year-round technical support, training, and resources to small farmers, cultural tourism efforts, and emerging small businesses in New Mexico.
  • $139,000 for WESST to offer a pilot program, called Making a Living Through Entrepreneurship, to formerly incarcerated individuals.
  • $100,000 for the Asian Business Collaborative to assist small businesses through technical assistance, expertise, and public/private partnership resources.
  •  $50,000 for New Mexico Veterans Business Advocates Expo to provide an opportunity for New Mexico’s Veteran-owned businesses to interact with potential partners, customers, and employees, enhancing their opportunities and potential for success.

Also Heinrich and and fellow Democratic Sen. Ben Ray Luján successfully included funding in the bill for the following four projects:

  •  $852,000 for Taos County’s Rural Co-Working and Resource Network Initiative to leverage their existing network of rural community centers to provide space, resources, and technical assistance in support of small businesses.
  •  $500,000 for the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture to digitize and create a catalog of a portion of their archives to increase access for scholars, educators, artists, and the wider public.
  • $200,000 for the New Mexico Minority Business Development Center to provide professional business development services to support and promote the growth and success of minority-owned businesses across the state.
  • $116,000 for the New Mexico Museum of Space History to photograph and catalog its object collection and archival records, which will be made accessible on their website.

Heinrich successfully included funding for the following 10 local projects in the CJS Appropriations bill:

  • $1,150,000 for the Office of the New Mexico Attorney General’s Crime Gun Intelligence Center to purchase four ballistic imaging machines to be placed in Farmington, Gallup, Las Cruces, and Roswell. This project will assist state and local law enforcement agencies in analyzing ballistic casings, prosecuting crimes involving firearms, and mapping crimes involving firearms across the state.
  • $675,000 for the Trauma Informed Youth Diversion Program at Family and Youth Innovation Plus to provide support, resources, skills coaching, social emotional learning, and psychoeducational programming to youth in Doña Ana County.
  • $364,000 for the Albuquerque Police Department to purchase equipment to safely identify fentanyl and other illicit substances to improve prosecutions.
  • $360,000 for the Las Cumbres Community Services Survivors of Torture program, to increase access to supportive services, temporary housing and community integration initiatives.
  • $300,000 for the City of Santa Fe to purchase a fully equipped response vehicle and provide a team of trauma-informed responders and providers to provide care and navigation services to those experiencing a crisis or a behavioral health emergency.
  • $295,000 for Hidalgo, Catron and Grant Counties to purchase equipment for use by local law enforcement to safely detect fentanyl and other illicit drugs and improve officer and community safety.
  • $194,000 for the Las Cruces Police Department to Purchase equipment to safely analyze fentanyl and other illicit narcotics and create a community engagement effort to educate youth on the dangers of illicit drugs.
  • $172,000 for the Silver City Police Department to purchase equipment to safely identify fentanyl and other illicit substances and fund associated training for officers.
  • $150,000 for the New Mexico Child Advocacy Network to improve and expand services to prevent and address child abuse and neglect, and support youth in or exiting the foster care system.
  • $56,000 for La Piñon Sexual Assault Recovery Services to open a satellite office in Sierra County to provide forensic interview services to children who have been a witness or survivor of a crime, as well as other services families may need.

Also, Heinrich and Luján included funding in the bill for the following three projects:

  • $1,550,000 for the New Mexico Department of Public Safety to Fund the Highway Offender Safety project that gives law enforcement the ability to minimize risks by purchasing additional license plate readers and magnetic trackers to be deployed to track fleeing vehicles.
  • $840,000 for the University of New Mexico’s Artemis 3D Challenge program to create a community virtual reality (VR) lab and offer relevant training sessions for high-wage tech jobs.
  • $500,000 for the New Mexico Department of Public Safety to expedite contracted forensic DNA analysis for cases that are currently awaiting analysis at the Santa Fe Forensic Laboratory.