A bill extending financial relief opportunities to those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic is on its way to the governor’s desk for a signature. The House of Representatives on Thursday voted 51-17 to approve Senate Bill 3, which offers long-term, low-interest loans up to $150,000 to eligible New Mexico businesses and nonprofits. The loans can be used for capital expenses, including making alterations to property to adapt to the challenges of the pandemic, such as building an outdoor dining area at a restaurant. The money will go to businesses whose net revenue was $5 million a year or less based on 2019 figures. The first year of the loan is interest free.
Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed two pieces of legislation but signed 24 more on Tuesday as the deadline to make a decision nears. Martinez vetoed legislation that would reduce time on probation for those with good behavior. The legislation passed both chambers unanimously. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, told New Mexico Political Report last week he hoped Martinez would sign the legislation, part of the criminal justice reform slate. “The point is to alleviate the stress of the probation department,” Maestas said at the time.
A bill designed to address the solvency of the Severance Tax Permanent Fund passed the Senate Indian and Cultural Affairs Committee with no recommendation on Monday on a 4-2 vote. The legislation passed despite opposition from groups representing Native American tribes, which argued that the cuts to payments from the fund to the tribes would have an adverse effect. Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, sponsored the legislation and said that without action that there was a good chance that the permanent fund would go bankrupt. He cited a Monte Carlo simulation that said the fund has an 84 percent change of going bankrupt in decades if there are no changes made. “Without this fund, we would be talking about cutting $100 million from our general fund budget this year instead of spending $83 million,” Harper said, of the importance of the fund.