HOUSE DEMOCRATS NEWS
The Connect New Mexico Act delivers broadband statewide, providing internet access to all New Mexicans
Amid an ongoing pandemic that has made obvious the glaring disparities in broadband access in New Mexico, a comprehensive plan to deliver reliable, affordable, broadband internet passed the House Transportation, Public Works and Capital Improvements Committee Tuesday in a bipartisan 8-1 vote.
Sponsored by Rep. Christine Chandler (D-LosAlamos), Rep. Natalie Figueroa (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Joy Garratt (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Susan Herrera (D-Embudo) and Rep. Candie Sweetser (D-Deming), the Connect New Mexico Act, provides a centralized plan for the state of New Mexico to build, manage and deliver broadband internet to communities statewide.
The Connect New Mexico Act is composed of three main components that:
- Establishes a centralized Office of Broadband within the Department of Information Technology that can coordinate, state, local, and federal resources to build new infrastructure and connect every community in New Mexico.
- Creates a comprehensive plan that maps out New Mexico’s current broadband infrastructure and assessing what it will take to finish the job and connect New Mexico.
- Sets a high bar for the quality of internet service New Mexicans deserve and ensures communities have the knowledge and technical expertise they need to leverage their internet resources to benefit their local communities.
“Every New Mexican deserves to live, learn and work with affordable, accessible, high-speed broadband,” said Rep. Figueroa. “As a high school teacher in Albuquerque, I see the immense struggles my students and their families have faced in order to access remote learning online; and it is ten times worse in our rural and tribal communities, if they even have a connection.”
“The Connect New Mexico Act will provide every New Mexico community with the resources and expert guidance to expand reliable internet access that’s essential to modern life and connecting with one another,” said Rep. Garratt. “House Bill 10 provides a mission and a vision to get the job done.”
“I represent rural northern New Mexico, and we don’t have reliable internet services,” said Rep. Herrera. “A group of us have been meeting since last March to find a way to address this issue affecting much of the state. House Bill 10 sets a foundation and a pathway for the development of an effective statewide broadband plan that will work for our citizens.”
“New Mexico has an internet access problem, especially in rural areas, and it creates an even bigger educational and economic divide,” said Rep. Sweetser. “The COVID-19 pandemic has called attention to the fact that fast and affordable internet access is no longer ‘nice to have,’ but critical for the success of our state and its residents.”
“We need fast and reliable internet in every corner of the state,” said Rep. Chandler. “This talented group of legislators has been meeting and conducting research for months to determine what access, policy, and legislative issues need to be addressed to achieve statewide broadband. House Bill 10 is the culmination of those efforts.”
Rep. Angelica Rubio (D-Las Cruces) added: “Equity and inclusion are vital commitments that we must honor if we’re to ensure that each and every New Mexican can access broadband wherever they live.”
Working in tandem with House Bill 10 are two additional measures that help clear the pathway to achieving statewide broadband. They are House Joint Resolution 9, Public Assistance for Infrastructure Development, and House Bill 141, Education Infrastructure Technology Definition. Working together, these measures will allow a new Office of Broadband to apply for grants to help build the state’s broadband infrastructure.
House Bill 10 will be heard next in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.
Members of the public can track legislation on the New Mexico Legislature website, access committee meetings and House floor sessions via the Webcasts tab, or participate by Zoom to provide public comment on committee hearings. During the 2021 Legislative Session, the House of Representatives is focused on passing critical legislation while protecting the health and safety of the public, the staff, and the legislators.