HOUSE DEMOCRATS NEWS
Paves the way for infrastructure investments in rural areas
Legislation to aid rural infrastructure projects passed its first committee in the House of Representatives today.
Sponsored by Rep. Anthony Allison (D-Fruitland) and Rep. Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos), House Joint Resolution 9 proposes a constitutional amendment to allow an exception to the state’s anti-donation clause for basic infrastructure projects, including internet, water, wastewater services, natural gas, and electricity.
Currently, New Mexico cannot legally provide the required match for federal infrastructure funding because doing so would be a violation of the state’s anti-donation clause. This is a serious obstacle for infrastructure investments and deprives rural communities of the basic services that much of urban and suburban New Mexico take for granted.
“It is unacceptable that so many New Mexicans lack access to basic household infrastructure like running water, electricity, and internet access,” said Rep. Anthony Allison. “It’s long been clear that our rural communities are underserved, but the pandemic laid bare the heartbreaking scope of the problem.”
“Our state can’t have a thriving economy that works for everyone when so many New Mexicans are suffering from a lack of basic infrastructure,” said Rep. Christine Chandler. “To prevent a situation where we can’t fund projects, we must amend the constitution so the state can ensure that every New Mexican has access to essential infrastructure.”
House Joint Resolution 9 passed the House Transportation, Public Works & Capital Improvements Committees with a 6-3 vote, and will head next to the House Judiciary Committee. As a constitutional amendment, HJR 9 would proceed to a public vote after passing the House and Senate.
Modeled after similar exceptions for affordable housing and economic development, HJR 9 would ensure that no legal barriers prevent the state from expanding infrastructure to rural areas for broadband and other critical services. If approved by voters, the amendment would require implementing legislation to ensure that tax dollars and other public resources are properly safeguarded, and that the legislature has appropriate oversight authority.
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.