HOUSE DEMOCRATS NEWS
A comprehensive plan to deliver reliable, affordable, broadband internet across New Mexico unanimously passed the Appropriations and Finance Committee today, and will now head to the House Floor.
Sponsored by Rep. Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos), Rep. Natalie Figueroa (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Joy Garratt (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Susan Herrera (D-Embudo) and Rep. Candie Sweetser (D-Deming), House Bill 10: the Connect New Mexico Act, institutes a centralized plan for the state of New Mexico to build, manage and deliver broadband internet to communities statewide.
The Connect New Mexico Act includes three main components:
- Establishing a centralized Office of Broadband within the Department of Information Technology to coordinate state, local, and federal resources to build new infrastructure and connect every community in New Mexico.
- Creating a comprehensive plan that maps out New Mexico’s current broadband infrastructure and assesses what it will take to finish the job and connect New Mexico.
- Setting a high bar for the quality of internet service New Mexicans deserve, and ensuring our communities have the knowledge and technical expertise they need to leverage their internet resources to benefit their local communities.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the glaring disparities in broadband internet access across New Mexico. Now, more than ever, New Mexicans must have the quality internet access that is essential for work, education, and life today,” said Rep. Figueroa. “We know that we need to maximize every state dollar to leverage federal matching funds so we can complete these broadband projects as quickly as possible.”
“As a teacher, I’ve seen firsthand how a lack of reliable internet access can set students back,” said Rep. Garratt. “Even beyond the obvious need during remote learning, having access to the wealth of information available online is essential for students to conduct research, access helpful programs, and keep up with their peers.”
“Representing a rural area, many of my constituents simply do not have access to the internet, or at least not reliable internet,” said Rep. Herrera. “From remote work and online school to telemedicine visits and connecting with friends, the ability to be online is essential to today’s world, and we need to make sure that rural New Mexico is not left behind.”
“Every New Mexican deserves to live, learn, and work anywhere in our state with access to high-speed affordable broadband internet,” said Rep. Sweetser. “The Connect New Mexico Act will help level the playing field and close the internet gap between urban and rural New Mexico that has only gotten wider during this pandemic.”
“The Connect New Mexico Act presents a comprehensive, centralized plan to deliver broadband internet to every community in every corner of our state within five years,” said Rep. Chandler. “It’s time for us to take the lead on delivering broadband because a connected New Mexico is a New Mexico that’s ready to build a 21st-century economy that uplifts every community.”
Working in tandem with House Bill 10 are two additional measures which help clear the pathway to achieving statewide broadband internet. They are House Joint Resolution 9, Public Assistance for Infrastructure Development, and House Bill 141, Education Infrastructure Technology Definition. Together, these measures will allow a new Office of Broadband to apply for grants to help build the state’s broadband infrastructure.
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.