HOUSE DEMOCRATS NEWS
House Bill 10: the Connect New Mexico Act, which institutes a centralized plan for the state to coordinate and fund the delivery of broadband internet to communities across the state, will now head to the Senate Floor after passing the Senate Finance Committee today with a unanimous 11-0 vote. The bill is coordinated with Senate Bill 93, which establishes a broadband office, resulting in a comprehensive broadband program in New Mexico.
House Bill 10: the Connect New Mexico Act is sponsored by Rep. Natalie Figueroa (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Joy Garratt (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Susan Herrera (D-Embudo), Rep. Candie Sweetser (D-Deming), Rep. Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos), Rep. Marian Matthews (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Angelica Rubio (D-Las Cruces), Rep. Debra M. Sariñana (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-Albuquerque), and Rep. Gail Armstrong (R-Magdalena).
The Connect New Mexico Act does the following:
- Creates 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.
- Sets a high bar for the quality of internet service New Mexicans deserve, and ensures our communities have the knowledge and technical expertise they need to leverage their internet resources to benefit their local communities.
- Creates the Connect New Mexico fund, and the Connect New Mexico council that will ensure that projects prioritize unserved and underserved communities and coordinate with the broadband office established by the Senate companion bill.
“Internet access is a staple of life today, but the vital need for it has been made even more apparent during the remote work and schooling of the past year,” said Rep. Figueroa. “The pandemic has shined a light on just how many of our rural and low-income communities still lack this household necessity, and HB 10 creates a comprehensive framework for delivering this important utility to New Mexicans in every corner of the state.”
“Adjusting to remote learning has been a challenge for everyone, from students to parents to teachers. But many children in New Mexico face an even greater uphill battle to stay connected to their schoolwork without internet access at home,” said Rep. Garratt. “Even beyond the pandemic, access to the internet is vital for all of our students in order for them to conduct research, access software, coordinate on projects, and keep up with their peers.”
“While those living in New Mexico’s cities may think of internet access as a given resource that’s widely available, many of those in our rural areas live without it in their homes or even accessible nearby,” said Rep. Herrera. “If we truly want to uplift all New Mexicans out of poverty, we must provide them the tools to remain connected and competitive in today’s society, and that certainly includes high-quality internet access.”
“Whether it’s for your education, business, job, ranch, or farm, we all need access to high-speed, affordable, broadband internet,” said Rep. Sweetser. “The Connect New Mexico Act will provide every New Mexico community with reliable internet access that’s essential to modern life and connecting with one another.”
“We need fast and reliable internet in every corner of the state,” said Rep. Chandler. “This talented group of legislators have 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.”
Also advancing through the Senate are two other pieces of legislation that work in tandem with House Bill 10 and Senate Bill 93 to clear the pathway to achieve statewide broadband internet. These are House Joint Resolution 9: Public Assistance for Infrastructure Development, and House Bill 141: Education Infrastructure Technology Definition, which have also passed all their Senate committees and are ready to be heard on the Senate Floor. Together, these measures will move towards all New Mexican having access to essential household services, including broadband.
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.