Legislature: Vital Rural Infrastructure Bill Heads To Senate Floor


A critical measure facilitating rural infrastructure projects will now head to the Senate Floor, after passing the Senate Indian, Rural and Cultural Affairs Committee on a party-line 4-2 vote. As a constitutional amendment, HJR 9 would go to a public vote after passing both chambers. 

Sponsored by Rep. Anthony Allison (D-Fruitland) and Rep. Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos), the House Judiciary Committee substitute for House Joint Resolution 9 proposes a constitutional amendment allowing 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 funding for many infrastructure programs because doing so would violate the state constitution’s anti-donation provision. This is a major obstacle for infrastructure investments and deprives rural communities of the basic services that much of urban and suburban New Mexico take for granted.

“Even in 2021, tens of thousands of families in New Mexico still live without basic utilities like internet, water, and electricity. It’s high time we change that,” said Rep. Allison. “If this constitutional amendment is passed by the voters, HJR 9 will allow the state to invest resources in ensuring that all New Mexicans have access to basic infrastructure necessary for life today.”  

“We all understand the importance of the anti-donation clause. However, in the case of essential services such as the internet, and even water, and wastewater, the state has been very constrained in its ability to assist New Mexicans who cannot access these basic services,” said Rep. Chandler. “Our rural residents deserve access to the same critical infrastructure available in other communities.” 

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.