Land Grant-Merced Assistance Passes House With Strong Bipartisan Support

Pictured at the Legislature Friday are, from left, Dr. Jacobo Baca, House Majority Leader Javier Martínez, Melvyn Apodaca, Arturo Archuleta, Rep. Andrea Romero, Speaker of the House Brian Egolf, Andrea Padilla, Steve Polaco, Rita Padilla Gutierrez, Rep. Kristina Ortez, Jose Belarmino Archuleta. Courtesy photo


Legislation to provide financial assistance to qualified land grant-mercedes across New Mexico passed the House today by a vote of 62-7 today. HB 8 would provide relief to families in rural land grant communities who still live largely traditional or agricultural lifestyles and continue to rely on the land and acequias.

Land grant-mercedes are the oldest non-Native American institutions in our nation and they have long given voice to New Mexico’s traditional cultures, but for more than a century they have suffered economic hardship. HB 8 establishes the land grant-mercedes assistance fund, which would be administered by the Department of Finance and Administration

HB 8 is sponsored by Rep. McQueen, Speaker Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe), and Representatives Kristina Ortez (D-Taos), Roger Montoya (D-Velarde), Susan Herrera (D-Embudo), Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe), and Senators Elizabeth Stefanics (D-Cerrillos) and Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque).

Statement from Representative Matthew McQueen:

“This assistance will help these treasured rural and agricultural communities meet modern challenges to ensure their prosperity.”

Speaker Brian Egolf:

“The continued well-being of our land grant communities is vital to New Mexico’s future. This bill would bring much needed relief to these communities so that they can continue their traditions for many more generations.”

Representative Kristina Ortez:
“We are doing something that should have been done long ago by providing resources to land grant communities all around the state. Land grants reflect our state’s history and protect our land and water and natural resources.”

Arturo Archuleta, Program Manager, Land Grant Council 

“This legislation will provide stability for our land grant governing bodies, allowing them to better serve their communities and better protect the natural resources they manage.”

Andrea Padilla, President of the Town of Tome Land Grant

“This bill will help our land grant communities continue to address the unmet needs of New Mexicans across our state.”

Steve Polaco, President of Merced de Los Pueblos de Tierra Amarilla:
“Land grants have long played a critical role in protection of our natural resources, including water. The Land Grant-Merced Assistance Fund will help protect these resources for future generations.”

The Roundhouse is open to the public for the session. Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination will be required to enter the building. Members of the public can view floor sessions and committee meetings on the New Mexico legislature’s Webcasts tab, and provide comment via phone or Zoom as directed on the daily schedule