LAS CRUCES - The New Mexico House of Representatives gave final approval Thursday, Feb. 25, to legislation to make low-interest loans available to more small businesses in the state that were harmed by public health restrictions imposed to combat the pandemic.
Senate Bill 3 would make changes to legislation passed during a special session last June. That bill made $450 million available for loans, but only about $40 million of that had been tapped into. The new bill will loosen restrictions, making the loans available to far more businesses.
The bill passed on a 51-7 vote. Republicans who voted against the bill said they were objecting to restrictions imposed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “This just enables the current administration to keep the state locked down longer,” said House Minority Leader James Townsend, R-Artesia.
House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, said Thursday he would seek changes to the Legislature’s ethics policy to incorporate parts of the state’s Human Rights Act in dealing with allegations of discrimination and harassment.
Egolf said the rules in place now are limited, and he wants to make sure those with concerns have an appropriate body to address them. Egolf said he would ask with the Legislative Council Committee to look into the issue during the interim between this session and next.
“This is something that has come up over the years, and I think it’s important that we take it up in the interim,” Egolf said.
Legislation to crack down on so-called chop shops passed unanimously Thursday in the House.
House Bill 145 would make it a third-degree felony to dismantle a stolen vehicle or to knowingly operate a shop where that is taking place. Sponsor Rep. Meredith Dixon, D-Albuquerque, said her city is second in the nation in auto thefts.
“Law enforcement officers have come to the Legislature and asked us to make it easier to prosecute those who are driving demand for stolen vehicles and helping this market thrive in New Mexico,” she said. The bill now moves to the Senate.