By Rep. Christine Chandler
New Mexico House District 43
People often ask me two things when I see them: how was the session and will you be getting a break during the summer?
This year’s 60-day session was a strain logistically and emotionally with so much being done via Zoom but also incredibly productive and successful. House and Senate leadership and staff did an amazing job managing both remote and in-person venues.
The set-up for remote public participation was challenging but I think widely viewed as a success. In many instances, committees had many members of the public and geographically diverse speakers who would normally not have been able to make a long trip to Santa Fe.
The Legislature and Governor collaborated closely to support businesses through legislation that provided grants, low interest loans and tax relief. I am proud to have been the House lead sponsor of HB 11, a bill (now law) that offers grants to businesses impacted by the closures. Other important pieces of legislation were the Healthy Workplaces Act (earned sick leave, for which I was lead sponsor), broadband legislation (the Connect New Mexico Act) and significant related funding, and environmental measures to enhance the State’s ability to protect its residents. We continued to advance measures to increase access to health care and support public education.
The summer is a time for legislators to dig into policy issues and better understand how important programs are being implemented through the process of interim committee meetings. It is very hectic and time consuming as we travel to communities across the state. Gallup, Carlsbad (in July!), Los Alamos, Ruidoso and Las Cruces are locations where we will be holding hearings. These events allow us to hear from local community members and leaders to better understand local challenges.
Broadband is likely to be a central topic for a number of interim committees this year: Transportation, Public Works & Capital Improvements, Science, Technology & Telecommunications, Economic Development & Policy, and Legislative Finance committees are focused on various aspects of implementing the new Connect New Mexico Act. We recognize that although the Act was significant, implementation and follow through are critical.
As a member of the Tax Stabilization and Policy Committee, I look forward to studying ways to improve our tax code, simplifying it as well as making it more equitable. I am particularly interested in the cumbersome Gross Receipts Tax system.
Many interim committees can be watched in real time or on recordings through our legislative website. Committee agendas and webcast links (when available) are published there.
With Los Alamos’ high vaccination rate, I am pleased to see friends and neighbors enjoying the summer sun and cool evening breezes. I look forward to seeing you and hearing from you. I will be having regular office hours throughout the summer. My next scheduled office time is 9-10:30 a.m. Friday, June 18 at 1247 Central Ave. #218. I can also be reached at (505).695.2646 to schedule an appointment.