SANTA FE – By a vote of 65-0, the New Mexico House of Representatives passed legislation Friday that would allow members of the military who have just been deployed or given a temporary assignment to discontinue and re-establish utility services without paying a penalty or reconnection fee.
HB 175, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Steinborn (D-Doña Ana-District 35), would affect utilities including water, gas, electricity, and telephone. It would also allow service members to selectively shut off services when a municipality bundles them together.
The inspiration for this legislation came from Tech Sergeant Fabian Silva who is currently stationed at Holloman Air Force Base and is currently deployed in Afghanistan.
Silva’s parents live in Las Cruces in Steinborn’s legislative district. Silva owns a home in nearby Alamogordo. He has been unable to shut off selective utilities during his deployment. There are many soldiers in Silva’s situation across New Mexico.
The financial burden of paying for utility services while abroad serving our country or on temporary assignment is something many of our service members face. This legislation would ease that hardship.
“This legislation will allow our men and women of our military to not have the financial burden of paying disconnect or reconnection fees related to discontinuing or re-establishing utilities at their homes when they’re deployed for our country,” Steinborn said. “Of course, these deployments are unplanned by them and they are part of the nature of the job. It’s important that we don’t penalize them with a financial hardship of continuing services they don’t need, including shutting off and re-establishing services. This legislation honors their service and helps provide flexibility that’s needed by them.”
Rep. Nate Cote (D-Doña Ana-District 53), a co-sponsor of HB 175 adds, “As a Navy veteran who had three deployments when on active duty, I understand how many things have to be done and how stressful this departure can be. This legislation is another way we can help our military members address their needs and save them some money.”
Steinborn was recently elected to the House of Representatives, having previously served as State Representative from 2007-2010.