SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) –With a few days left in the 2022 legislative session, lawmakers are enduring debates and late-night meetings to get bills passed before the deadline. Over the weekend, lawmakers discussed topics such as the state’s Sports Authority and uranium mine cleanup. Tuesday February 15, those same bills are up for more debate.
House Bill 134 would reinstitute the state’s Sports Authority. No, that’s not the former retail chain — it’s a former division of the state’s Tourism Department. The goal of the division would be to promote and regulate both amateur and professional sports in New Mexico.
The Sports Authority “existed before, and it’s still good law,” Rep. Antonio Maestas (D-Abq.) told legislators on Saturday, February 12. “But it’s been defunct for over 10 years now.”
Saturday night discussion on the bill focused on the wide range of sporting activities that could benefit from a reinstatement of the Sports Authority. They also discussed how the reinstated Sports Authority would compare with the former version. With a smaller advisory committee made up of members of the public, the bill “shrinks big government and makes it more streamlined and effective,” according to Rep. Maestas.
The Sports Authority committee would be made up of seven members of the public, according to the bill. They would be unpaid and would serve for four years. The bill passed the House floor and is scheduled for the Senate Indian, Rural and Cultural Affairs Committee meeting today.
Last Saturday, lawmakers also tackled House Bill 164, which is aimed at cleaning up old uranium mines across the state. Under the bill, the state’s Environmental Department would coordinate the cleanup efforts.
Following the collapse of the uranium industry in the 1990s, New Mexico was left with around 1,100 mining, milling, and exploratory drill sites, according to a 2020 report from the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research. Cleaning up some of the sites could provide new jobs, according to the research.
The uranium mine cleanup bill received overwhelming support on the House floor. Today it’s on the agenda for the Senate Conservation Committee meeting.
In addition, here are a few more topics to look out for:
Capital outlay projects
- Today, the Senate Finance Committee will meet to discuss capital outlay and general obligation bond projects.
- Capital outlay projects are projects intended to serve the public and local communities. They include things such as road repairs, park improvements, and community center construction.
- This year, legislators have requested more than 2,000 capital outlay projects, according to KRQE News 13’s analysis of the request documents. Today, the Senate Finance Committee will consider which projects are worth funding. Select projects will be added to Senate Bill 212.
- The committee will also consider House Bill 153, which authorizes general obligation bond projects.
- General obligation bonds are a method of funding capital improvement projects. The state issues bonds for projects, and those bonds are repaid through property taxes. The bonds must be approved through general elections.
- Today, the House Transportation, Public Works & Capital Improvements Committee will meet to discuss legislation.
- They’ll consider House Joint Memorial 1, which asks New Mexico’s congressional representatives to consider statewide drought conditions when they set agricultural policy.
- Periodically, United States congress members set federal agricultural policy, often called the “farm bill.” The current farm bill is set to expire in 2023. The farm bill governs everything from conservation to crop insurance.
- House Joint Memorial 1 points out that New Mexico has been in a state of drought for several decades and asks federal lawmakers to keep that in mind as they create the next farm bill.