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Friday, December 19, 2014

Transparency, vets, education on slate

news@dailylobo.com
@JCTyczkowski

Now that the deadline for introducing new legislation has passed, state legislators must now begin debate on a large number of bills.

Below is a breakdown of four bills relating to higher education, transparency and economic development, including their sponsors, topics and locations in the legislative process.

House Bill 18 – UNM Space Technology Consortium
This bill, sponsored by Rep. Carl Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, aims to transfer $60,000 from the New Mexico general fund to the University to support the creation of a new space technology consortium. The transfer would be a recurring expense beginning in fiscal year 2015.

A problem noted with HB 18 in a fiscal impact report is that the bill does not include enough specifics on the scope and role of such a consortium, and that the bill may be unnecessary if the new consortium would duplicate the efforts of the already-existing New Mexico Space Grant Consortium.

The bill is awaiting debate in the House Education Committee.

Click here to read HB 18.

House Bill 331 — Military service degree program credit
This bill, sponsored by Rep. Thomas A. Anderson, R-Albuquerque, seeks to allow coursework completed in the military, or any military service deemed “relevant and transferable” for a college degree program to be transferred for credit. Students would need to provide the appropriate military transcripts showing that they completed such coursework or service.

HB 331 is scheduled to start debate today in the House Rules & Order of Business Committee.

Click here to read HB 311.

House Bill 341 and Senate Bill 201 — Sunshine Portal open records changes
The house bill, sponsored by Rep. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, and the senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, both contain identical language and aim to apply the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act to contracts listed online that cost more than $20,000 in total.

Information about such contracts is currently limited to the recipient of the contract, the purpose of the contract and the contract’s amount, according to New Mexico state law.

According to the bills, new information available about such bills would include a full description of the contract and its services, the state agency entering into the contract, the contract’s expiration date, the contractor’s pay per fiscal year, how much contractors’ and subcontractors’ employees are being paid and the total projected cost of the contract.

This legislation would apply to contracts listed in the Sunshine Portal, a website that contains the financial information of New Mexico “for the purpose of governmental transparency and accountability to taxpayers,” according to both bills.

HB 341 is scheduled to be introduced today in the House Rules and Order of Business Committee, and SB 201 is awaiting debate in the Senate Committees Committee.

Click here to read HB 341.

Click here to read SB 201.

House Bill 272 – Job creation and economic development
The bill, sponsored by Rep. W. Ken Martinez, D-Grants, and Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, declares an emergency in the state and seeks to make appropriations to jump-start job creation and economic development statewide.

According to a fiscal impact report, the bill would appropriate nearly $25 million from the general fund on a one-time basis to be divided among five different state agencies.

The Economic Development Department would receive $18.55 million, which would include $4.5 million for the Job Training Incentive Program, $200,000 for certified business incubators and $10 million for projects covered under the Local Economic Development Act.

$3 million would go to the state’s Tourism Department to improve services and marketing, $150,000 would go to the Higher Education Department to develop a “workforce gap forecasting model” and $3 million would go to the Workforce Solutions Department to develop and bolster summer youth employment programs.

Also, $250,000 would go to the UNM Board of Regents to aid the Bureau of Business and Economic Research to develop a model that would estimate the net positive or negative impact of legislation on job creation in the state.

HB 272 was introduced into debate in the House Business & Industry Committee this Thursday.