Rep. Chandler on legislative activity in session and during the summer

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From Rep Christine Chandler
New Mexico House District 43

People often ask me two things when I see them: how was the session and are you going to take a break in the summer?

This year’s 60 day session was logistically and emotionally a strain with so much being done through Zoom, but it was also incredibly productive and successful. The House and Senate leadership and staff have done an excellent job managing both remote and personal venues.

Building public participation from a distance has been a challenge but is widely viewed as a success in my opinion. In many cases, the committees had many members of the public and geographically diverse speakers who normally would not have been able to make a long trip to Santa Fe.

The legislature and the governor worked closely to help businesses through laws that provided grants, soft loans, and tax breaks. I am proud to have been the main House sponsor of HB 11, a bill (now law) that provides grants to businesses affected by the closings. Other important pieces of legislation included the Healthy Workplaces Act (earned sick leave, of which I was the primary sponsor), broadband laws (the Connect New Mexico Act), and significant related funding, and environmental measures to improve the state’s ability to protect its residents. We continued to advance measures to improve access to health care and support public education.

Summer is a time for lawmakers to delve into policy issues and better understand how key programs are being implemented through the process of interim committee meetings. It is very hectic and time consuming when we travel to churches across the state. Gallup, Carlsbad (in July!), Los Alamos, Ruidoso and Las Cruces are places 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: The Transportation, Public Works & Capital Improvements, Science, Technology & Telecommunications, Economic Development & Policy and Legislative Finance committees focus on various aspects of implementing the new Connect New- Mexico law. We recognize that while the law was important, implementation and enforcement are critical.

As a member of the Tax Stabilization and Policy Committee, I look forward to exploring ways in which our tax law can be improved, simplified and made fairer. I am particularly interested in the cumbersome system of gross income tax.

Many interim committees can be followed in real time or on record through our legislature website. The committee’s agendas and webcast links (if available) will be posted there.

Given Los Alamos’ high vaccination rate, I am delighted that friends and neighbors are enjoying the summer sun and cool evening breezes. I look forward to seeing you and hearing from you. I will have regular office hours throughout the summer. My next scheduled office time is Friday, June 18, 9-10: 30 a.m., 1247 Central Ave. # 218. I can also be reached at (505) .695.2646 to make an appointment.

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