New Mexico State Senate approves economic relief plan


SANTA FE, New Mexico (AP) – The New Mexico Senate continued on Wednesday with pandemic– related financial aid measures, including minimum interest loans to small businesses that have been hit by the virus and emergency health restrictions.

The Democratic-led chamber overwhelmingly approved a trio of bills that would also offer tax breaks for restaurants and a temporary waiver of liquor license fees.

Invoices now move to state house for exam. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has signaled her willingness to approve sweeping relief measures amid aggressive public health restrictions imposed on businesses by her administration.

A central bill from Albuquerque state senator Jacob Candelaria would allow loans of up to $ 150,000 to small businesses at subprime rates of less than 2% annual interest. It passed a 35-to-3 vote, with several senators recusing themselves from a vote due to ties to companies that may seek relief.

The bill allows a state trust fund to invest up to $ 500 million in loans to companies with property ties to New Mexico – abandon certain traditional investments based on risks and returns.

“The best thing we can hope for in terms of recovery is that state companies start growing again, taking risks, taking loans, taking loans to build, invest, grow, employ more people, make capital investments, ”Candelaria told a Senate panel earlier this week.

The proposed policy builds on a smaller small business loan program last year that provided a total of about $ 40 million in loans of up to $ 75,000 each. The new program would make it possible to refinance the loans on more favorable terms.

The Legislature races against time in its 60-day session ending March 20 to enact economic aid measures, amid uncertainty over a possible new round of direct federal aid state and local governments.

A pending state Supreme Court ruling could allow companies to seek compensation from the state in response to emergency health orders. In separately proposed legislation, lawmakers on both sides are calling for checks on the governor’s emergency powers during pandemics.

Across much of the state, health restrictions have closed entertainment venues, including cinemas, ban large public gatherings and limit access to meals inside restaurants. State health officials lifted a mandatory self-quarantine period for inbound travelers on Wednesday.

The State Senate unanimously approved a proposal to give a $ 600 tax refund to low-income working families and provide tax relief on sales and services to food establishments such as restaurants. , craft breweries and food trucks.

A bill that would remove fees for all liquor licenses in the hard-hit hospitality industry won Senate approval on a 41-1 vote.

Republican Senator Cliff Pirtle of Roswell warned that the relief bills would not solve the economic hardships with current public health orders and urged his colleagues to “restrict the executive branch of government.” “They’re a band-aid over a pretty big wound,” Pirtle said. “The reality is that we are still closed.”

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