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Business news in brief

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Chamber supports tax changes

The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce board of directors, following a presentation by Gov. Susana Martinez and members of her cabinet, voted Thursday to support tax changes passed during the legislative session that concluded March 16.

Chamber CEO Terri Cole said in a statement that the legislation “is about jobs. It will make us more attractive to business and more competitive with surrounding states.”

The bill reduces corporate income tax rates, allows manufacturers to calculate income taxes entirely on the basis of their sales in the state, requires big-box retailers to base taxes on their operations nation wide, tightens eligibility for some tax breaks, and increases incentives paid for television series filmed in New Mexico.

Specialty-crop funds available

New Mexicans can apply for a portion of an expected $435,000 in federal funds to benefit specialty crops such as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops.

The funds are available through the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, created to increase the competitiveness of specialty crops in the market.

Proposed projects must enhance the competitiveness of New Mexico-grown crops, benefit more than one person, entity or product and be completed within three years. Interested parties must apply through the fiscal agent, New Mexico Department of Agriculture, on or before May 24.

NMDA will host workshops on the program and the process for applying on April 16, 10 a.m. at NMDA, 3190 S. Espina St., Las Cruces; and April 25, 9 a.m., Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute, 1607 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe. Visit www.nmda.nmsu.edu or call 575-646-4929 for more information.

Mining group launches website

The New Mexico Mining Association on Friday launched NMCopperRules.com, a website intended to inform New Mexicans about the New Mexico Environment Department’s proposed copper mining rules.

The site provides information about the history of mining in New Mexico, the economic benefits of copper mining in New Mexico, as well as background on how the proposed rules were developed.

According to the mining association, New Mexico’s copper mining industry generates $326 million of economic impact and supports 4,328 New Mexico jobs each year.

Agency eases rules on mortgage help

WASHINGTON – A federal agency says it is easing rules for troubled borrowers to lower their monthly mortgage payments on loans backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the two government-controlled lenders, says borrowers who are at least 90 days’ delinquent on their mortgages won’t have to submit financial documents to qualify for a permanent loan modification if they make three on-time payments.

Borrowers may receive more favorable terms on their mortgages if they choose to provide the documents.

The agency says the program should help borrowers lower their payments and avoid foreclosure. It takes effect July 1. Fannie and Freddie together own or guarantee about half of all U.S. mortgages, or about 31 million home loans.

Exxon spill could cost firm $1.7 M

BILLINGS, Mont. – Federal regulators have proposed $1.7 million in civil penalties against Exxon Mobil Corp. for safety violations linked to a pipeline rupture that spilled an estimated 63,000 gallons of crude oil into Montana’s scenic Yellowstone River.

In a notice sent to the company, U.S. Department of Transportation regulators alleged a chain of bad decisions by Exxon leading up to the spill and in its immediate aftermath. That included Exxon employees’ failure to close an upstream safety valve.

The July 2011 rupture of the 12-inch pipeline under the river near Laurel fouled 70 miles of the river’s banks, killing fish and wildlife and prompting a massive, months-long cleanup.

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