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’19 Session: Businesses win some, lose some

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico’s 2019 legislative session was among the busiest in recent memory. Over a 60-day period that ended Saturday, lawmakers debated myriad measures and turned hundreds of them into state law.

Among the most notable new laws likely to impact New Mexico businesses:

— The statewide minimum wage will increase from $7.50 an hour to $12 an hour by 2023

–The Legislature appropriated $60 million in Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) funding and $10 million for the Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP)

— The cap on film incentives has been raised from $50 million to $110 million, with up to $225 million of the backlog paid

— Counties are barred from enforcing local “right-to-work” ordinances

— A tax package expands a working families tax credit and raises some personal income tax rates. The tax increase goes into effect if the state doesn’t meet certain revenue goals

— The state now regulates the production, research and manufacture of hemp. A bill that would have legalized recreational marijuana was passed by the House for the first time in history, but died in the Senate Finance Committee

In a statement, Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Terri Cole said her organization was overall “pleased to help drive some very important legislation this session on key issues of concern in our community.”

“But it’s no secret that the Legislature also (enacted) certain policies that are harmful to businesses,” said Cole.

She said both the minimum wage increase and the personal income tax increase will hurt small businesses in particular. Cole also said the chamber is “greatly disappointed . . . that more funding wasn’t devoted to an around-the-clock homeless center to improve how our community addresses our homelessness challenges.”

The Legislature approved $985,000 for the construction of an emergency homeless shelter in Albuquerque.

Rob Black, president and CEO of the New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry, said he was disappointed that a broadband expansion bill didn’t come to a vote. He also expressed concern about service providers with long-term contracts with the state, who will not receive any additional funding to accommodate the minimum wage increase. Some of those providers work in senior centers throughout the state.

“I hope people continue to pay attention to that,” said Black. “It has the potential to impact a lot of minority-owned and women-owned businesses serving the most vulnerable New Mexicans.”

Black said he was pleased by the Legislature’s approval of the creation of an early childhood education and care department. He also applauded a bill that creates the legal structure for an industry around recycling certain types of wastewater in oil and gas production.