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Governor signs tax break, screening, racino bills

SANTA FE, N.M. — Gov. Susana Martinez on Monday signed into law legislation to require that newborns in New Mexico be tested for critical congenital heart disease.

CCHD, which is difficult to identify without the screening, accounts for about 30 percent of all infant deaths caused by birth defects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition often can be treated with surgery when identified early.

The bill was one of several pieces of legislation Martinez signed Monday during a visit to Roswell. Other bills signed included a new tax break for aircraft manufacturers and the right for racino operators to ban from their tracks horse racers who are suspended for violations involving performance-enhancing drugs.

Martinez said adding CCHD to the list of conditions for which hospitals screen newborns will save infants’ lives.

“By adding testing for CCHD to the newborn screening panel, more New Mexico babies will grow up to live happier, healthier lives with their families,” Martinez said in a statement.

The bill, House Bill 9, was sponsored by Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell. It was unanimously passed by both the House and the Senate during the 30-day legislative session that ended Feb. 20.

“This noninvasive addition to newborn screening is an important step in continuing to build healthier communities and families,” Espinoza said.

Also Monday, Martinez signed House Bill 24, which allows aircraft manufacturers to sell planes weighing more than 10,000 pounds without collecting gross receipts taxes.

The governor said the tax cut for aircraft buyers will be a boon for the aircraft-manufacturing industry, which is expected to create 125 jobs in Roswell over the next five years.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Bob Wooley, R-Roswell.

Martinez on Monday also highlighted a new law intended to help racinos cut down on use of performance-enhancing drugs in racehorses. Senate Bill 116, sponsored by Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, allows racino operators to ban from the track premises any racer with a suspended license related to horse doping.

“A license to be on the track and to race horses is not just a given. It’s not something you just buy; it’s a privilege,” Papen said.

Martinez said the new law is an effort to “continue to protect the integrity of the sport.”