HB 206 would be disaster for job creation and economic development: Guest Post

Guest Post by Norteño Millenial

There are a lot of bad ideas floating around the Roundhouse this session. When it comes to job creation and economic development, one of the worst was called out last week by the Albuquerque Journal editorial board.

“It’s unfortunate a few state lawmakers appear hell-bent on hanging a ‘Closed for Business’ sign on the state, keeping us a bottom feeder when it comes to being attractive to business,” they wrote.

The legislation in question is House Bill 206, the “Environmental Review Act,” which would create a new state review process for any “project” for which “a lease, permit, license, certificate or other entitlement is required” mandating “government agencies at all levels to consider qualitative, technical and economic factors.”

It’s particularly troubling for state lands. A wide range of economic activity takes place on state trust land – including oil and gas development, cattle grazing, renewable energy projects, and mining – generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and creates thousands of jobs, and all of which would require this additional layer of bureaucratic red tape.

This video from New Mexicans for Economic Prosperity, a statewide economic advocacy coalition, explains how New Mexicans benefit from our state land and shows what’s at risk if the bill passes:

To add insult to injury, an analysis by the Legislative Finance Committee estimated it would cost state agencies more than $2 million per year to perform the new reviews mandated in the bill and “requires agencies to request funding in their recurring operating budget requests to implement new duties and responsibilities.”

Many economic development groups and chambers of commerce quickly came out in opposition to the bill.

The Carlsbad Economic Development Department passed a resolution saying it “would be a strong deterrent to new economic growth as well as interfering with existing business opportunities across New Mexico.”

“I’ll be bold and say this is just a plain stupid legislation. Short-sighted, it will be detrimental and destructive to this state’s economy,” President and CEO of Sandoval Economic Alliance Steve Jenkins said.

Terri Cole, CEO and president of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, said, “It would deter investment, plain and simple.”

The bill passed its first committee on a party line vote and was referred to the House State Government, Elections & Indian Affairs Committee. If Representative Georgene Louis (D-Albuquerque), who chairs the committee, has any sense, House Bill 206 won’t get another hearing.

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