What does the term “economic development” mean in the state of New Mexico? If you are Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Legislature, economic development is equivalent to alcohol and marijuana. When asked why we need liquor and marijuana law changes, the answer is always, economic development. In a state that struggles with alcohol and drug use, our leaders feel the best thing to do is to provide easier access to alcohol and drugs to the residents of New Mexico.
Are these the best ideas that we have? When you review the current bills being considered, it appears so. As citizens of New Mexico, we deserve better. Contact your legislators and voice your concerns.
Public bank needed
Thanks to Milan Simonich for highlighting the bills (House Bill 236 and Senate Bill 313) to create a New Mexico Public Bank and promoting public discussion (“Public bank bill belongs on scrapheap,” Ringside Seat, Feb. 21). However, the New Mexico Public Bank would not replace the New Mexico Finance Authority, it would complement, not duplicate or compete with it. More importantly, the public bank, as a chartered bank, would grow money (yes, “grows as it goes”), which the New Mexico Finance Authority cannot do. The bills do not create a bank that lends directly to individuals, as the Bank of North Dakota does for college loans. Rather, it would partner with community banks and credit unions to finance loans to small businesses and entities including municipalities and tribes for underfunded community development investments.
If financial investments are just fine as they are, why is New Mexico at the bottom of all the measures for well-being? New Mexico communities have many unmet needs, and it’s high time we do something bold that is successfully functioning elsewhere and is currently being considered by dozens of other states.
There is no doubt the Liquor Reform Act needs to be overhauled and reviewed. In House Bill 255, the bill appears to support a hospitality industry that has suffered losses in the pandemic. Having restaurants expand to delivery sets an unknown precedent of unintentional consequences of excessive alcohol use, underage drinking, domestic violence, chronic liver disease, crime and potentially driving under the influence (after restaurants close and delivery is not option).
Is providing home delivery suitable for the economy and the behavior of a high-risk alcohol population? New Mexico has implemented various regulatory efforts from increasing the price of alcohol; establishing a minimum drinking age; regulating the density of liquor outlets; and increasing penalties for buyers and servers of alcohol to minors. HB 255 does not appear to be the most suitable boost to the economy when restaurants are not fully open and the unintended consequences have not been researched.
Cynthia Louise Sanchez, Ed.D.
More vaccine info
It’s clear a lot of New Mexicans have questions about the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. One critical piece of data is missing from the state COVID-19 dashboard: What percentage of the 1A and 1B groups has received at least one shot? This information would hopefully enable those of us in 1C (under 75 and no underlying conditions) to have some general idea of when the “lesser groups” might begin getting appointments.
The Department of Health must have this information. Why is it not publicly available on the website? Please make this information available.
A critical piece of legislation is now moving through the New Mexico legislative calendar. The Climate Solutions Act, House Bill 9, is an essential step in the planning for protection of all New Mexicans from the serious consequences of our changing climate. The legislation addresses many important issues, including protecting our health from pollution and deadly emissions, and providing the necessary training for clean energy jobs.
The time is long overdue for our lawmakers to take on the task of a rapid transition to a clean and diverse economy for New Mexico. HB 9 deserves the wholehearted support of our Legislature.
Dr. Angelo Tomedi