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Air authority bill clears House Judiciary Committee

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A bill that would allow for the creation of an independent air authority to govern the Roswell International Air Center is among 17 bills on the “Rocket Docket” that passed out of the House Judiciary Committee Monday.

In a press release issued Monday evening announcing the bills had been voted out of committee, House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, said members on the Judiciary Committee had the chance to offer input and ask questions about the bills.

“These bills passed the House Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support, including support from Republican leadership,” Egolf said in the release. “It’s clear that these bills create opportunity for hard working New Mexicans, and I’m glad to see them moving through an open and transparent process.”

The release states that an 18th bill was sent to a future committee to be discussed further.

Bills that passed the Judiciary Committee will be read on the House floor Tuesday and then taken up and voted on by the full House Wednesday. There was no word on whether 30 bills on the Rocket Docket in the Senate had passed out of their committees.

The Rocket Docket is comprised of noncontroversial bills — 30 in the Senate and 18 in the House — that passed the New Mexico Legislature during the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions with no more then five opposing votes in each chamber, but were vetoed by then-Gov. Susana Martinez.

All bills on the Rocket Docket will only go before one committee in each legislative chamber. Normally an individual bill would go before several House and Senate committees before being brought up for a full vote.

Among the House bills passed was the Regional Air Center Special Economic District or House Bill 229 (HB 229) introduced last session by State Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell. The legislation would allow the Roswell International Air Center to establish an independent air authority to govern the air center and adjacent properties.

The legislation would allow a city or county in which a former military airfield is located to establish a district and appoint five to nine non-elected members to an authority charged with developing, managing and marketing the air center and adjacent properties. The bill as written in 2018 would also have allowed the authority to issue revenue bonds, impose liens, hire employees and exercise eminent domain.

In a visit during her campaign last year, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she would sign the legislation.

A second bill that had been introduced by Ezzell, the Muni Environmental Services Gross Receipts House Bill 257 (HB 257), also passed out of Committee. The bill would expand the uses of revenue from the Municipal Environmental Gross Receipts Tax.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.