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Counties gain with some bills

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The state’s 33 counties did score some wins, said Steve Kopelman, New Mexico Counties executive director, and Brian Moore, head of NMC governmental relations.

The Tax Changes bill, House Bill 6, will enable counties to receive taxes on internet sales and a “compensating” tax on some out-of-state purchases. Many counties in the region will benefit from the $160 million set aside for local road projects and from an increased allocation of motor vehicle excise taxes for road construction (although some legislators are upset with the tax increase itself). HB 479 also changes local option gross receipts taxes to give counties more flexibility on how they can use the money generated and the size of increases they can implement.

County sheriffs were able to get some changes they wanted to a property forfeiture law enacted in 2015. HB 312 will allow sheriffs to be reimbursed for costs related to storing property prior to a conviction or transporting assets later for disposal or sale. The bill also cleared up some confusing terms and allows assets to be sold by entities other than the State Treasurer. Meanwhile, HB 293 helped county clerks clear up concerns with duplicate filings of some documents.

The creation of the Regional Air Center Special Economic District by HB 229 is expected to help the economies of communities and counties near the Roswell International Air Center, as well as other regions in the state with decommissioned military airfields.

HB 43 allows rural detention centers to request mental health specialists to intervene with some of the estimated 2,000 inmates statewide with serious mental health issues. It likely will take many months before the processes and systems are established, some NMC officials have said. The amount funded for this program, $1.5 million, also was termed very low by some.

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