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Transportation subcommittee to meet in Roswell


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Legislators from across New Mexico will be in Roswell today and Wednesday to hear from state and local officials about transportation infrastructure.

Members of the Transportation Infrastructure Revenue Subcommittee will meet both days in the Bassett Auditorium in the Roswell Museum & Art Center at 100 West 11th Street, according to the subcommittee’s page on the New Mexico Legislature’s official website.

State Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, will chair the meetings.

The subcommittee is an interim committee made up of members from both political parties and legislative chambers. It was established in April by the New Mexico Legislative Council following the 60-day legislative session to “meet the needs of New Mexico businesses and residents for transportation and infrastructure and identify current and new sources of revenue,” according to the group’s work plan and meeting schedule.

An interim committee is made up of lawmakers who meet between legislative sessions to conduct oversight of state agencies and departments, receive input from the public and propose and endorse legislation. Interim committees cannot meet and do not have power when the legislature is in session, and cannot vote to pass legislation, according to the New Mexico Legislature’s website.

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State Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, the top Republican in the New Mexico Senate, said he plans to be in Roswell for the meetings, which are open to the public.

Although not an official member, Ingle is an advisory member of the subcommittee. He said that he has not seen the meeting’s agenda, but expects repair and construction of deteriorating highways throughout the state will be a big topic of discussion

“Certainly the southeastern part of the state has got plenty of roads that need money spent on them and need to be redone. So we will be talking about some of those things,” Ingle said Monday.

New Mexico has an estimated revenue surplus of $1.2 billion, primarily due to the high oil and gas development in the southeastern corner of the state. Ingle said the extra revenue should allow the state to begin repairing many of its highways without raising taxes.

“We’ve got to do the best we can with what we’ve got, the state’s got lots of dollars flowing in from this side of the state from the oil industry, so we are going to do some major repairs on highways in the Carlsbad and Eddy County area, we’ve got a couple hundred million (dollars) earmarked for that from last session, but we’ve got road repair needs all over the state,” Ingle said.

The meeting in Roswell will be the third of five held between June and November of this year. Meetings occurred in June and August in Santa Fe, with two more to take place there in October and November.

Today’s meeting will start at 10 a.m. with a call to order by Smith followed by a statement by Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh, according to the meeting’s tentative agenda.

Updates on New Mexico’s state transportation system will be provided by engineers with the New Mexico Department of Transportation on the first day. Featured speakers will also talk about highway contracts and maintenance, according to the agenda. A 15-minute period will be set aside for comments from the public before the meeting recesses at 5 p.m.

The Wednesday meeting will last from 9 a.m. to noon, and include a presentation by Louis Najar, Roswell city engineer, on needs of local roads.

Harry Vidas, vice president of ICF, a global consulting and technology services company, will speak about the economic importance of New Mexico’s oil and natural gas infrastructure, the tentative agenda states.

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

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