Home News COVID-19 Situation Lawmakers deliver resolutions to Santa Fe

Lawmakers deliver resolutions to Santa Fe

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Local legislators on Wednesday hand-delivered to the governor’s office copies of two resolutions, one passed by the Roswell City Council and the other by the Chaves County Board of Commissioners.

The City Council’s resolution called all businesses within the city crucial to the well-being of local citizens, and the Board of Commissioners’ resolution urged the state to let counties reopen businesses that have been shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

State Reps. Phelps Anderson, Candy Ezzell, Greg Nibert and state Sen. Cliff Pirtle, all Republicans from Roswell, met briefly with a representative from the governor’s office in Santa Fe and dropped off copies of the resolutions. The four lawmakers had hoped to meet with the governor.

“The meeting was short and sweet because the governor was unable to meet with us, but nonetheless, we were able to deliver the letters,” Anderson said.

Nibert added they were assured by the representative from the governor’s office that copies of the resolution would be distributed to the governor, John Bingaman, her chief of staff, and Victor Reyes, the governor’s legislative liaison.

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The 189-mile trek came after the county passed its resolution in a 5-0 vote, calling for the governor to allow businesses to reopen immediately and conduct business using social distancing and other mitigation practices. Roswell city councilors passed their resolution at a special meeting Monday on a 6-4 vote.

“We believe that local governments have got to be given the authority and the responsibility to get their communities back to work using common sense and medical science,” Anderson said.

Anderson added counties in southeast New Mexico and others with few confirmed cases have had to operate under the same conditions as those where the virus is rampant.

In March, Lujan Grisham issued a series of public health orders meant to ease the burden on the state’s health care system and reduce the spread of COVID-19 that were meant to expire April 30. However, she recently announced the orders will be extended up through May 15.

Those orders included requirements that businesses deemed non-essential by the state suspend operations.

Though New Mexico has done a great job containing the virus, Pirtle said, it is time to focus on reviving the state’s ailing economy.

“People are aware that there is a risk factor out there and I think we all are, but we also have to get back to work,” Ezzell said.

Pirtle added most people would prefer to shop in small businesses or specialty stores which have been disproportionately impacted by the public health orders, rather than continue to be forced to go to big chain stores that have a harder time enforcing social distancing.

Republicans warn that failing to open the economy presents its own risk. Nibert said although he is afraid of a second wave of the disease, he is more fearful of a potential economic collapse if the state does not open up its economy soon.

In recent weeks, Lujan Grisham has made moves to look at restarting the economy. She announced last week the creation of an economic recovery council to look at what practices can be implemented to allow businesses to reopen and identify practices needed to ensure the public remains safe from the disease.

Republicans, though, have panned the idea. The council made its first decision recently, that they will conduct their work in private.

“They spend a week figuring out that they are going to meet in private. I think ‘boy, at this pace, crap, this state is never going to go back to work,” Anderson said.

Pirtle said a move to decide how businesses can function safely should have been announced earlier when the public health orders were issued. Such a move could have potentially spared some businesses from having to shut down permanently.

“Can we applaud this governor for at least trying? Yes. Is it too little too late? Absolutely,” he said.

To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.

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

 

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