In a speedy, single-day special session of the state legislature yesterday, New Mexico lawmakers approving a $330 million package intended to provide financial relief to workers and businesses harmed by the coronavirus pandemic. The Governor is expected to sign the bill, which authorizes a round of $1,200 one-time payments to people who are unemployed and grants of up to $50,000 to small businesses. Some low-income households could also get up to $750 in cash assistance. House Bill 1, the name for the single piece of legislation, picked up bipartisan support in both chambers, making it’s way through the House 59-11 and passing the Senate 33-5.
Much of the contention centered around a proposed amendment to issue $600 hazard-pay bonuses to “essential” workers who make less than $15 an hour and have been at the front lines of the pandemic working at grocery stores, hospitals and other businesses. Critics of the amendment for the hazard pay said it would pose logistical difficulties, while also reducing the amount of money available for expanded jobless benefits. “This cannot be done in the time frame we need to get the money out,” Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley told senators during Tuesday’s debate. The amendment ultimately failed, but Lujan Grisham and legislative leaders said they want to do more for essential, front-line workers, perhaps with another emergency aid package in January, when the Legislature’s regular 60-day session is scheduled to begin. Read more HERE.