The 2015 New Mexico Legislative Session adjourned on March 21. Perhaps, the biggest disappointment of the session was the failure by legislators to agree on a capital outlay bill for a multitude of projects throughout the state. New Mexico’s border region will be impacted, due to the fact that a major arterial, Airport Rd. that connects two Santa Teresa industrial parks will not have funding for reconstruction. The boom in cross-border trade on New Mexico’s border with Mexico has increased commercial traffic tremendously, which is taking a toll on roads used by commercial trucks. In order to continue recruiting new business to this part of New Mexico, infrastructure will need to be improved.
On a more positive note, two bills that will positively affect cross-border trade were passed and are awaiting Governor Martinez’s signature. The first is an extension of the six-mile, overweight cargo zone, which was created in 2011. This allows trucks weighing up to 96,000 pounds to operate within the zone, increasing logistics efficiencies and reducing costs. The bill increases the zone by another six miles, encompassing the year-old Union Pacific Santa Teresa Railyards.
The Legislature also passed a bill that will allow utilities in New Mexico the ability to negotiate a reduced electricity rate – referred to as an economic development rate – for business clients. This is particularly important in areas such as Dona Ana County, which competes against El Paso, Texas for industry. El Paso Electric has different compacts with the City of El Paso and Dona Ana County. This often results in a negative cost differential for Dona Ana County. Exacerbating the problem is that El Paso Electric is allowed to negotiate up to a five-year discounted rate to compete for businesses. The new economic development rate will allow El Paso Electric to offer competitive rates for up to five years for businesses wanting to stay in New Mexico or move their operations here.