COMMENTARY: New Mexico’s near-term prosperity and long-term growth depend on a vibrant private sector. For us at the New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry (ACI), that notion is ever-present; it’s the purpose of our work, after all. For many other New Mexicans, if thoughts on how to make the state’s business climate stronger aren’t top-of-mind throughout the year, they certainly come to the forefront as we approach the legislative session.
A week before the Legislature commences, ACI will host its semi-annual board and membership meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 10, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Albuquerque. Our members participate in approving ACI’s policy agenda and learn from top leaders what business-related policies will be considered during the session.
For the first time, we are opening registration to both members and general admission. Learn more on our website at nmaci.org.
In the meantime, we’d like to offer you a preview of what policies are the priorities articulated by our members.
Twice each year, policy committees – comprised entirely of representatives of ACI member businesses – convene to update ACI’s policy positions across a wide array of industries and issues. ACI’s policy agenda informs our work during each legislative session, as well as ACI’s work with state and federal regulatory agencies throughout the year. For each policy committee listed below, what follows is the committee’s principal priority on which ACI should focus its offense.
• Agriculture and food processing: ACI supports preserving the integrity of the workers’ compensation system to ensure quick and efficient delivery of benefits to injured workers, to maximize medical rehabilitation and return-to-work outcomes at a fair cost to the employers, which will also foster business investment and job creation.
• Economic development and research & development: ACI supports full and increased investment in strategic economic development programs such as JTIP and LEDA, as well as enhancing the tools available to incentivize business investment and job creation.
• Education and workforce development: ACI supports a statewide plan that directs and measures the efforts of public colleges and universities to increase educational attainment and expand research and economic development efforts in communities across the state.
• Energy and extractive industries: ACI supports policies that provide for the commercially viable development of energy infrastructure, including roads, oil and natural gas pipelines, electric transmission lines, energy storage, and electric and natural gas distribution systems that will benefit end-use markets, including such things as natural gas and electric vehicles and smart-grid technologies.
• Entrepreneurship: ACI supports incorporation of computer science and computational thinking into New Mexico standards of learning.
• Environment: ACI supports the elimination of the State Total Suspended Particulate (TSP) standard and re-drafting of the state air quality regulations consistent with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, to make New Mexico competitive with other jurisdictions and alleviate unnecessary compliance costs.
• Health care: ACI supports maximization of federal funds through actions such as fully funding the state Medicaid program and Safety Net Care Pool.
• Legal reform: ACI supports forum-shopping limitations on choosing courts for filing of litigation in a jurisdiction perceived to be more favorable to the plaintiff.
• Regulatory and government accountability: ACI supports expansion of the Administrative Hearing Office to conduct hearings on administrative adjudicatory actions raising from all state agencies using its own qualified, professional, objective, and independent hearing officers or administrative law judges.
• Taxation: ACI supports the evaluation of the entire state tax code for recommendations to create a stable revenue source without a disproportionate burden on particular industries, individuals or employers and in conjunction with a statewide economic development plan; ACI opposes mandatory unitary combined reporting.
• Water and land use: ACI supports the creation of public-private partnerships to develop water infrastructure that will provide public benefits, such as economical infrastructure project delivery and water conservation.
• Workplace issues: ACI supports statewide uniformity of employment laws, such as paid or unpaid leave mandates, wage or fringe benefit mandates, and scheduling mandates, in order to provide a stable environment for employers and promote economic development.
If there’s a policy priority listed above that resonates with you, maybe because of challenges or circumstances associated with your business, please contact us. There’s a number of ways businesspersons all over the state can assist with passing our pro-business agenda in Santa Fe.
Playing defense throughout the legislative session is not a winning strategy, and I am here to tell you that, for New Mexico’s sake, ACI is in it to win it. That is why, at the beginning of my tenure, ACI refocused on developing a pro-business, proactive policy agenda each year, and we are proposing reforms that can garner bipartisan supporters – if not bipartisan co-sponsors.
Jason Espinoza is the president and CEO of the New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry.