By Emily Crowe
CNJ STAFF WRITER
The Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce held its annual legislative breakfast Thursday to bring local legislators and entities together to discuss priorities for the upcoming state legislative session.
Attending were Curry County legislators, Rep. George Dodge, Jr., D-Santa Rosa, Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, Rep. Anna Crook, R-Clovis and Sen. Pat Woods, R-Broadview.
Each spoke on the issues that will be front and center at the legislative session, which will be held Jan. 21 through Feb. 20 in Santa Fe, mainly focusing on education, renewable energy, water conservation and farming issues.
According to Ingle, the state’s struggling lottery scholarship will likely undergo changes during the session to include additional state funding, as well as an increase in both grade point average and required credit hours for students.
“There are going to be some changes there,” he said. “The money, I think, we’re just basically going to take that out of the general fund around $11 or $12 million to keep funding it and hopefully the lottery sales continue.”
Woods said he will introduce legislation during the session to extend renewable energy tax credits.
“I’m carrying this for several co-ops in the area that are trying to get some solar energy,” he said. “What this will do, it will increase the cap for tax credits because right now we have a queue process in which tax credits are pretty well taken up for several years in the future.”
Dodge, who serves as chairman of the legislature’s agriculture and water resources committee, shared the adage that water is the new platinum in our state, and that his committee deals every day with water issues.
Dodge will also reintroduce a state Right to Farm Act that would protect agricultural businesses from being deemed a nuisance by neighbors and courts.
“The issue is that nuisance lawsuits have been filed against 11 dairies in the state of New Mexico by out-of-state lawyers,” said Dairy Farmers of America representative Walter Bradley. “If they’re successful and they continue what they’ve been doing in other states they will wipe out the second largest income producer for the state of New Mexico.”
Local officials and entities also took time to share their capital outlay funding wish lists with legislators.
For Curry County, the main priorities are renovations to the Adult Detention Center, county roads, remediation at 417 Gidding St. to move county administration offices and new a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for the courthouse, according to County Manager Lance Pyle.
City Manager Joe Thomas said the city of Clovis is requesting capital outlay funds for the Ute Pipeline project, effluent reuse project and city roads to include improving a stretch of Seventh Street between Prince and Norris streets.