NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A bill in the Roundhouse would give thousands of low-income people e-bikes at steep discounts. Backers of the bill say it would help New Mexicans and the environment.

Senate Bill 343 would give e-bikes retailers cash rebates of up to $1,200 if the person they sold it to provides proof they are a low-income resident – a person whose annual household income does not exceed 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.

“Often our tax policy benefits upper-income people you know when you talk about electric vehicles and things like that and how many people can even afford an electric vehicle? So, this is really interesting and unique in the way that it’s geared to help low-income people take advantage of some new technology that will be environmentally friendly,” says Senator Jeff Steinborn (D-Las Cruces), lead sponsor of this bill.

The bill asks for around $5 million from the general fund to give these rebates to the retailers. The dollar amount can vary under this bill, between $1,200 or the cost of the bike – whichever is lower.

E-bike retailers would have to include a helmet and safety guidelines with the sale to qualify. If the bike gets returned, the money would have to be given back, too.

“New Mexico has a lot of one-time money right now and we know people are dealing with, it’s expensive out there. And people are struggling to hang on to their homes and places to live and pay the bills. This is a way, some assistance, use some of this one-time money to help lower-income people really be able to lower their bills,” Steinborn says.

The bill says it would be up to the Department of Finance and Administration to distribute the money. This bill only calls for one-time funding which means once it’s gone, it’s gone. More funding would have to be approved to continue the program beyond that.

The bill is scheduled to be discussed in the Senate Tax Committee on Thursday evening, Mar. 2.