SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – For most New Mexicans, internet access is a necessity. But many regions of the state lack reliable access. But Tuesday February 14, legislators are set to consider a bill that could help the state expand broadband.

Broadband developments

Senate Bill 97, sponsored by Sen. Michael Padilla (D-Abq.) and Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos, Sandoval & Santa Fe), could help the state expand broadband. The bill would let the State Land Office authorize broadband infrastructure on state lands and would let the State Land Office waive fees.

The state’s Office of Broadband Access and Expansion says the bill could help with the goal of getting statewide internet access, according to comments in an analysis. But the bill could potentially reduce revenue for the State Land Office, which helps fund education in New Mexico.

Acequia disaster funds

Just like internet, water is virtually essential to New Mexico. Around the state, many New Mexicans rely on acequias to access water. But sometimes, disasters damage acequias. In fact, wildfires in 2022 created significant acequia damage.

Now, legislators are set to consider a bill to increase the funds available for acequia repair. Senate Bill 176, sponsored by a handful of Democratic legislators, would add $2.5 million to the acequia and community ditch infrastructure fund and allow that fund to be used for disaster response.

In case you missed it: Should voters decide the fate of PED?

Yesterday, legislators in the Senate Rules Committee considered a joint resolution to let New Mexico’s voters decide the fate of the Public Education Department. The joint resolution would amend the state’s constitution and let voters replace the current structure of the Public Education Department with an elected board of education if they so choose.

Monday, the Senate Rules Committee moved the bill forward. Supporters pointed to the fact that there’s been six Public Education Department secretaries in the last 20 years as evidence that the state could use a change. For more info, check out this KRQE News 13 story.