ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Several bills introduced in this legislative session are aimed at helping local businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic. Local business owners who said they are eligible for relief under these bills say they are happy to see that lawmakers are thinking of them.
New Mexico-owned businesses continue to struggle. “It has definitely been very hard opening, closing and changing things constantly,” said Eric Wilson.
Wilson is the owner and chef of the two Slapfish locations in Albuquerque. Since March of last year, the restaurants’ sales have gone down 60 to 70%. “We have been operating in a deficit since March,” Wilson said.
A set of three new bills now introduced in the legislature aim to help struggling businesses like his. “It means the legislature is noticing we need some help,” said Wilson.
Senate Bill 1 would provide temporary tax relief to small businesses that have been most impacted by this pandemic, including restaurants that have been forced to close. Wilson said that one would be the most meaningful for his business. “It definitely would help out a lot,” said Wilson. “It is more expensive for us to do take out and to go being sustainable.”
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Senate Bill 2 would waive 2021 liquor license fees for places like restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. A sponsor for all three bills, Sen. Jacob Candelaria said that would save impacted businesses $5 million. “Those businesses still had to pay licenses amounting to tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to do business, but they were prevented from doing business by the state, so Senate Bill 2 will reimburse those license fees,” said Candelaria.
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Senate Bill 3 would be a re-authorization of the Small Business Recovery Act, which Candelaria said would put up to $500 million on the table over the next two years for New Mexico businesses.
Eric Wilson said he is happy to see business recovery is a priority for legislators. “That is what we have been looking for all along is some sort of plan to help us not only get back on our feet, but what will we do once we are starting to rebuild,” said Wilson.
Legislators also introduced a bill to change the state’s liquor laws to keep local restaurants and bars afloat. It would allow for alcohol to be delivered to your home. However, there would be some rules. Deliveries would not be made to minors, schools or universities, or anyone who is drunk.