NMAA Legislative Update

ACTIONS LAST WEEK AND THIS WEEK:

 

·         SB 86 (Cisneros) Online Notice of Water Transfers: Passed Senate and its first Committee in the House. Not yet scheduled for House State Government Committee.

·         SB 222 (Stefanics) Exemption from Local Public Body: Passed Senate and scheduled for House State Government Committee, Thursday, March 2, 1:30pm. Room 315.

·         SB 157 (Wirth) Interstate Stream Commission Membership: Passed two Senate Committees and scheduled for Senate Floor vote.

·         SB 350 (Wirth) Agricultural Valuations. Creates an alternative valuation for land formerly in agriculture but not in residential. Passed Senate Corporations Committee and scheduled for Senate Finance Committee Monday, February 27.

·         SB 307 (Martinez) Oil and Gas Powers and Penalties. Increases penalties for contamination. Passed Senate Conservation Committee and not yet scheduled in Senate Judiciary.

·         HB 418 (Armstrong) Interbasin Water Right Requirements. Requires that State Engineer consider additional criteria in interbasin transfers greater than 1,000 acre feet. Passed House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee and not yet scheduled for House Energy and Natural Resources.

 

ALSO LAST WEEK:

 

·         NMAA gave a presentation about Acequias and Community Ditches to the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee, Thursday, February 23, 8:30am, Room 315.

 

BILL SUMMARIES

 

SB 86 (Cisneros/T. Salazar) Online Notice of Water Transfers: This legislation promotes transparency relating to water right applications before the State Engineer. The bill amends existing statute, which currently requires newspaper publication, by requiring that the same notices be posted online on the State Engineer’s website. The bill passed the Senate Conservation Committee unanimously but there was an agreement to address issues raised by the OSE. A substitute with compromise language was approved by Senate Judiciary. The compromise language requires notice but specifies that posting online is a “public service” and not legal notice with a remedy.

 

SB 222 (Stefanics) Increase Threshold for Budget Reporting: This bill will amend the definition of “local public body” for purposes of budget reporting to DFA changing the threshold from $10,000 to $50,000 such that any entity under $50,000 would be exempt from reporting.

 

SB 435 (Wirth) No Water Use before Approvals. Clarifies that the State Engineer cannot authorize use of water before application has been approved.

 

SB 12 (Ortiz y Pino) Legal Services for Land Grants and Acequias: NMAA supports this bill to create a legal internship at UNM to train attorneys to practice law relating to land grants and acequias. The bill passed Senate Conservation Committee and is not yet scheduled for its second committee, Senate Finance.

 

HM 1 (T.Salazar) Regional Water Planning Process Improvements: NMAA supports this memorial which asks the Interstate Stream Commission to appoint a task force to make recommendations to improve the regional water planning process. This passed House Agriculture and Water Resources without Recommendation and has not yet been scheduled on the House Floor.  

 

HJM 3 (Maestas-Barnes-M.Garcia) Alternative Designations for Forest Land near Pecos: This memorial requests the USFS consider alternative designations to wilderness instead of expansion of the Pecos Wilderness to protect access and traditional uses. This memorial is passed the House Local Government, Land Grants, and Cultural Affairs Committee and is scheduled for the House Floor.

 

SB 157 (Wirth) Interstate Stream Commission Membership: NMAA supports this bill which repeals the current statute defining membership and replaces it with new language. The Commission would remain at nine members (including State Engineer) but broadens representation to require representation from irrigation district (2), acequias (1), tribes (1), conservation (1), universities (1), hydrologist (1), and WRRI (1). By requiring an acequia representative as a member, it improves acequia representation over the status quo.

 

SB 350 (Wirth) Agricultural Land Valuations. This bill creates a new category of valuation for property taxes that would allow formerly agricultural land to be taxed at a rate lower than residential but higher than agricultural. The rationale is that it would protect land in open space and allow land owners to retain a special valuation for land that is not intended for residential development.

 

HB 207 (Salazar) Funding for Organic Program. Appropriates $125,000 for program to fund staff for organic certification.

 

SB 379 (Woods)/HB 208 (Hall-Egolf) NM Grown Fresh Produce in School Meals. Appropriates $1.2 million to the Public Education Department for schools to purchase local food.

 

HB 298 (Sweetser) Agriculture in Economic Development Act. Amends the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) and adds agriculture to the types of business that can be funded with local LEDA funds. House Business and Industry, Monday, February 27, 1:30pm.

 

HB 305 (Sweetser) Food Safety Compliance. Would allow NM Department of Agriculture to promulgate rules and regulations to implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). House Business and Industry, Monday, February 27, 1:30pm.

 

SB 307 (Martinez) Oil and Gas Powers and Penalties. Increases the penalties for contamination of a water source.

 

HB 418 (Armstrong) Interbasin Water Transfer Requirements. Establishes criteria to be considered by State Engineer for interbasin water transfers.

 

SB 435 (Wirth) No Water Use before Approvals. Clarifies that the State Engineer cannot authorize use of water before application has been approved.

 

HB 472 (Sweetser) Water Right Administration Changes. Seeks to protect access to water rights on public lands for livestock watering.

 

Protect Capital Outlay/Infrastructure Funding for Acequias:

·         NMAA is working with acequias who received Capital Outlay in recent years to assist with audit and budget compliance as well as coordinating with agency partners to troubleshoot issues relating to their funding.

·         NMAA advocates for continuation of funding for the Interstate Stream Commission 90-10 Program from the Irrigation Works Construction Fund (HB 2 contains $1.9 million for the ISC Acequia Program).

 

·         HB 5 (Dodge/Lundstrom) Capital Outlay Project Changes: This bill is part of a package of bills to address solvency for FY17, the current fiscal year by sweeping funding from certain projects or funds. As introduced, the bill had language to “claw back” Capital Outlay funds from nine acequias but that language was amended out of the bill. The House did not concur with Senate changes to the bill.

·         SB 101 (Cisneros) will likely be the Capital Outlay bill for the 2017 session. As introduced, it includes only statewide capital projects. There is a relatively smaller amount of Capital Outlay for the upcoming FY18 fiscal year. Over two dozen acequias submitted requests for local projects but it is not certain at this time that there will be funding available. In the meantime, acequias who submitted requests are encouraged to stay in touch with your individual legislators.