Business watchdogs approve of legislation

By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer

Now that the legislative session is over, lobbyists and business owners alike are tracking which bills the governor will sign into law and which ones he will veto. For businesses and industry associations, a mixture of tax holidays, incentives and cuts makes the news from the legislature seem pretty cheery.

“We consider it a very positive session for the state’s business community,” said John Carey, president and chief executive officer of the Association of Commerce and Industry of New Mexico, which lobbies on behalf of business statewide.

The ACI released its Roundhouse Report last week detailing legislation passed this year that may affect business in the state.

According to the press release, about 500 pieces of legislation sit on Gov. Bill Richardson’s desk awaiting the final action of being signed into law or vetoed. However, Carey said he expects the majority of pro-business bills to pass.

“We worked very closely with the Richardson administration during the session,” he said. “And on most of the legislation we felt Richardson was supportive, and we had strong bipartisan support from both houses of the legislature.”

However, ACI has asked the governor to veto one bill they believe would hurt business.

House bill 581 would allow local government to add a local tax on top of an existing state tax levied on businesses that purchase equipment out of state.

“I think it would make us less competitive,” Carey said. “We think the existing 5 percent rate is ample.”

ACI officials will host a 7 a.m. meeting April 8 at Clovis Community College to speak with chamber members about legislation that will benefit the area.

“They will inform us how it all shook out,” said Ernie Kos, executive director of the Clovis/Curry County Chamber. “It will also give us a chance to thank our legislators for all their hard work during the session.”

She said area legislators usually attend the meeting, which traditionally substitutes as the April breakfast meeting for the chamber.

Some local business leaders have also tracked legislation on their own.

Gayla Brumfield, president of Colonial Real Estate, said a Senate bill will change the way brokers are licensed.

“You have to have more education hours to get the broker qualification,” she said. “It’s all about more professionalism and education.”

She said the extra education will be good for the industry, and she supported the passage of the bill.

Sandra Taylor-Sawyer, who heads up the Small Business Development Center at CCC, said about $3 million was allocated by the Legislature among 18 business centers statewide.

That money will go toward supporting the small business incubator at her center, as well as supporting a statewide business retention and expansion program.

Business provisions the Association of Commerce and Industry supports:
• A three-year tax holiday for small research and development businesses

• A military installation research and development tax credit

• An aircraft refurbishing and maintenance tax credit to boost industry growth in Roswell and Albuquerque

• Gross receipts tax pyramiding relief for small businesses

• A three-day gross receipts tax holiday to provide relief for parents purchasing school supplies and clothes

• Expanded eligibility for the renewable energy tax credit

• Expanded eligibility for the film production tax credit to “post production” expenses, such as editing, subtitling and dialogue dubbing

• Middle and moderate personal income tax cuts

• Permanent enactment of the rural jobs tax credit

Source: The Association of Commerce and Industry