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Northern New Mexico legislators seek to address COVID-19 pandemic, homeless youth and economy

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
A bill to help frontline health care workers was offered in Santa Fe on Jan. 15 by Rep. Anthony Allison, D-Fruitland. In this file photo, health care workers from Northern Navajo Medical Center, San Juan County Public Health Office and the National Guard collected samples from the public at a free COVID-19 testing site on May 5, 2020 in Shiprock.

AZTEC — Rep. Anthony Allison, D-Fruitland, has seen the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on his constituents in Navajo Nation and other parts of San Juan County. He has advocated for assistance to Navajo Nation residents.

Now he has introduced a bill that would help the healthcare workers who have been on the frontlines during the pandemic.

House Bill 104 would expand the rural health tax credit to provide a tax credit to registered nurses, licensed midwives and essential health care workers who have worked during the pandemic. The essential health care workers include custodians and security staff.

The bill was filed on Jan. 15 and, on Jan. 19, it was referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee.

State Rep. Anthony Allison, D-Fruitland, listens to remarks about social issues female veterans face on the Navajo Nation at the Northern Navajo Veterans Center in Shiprock in this undated file photo.

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Johnson focuses on homeless youth

Rep. D. Wonda Johnson, D-Rehoboth, is focused on helping homeless youth with bills she has introduced this week.

House Bill 118 would provide tax credits for employers who employ homeless youth. Meanwhile House Bill 127 would make it easier for homeless youth to obtain a REAL-ID compliant state identification card. If it passes, the normal fees would be waived for the homeless youth obtaining the card.

Doreen Wonda Johnson

The Homeless Youth Employment Tax Credit bill has been referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee and the Homeless Youth ID Cards bill has been referred to the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee.

Both bills were introduced on Jan. 19.

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House committee will hear bill relating to the Electric Facility Authority Board

Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, Rep. Harry Garcia, D-Grants, and Rep. Eliseo Lee Alcon, D-Milan, have once again introduced legislation hoping to address the economic challenges their districts will face following the closure of the Escalante Generating Station.

Last year, Lundstrom sponsored the Electric Generating Facility Economic District Act, which was signed into law on March 9. Garcia and Alcon also signed on as sponsors of the bill last year.

Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, asks a question, Monday, Sept. 9, 2019, during an Indian Affairs Committee meeting at Dine College in Shiprock.

Now the trio of representatives is building upon that law with legislation that would outline who is eligible to serve as board members for the Electric Facility Authority Board created by the Electric Generating Facility Economic District Act.

The bill was filed on Jan. 11. It was referred to the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee on Jan. 20. The committee is scheduled to discuss the bill when it meets at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 25. This meeting can be viewed online at nmlegis.gov.

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Other bills sponsored by Northwest New Mexico legislators

Sen. Steve Neville, R-Farmington, has reached across the aisle to sponsor Senate Bill 124, which deals with processing and payment of pharmacy insurance claims. Neville is sponsoring the legislation with Sen. Bill Tallman, D-Albuquerque. It has been referred to the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee.

Lundstrom has sponsored the General Appropriations Act of 2021, which has been referred to the House Appropriations & Finance Committee.

Lundstrom has also sponsored a bill with Garcia and Speaker of the House Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, relating to public school funding. This legislation, House Bill 6, is known as State Equalization Guarantee Distributions. It has been referred to the House Education Committee.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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