Saturday, March 14, 2009

Senate Judiciary Committee Passes HB 185: Breaking News

Saturday evening 8 P.M.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 9-0 this afternoon to give HB 185 a Do Pass recommendation. The bill would merge 5 mutual domestic water associations into one regional Authority. The bill passed through the House of Representatives unanimously on February 25, and was heard both in the Senate Conservation and Judiciary committees this week. It received a unanimous vote of approval in the Senate Conservation Committee earlier this week. The bill is expected to reach the floor of the Senate on Monday for a vote, where it is expected to pass, and then be sent to the governor's office.

Mr. Pat Banegas, manager of the Anthony Water and Sanitation District, was in Santa Fe today, urging members of the committee to vote against the bill. He was accompanied by Frank Coppler, an attorney for the Anthony Water and Sanitation District. This was his first appearance in Santa Fe in connection with this bill. I was not able to ascertain what Banegas' arguments were against the bill.

Except for Mr. Banegas, whose opposition was unexpected, the bill has received a great deal of support from many sectors, including the governor's office, the office of the state engineer,
the Elephant Butte Irrigation District, the New Mexico Farm Bureau, the Groundwater Drillers Association, and the League of Conservation Voters. There was no opposition from the Municipal League or from Dona Ana County, or the Association of Counties.

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