Lawmakers lay out priorities for special session | KOB 4
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Lawmakers lay out priorities for special session

Joy Wang
Updated: November 19, 2020 10:11 PM
Created: November 19, 2020 09:43 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- The governor called a special legislative session to get help to New Mexico families and businesses that are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She wants lawmakers to use $300 million from the CARES Act. 

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"The state legislature and the governor are stepping up and doing what we can with the resources available to us to put more money into unemployment checks," said House Speaker Brian Egolf. "It's a substantial amount, $300 a week for four weeks."

The $300 would be added to what people on unemployment are currently receiving.

The governor always wants lawmakers to approve rental assistance and grants for small businesses.

"The last bit is, we're looking at the possibility of including some additional funding for the Health Department to make sure that New Mexico is ready to receive, store and deploy vaccines," Egolf said.

The new Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at an extremely low temperature.

"We do, at the VA hospital in Albuquerque, have a storage facility that can reach that 80 degrees below zero Fahrenheit level, but that doesn't exist in clinics and  pharmacies and hospitals around the state," Egolf said. "So, helping to upgrade our medical infrastructure on that front is going to be an important part."

House Republican Leader Jim Townsend said he wants other stuff addressed as well.

"Really want to see a significant effort on contact tracing, testing, and get the test results back to those people that have been tested in a timely fashion," he said. "Just sending $300 to a family over a four-week period or repeatedly over a four-week period is certainly helpful when they're unemployed, we get that we're not trying to obstruct that, but we also think that this growing pandemic issues that we're seeing are a direct result of not being able to get testing back to the people, contact tracing done expeditiously, so we stop the spread of the virus."

Egolf said he wants to special session to be conducted remotely. He will need at least one Republican vote to make that happen. Townsend will not be that vote.

"For this special session that the governor is calling, I don't think any of that remote work is going to be necessary," he said. "I think if we do our jobs as leaders, and the Speaker gets the information to us in a timely manner, we'll get our people to vet that stuff out, And I think we can work on it very quickly

No matter, how the proceedings take place, the public will not be allowed inside the Roundhouse. They will have to participate remotely.
 


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