Wildfire recovery fund passes first committee hearing

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SANTA FE, N.M. – Thousands of northern New Mexicans are still trying to recover from the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire last summer.

The federal government has promised to cover the cost of repairs but getting those funds has been a slow and sometimes complicated process. Now, the Roundhouse is considering new ways to speed up the process.

In the first committee hearing for Senate Bill 6, also known as the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Recovery fund. 

SB 6 is not the only fire relief bill making its way through the Roundhouse, but it is very specific to the communities impacted by the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire. The goal of this bill is to expedite funds directly to those local governments, so they don’t have to wait on the federal government to start rebuilding. 

SB 6 is asking for $100 million to be given out to local governments in the form of loans. Then, when these communities finally get their money from FEMA or the federal government that money would be used to pay back the state.

During Monday’s committee, multiple members from the Las Vegas city council asked representatives to support SB 6 because they still have a lot of work left to do.

“This will open up the flood gates to allow us to get back to normal if there ever is a normal,” said Michael Montoya, a Las Vegas city councilor.

“We know reimbursements are going to take a while so this is something that will help get us going,” said David Romero, another Las Vegas city councilor.

In the end, the bill passed unanimously and will move on to its next committee.

Sponsors of SB 6 say they hope the next hearing will go just as smoothly because they would like to see this bill on the governors’ desk as soon as possible, so they can start sending money to northern New Mexico.

Track SB 6 during the legislative session.