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Tierna Unruh-Enos is the managing editor and associate publisher at The Paper.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham called the Legislature into a special session scheduled to start March 30 to take up a pair of bills that were left unfinished in the 60-day session: legalizing adult-use cannabis and expanding the Local Economic Development Act, or LEDA.

“The unique circumstances of the session, with public health safeguards in place, in my view, prevented the measures on my call from crossing the finish line,” said Lujan Grisham. “While I applaud the Legislature and staff for their incredible perseverance and productivity during the 60-day in the face of these challenges, we must and we will forge ahead and finish the job on these initiatives together.”


Cannabis Legalization
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle attempted to work out the details of House Bill 12, legalizing adult-use recreational cannabis in the final hours of the 60-day session. The governor has cited legalization as a significant economic driver. The measure is estimated to create over 11,000 jobs and, according to the governor, “will be one of the largest job creation programs in New Mexico history” while allowing the state to join the 15 states that now have legalization on the books. HB 12 was awaiting a Senate vote when the Legislature adjourned earlier this month and failed to make it to the floor. A few key points that the bill is expected to have are: legalization set to begin in 2022, establishing a maximum 20 percent tax, calling for the state to regulate the recreational program, setting no limits on the number of licenses issued and creating opportunities for small-time entrepreneurs through “micro-licenses.” The bill could also include a social justice clause which would expunge the criminal records for people who have been convicted of possessing it for personal use. Republicans have argued against including a social justice component.


LEDA Job Creation Expansion
This initiative was introduced in the 60-day session and promises to make New Mexico more competitive and allow the state Economic Development Department to work with local governments through the LEDA fund to provide more assistance to job-creating projects that would have a significant economic impact. The breakdown is that it allows local municipalities to give companies money for moving to New Mexico. It would allow a portion of some state and local gross receipts tax and compensating revenue from the construction of large projects (more than $350 million) to be placed into the LEDA fund to recruit those large projects and to replenish the assistance for smaller projects. All local governments affected must agree to the revenue sharing. “This will give us even more options to create higher-paying jobs and diversify the economy,” said Lujan Grisham.


This is the third special session the governor has called during her administration.

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