SENATE BILL 43
56th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - second session, 2024
RELATING TO PUBLIC UTILITIES; ENACTING THE UTILITY EASEMENTS FOR BROADBAND ACT; AUTHORIZING THE USE AND SHARING OF UTILITY EASEMENTS FOR THE PROVISION OF COMMUNICATIONS SERVICE THROUGHOUT THE STATE; PROVIDING DEFINITIONS.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. A new section of Chapter 62 NMSA 1978 is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] SHORT TITLE.--This act may be cited as the "Utility Easements for Broadband Act"."
SECTION 2. A new section of Chapter 62 NMSA 1978 is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] DEFINITIONS.--As used in the Utility Easements for Broadband Act:
A. "burdened parcel" means a parcel of real property subject to a utility easement other than lands under the custody and control of the commissioner of public lands;
B. "communications infrastructure" means any wireline or wireless facilities and equipment, including amplifiers, antennae, cable, conduits, ducts, fiber, optronics, poles, structures, towers, transmitters, wires or other facilities or equipment owned by a public utility and used in connection with the provision of communications service;
C. "communications service" means any technology having the capacity to transmit data or other signals to enable a user of the service to originate and receive graphics, data, video, voice or other modes of communication;
D. "public utility" means "public utility" as defined in the Public Utility Act; and
E. "utility easement" means a franchise, easement, whether recorded or unrecorded, license, permit, right of way or similar right in real property, including a prescriptive right or any right of way acquired pursuant to Chapter 62, Article 1 NMSA 1978 held by a public utility."
SECTION 3. A new section of Chapter 62 NMSA 1978 is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] USE OF UTILITY EASEMENTS.--
A. For a burdened parcel with a utility easement that does not already provide for or permit the installation, maintenance, removal or use of communications infrastructure, a public utility may:
(1) acquire, construct, install, maintain, operate, own, remove or upgrade its communications infrastructure across, in, on, over or under the portion of a burdened parcel that is subject to a utility easement and may permit third parties to do so on behalf of the public utility;
(2) lease, license, provide a right to use or transfer in whole or in part any of its communications infrastructure located in a utility easement; and
(3) enter and access the burdened parcel for the purposes or actions as may be reasonably necessary or desirable in connection with actions pursuant to this subsection.
B. A public utility's exercise of rights under Subsection A of this section is subject to a generally applicable requirement on the burdened parcel to locate utilities underground if provided by:
(1) an ordinance regarding subdivision plats pursuant to Chapter 3, Articles 19 and 20 NMSA 1978, or Chapter 47, Articles 5 and 6 NMSA 1978, as applicable; or
(2) rules promulgated by a zoning authority pursuant to Chapter 3, Article 21 NMSA 1978.
C. Upon a public utility's exercise of rights under Subsection A of this section, such rights run with the land and are valid and binding on successors-in-interest of the owner and any holder of an interest in the burdened parcel regardless of a lack of privity of estate or contract."
SECTION 4. A new section of Chapter 62 NMSA 1978 is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] OTHER PROVISIONS REGARDING UTILITY EASEMENTS.--
A. A public utility's power of eminent domain pursuant to Section 62-1-4 NMSA 1978 shall include the power to enter upon the burdened parcel and appropriate the rights set forth in Subsection A of Section 3 of the Utility Easements for Broadband Act within the utility easement.
B. A public utility's exercise of rights under Subsection A of Section 3 of the Utility Easements for Broadband Act shall not be deemed to dedicate a utility easement for public or compatible use.
C. Nothing in the Utility Easements for Broadband Act shall be deemed to obligate a public utility to retroactively provide any rights or access to a communications service provider or to impose any obligations or restrictions on the terms and conditions on which a public utility may contract with a communications service provider regarding communications infrastructure in a utility easement.
D. Nothing in the Utility Easements for Broadband Act shall be deemed to obligate a public utility to provide any communications service to any person, but a public utility may provide communications service subject to such laws and rules as may be generally applicable to other communications service providers."
SECTION 5. EFFECTIVE DATE.--The effective date of the provisions of this act is July 1, 2024.
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