SENATE BILL 49
56th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - second session, 2024
Siah Correa Hemphill
RELATING TO PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE; ENACTING THE RURAL INFRASTRUCTURE CRISIS RESPONSE ACT; CREATING THE RURAL INFRASTRUCTURE CRISIS RESPONSE FUND; ESTABLISHING ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE; CREATING THE BUREAU OF RURAL INFRASTRUCTURE CRISIS RESPONSE; PROVIDING DUTIES; AMENDING THE TRIBAL INFRASTRUCTURE ACT TO MAKE THE TRIBAL INFRASTRUCTURE BOARD THE FISCAL AGENT FOR ASSISTANCE FROM THE RURAL INFRASTRUCTURE CRISIS RESPONSE FUND FOR PROJECTS OWNED OR OPERATED BY INDIAN NATIONS, TRIBES AND PUEBLOS; MAKING AN APPROPRIATION.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. [NEW MATERIAL] SHORT TITLE.--Sections 1 through 4 of this act may be cited as the "Rural Infrastructure Crisis Response Act".
SECTION 2. [NEW MATERIAL] DEFINITIONS.--As used in the Rural Infrastructure Crisis Response Act:
A. "bureau" means the bureau of rural infrastructure crisis response of the local government division of the department of finance and administration;
B. "crisis event" means an unforeseen power surge, weather or other event that disables the use of critical public infrastructure. A "crisis event" may include damage to constructed infrastructure, durable equipment or the unforeseeable loss of a public resource, such as loss of a community water source due to a dam failure or extreme drought, but does not include a foreseeable loss of a public resource such as depletion of a water source due to regular pumping over time;
C. "critical public infrastructure" means public infrastructure or durable equipment that is required for public health, safety or welfare of individuals or communities and includes dams, transportation infrastructure and infrastructure essential to the delivery of utility services;
D. "durable equipment" means equipment of a permanent or non-depletable nature that is necessary in the use of critical public infrastructure;
E. "eligible project" means a project that is eligible for financial assistance pursuant to Subsection A of Section 3 of the Rural Infrastructure Crisis Response Act;
F. "fund" means the rural infrastructure crisis response fund;
G. "local authority" means:
(1) a municipality that has a population of less than twenty thousand according to the latest federal decennial census;
(2) a county that has a population of less than one hundred fifty thousand according to the latest federal decennial census;
(3) an Indian nation, tribe or pueblo located wholly or partially in New Mexico; or
(4) a mutual domestic water consumers association or a water and sanitation district that maintains local roads or provides utility services to fewer than six thousand billed customers;
H. "relief request" means a request for financial assistance for a project to repair or replace critical public infrastructure that has experienced a crisis event;
I. "repair or replace" means repair or replacement of critical public infrastructure to the same level of functionality or service as the infrastructure provided prior to a crisis event;
J. "secretary" means the secretary of finance and administration; and
K. "utility services" means broadband, electricity, natural gas, solid waste, water or wastewater services.
SECTION 3. [NEW MATERIAL] INFRASTRUCTURE ELIGIBILITY-- RELIEF REQUEST--EVALUATION--DETERMINATION--PROCEDURES AND RULES.--
A. Beginning on January 1, 2025, a project for repair or replacement of critical public infrastructure is eligible for financial assistance if a relief request has been submitted to the bureau pursuant to Subsection B of this section and the secretary has made a determination of eligibility pursuant to Subsection D of this section that the project meets the following requirements:
(1) the project is for repair or replacement of critical public infrastructure damaged due to a crisis event; provided that a project for repair shall only be eligible for assistance if the cost of the repair is fifty percent or greater than the cost of replacement;
(2) the damage to the critical public infrastructure severely affects the public health, safety or welfare of a community;
(3) the local authority does not have the resources to repair or replace the critical public infrastructure; and
(4) no other source of financial assistance is available to the local authority to repair or replace the critical public infrastructure within eighty-one days of the crisis event.
B. A relief request may be submitted to the bureau by the governing body of a local authority or a state representative or state senator due to a crisis event in the district the state representative or state senator represents; provided that a relief request shall include a recommendation by the regional planning commission for the region in which the crisis event occurred regarding the eligibility of the project for financial assistance.
C. Within thirty days of receiving a relief request pursuant to Subsection B of this section, the bureau shall provide an engineering and financial evaluation to the secretary regarding whether the relief request meets the eligibility requirements of Subsection A of this section and shall make a recommendation regarding whether the local authority qualifies for financial hardship as established by the bureau by rule.
D. Within fifteen days of receiving an evaluation pursuant to Subsection C of this section, the secretary shall make a formal determination regarding whether the project in a relief request meets the eligibility requirements pursuant to Subsection A of this section and whether the local authority qualifies for financial hardship.
E. Upon a determination of eligibility pursuant to Subsection D of this section, the secretary shall:
(1) for critical infrastructure that is owned by a tribal local authority, award a grant from the fund to the tribal infrastructure board to repair or replace the damaged critical public infrastructure in question; or
(2) for critical infrastructure that is owned by a non-tribal local authority, award a grant from the fund to the local authority to repair or replace the damaged critical public infrastructure.
F. The secretary shall not issue a total of awards pursuant to Subsection E of this section worth more than one million dollars ($1,000,000) for rural infrastructure crisis response projects within any given county in a calendar year.
SECTION 4. [NEW MATERIAL] RURAL INFRASTRUCTURE CRISIS RESPONSE FUND--CREATED--PURPOSE--APPROPRIATIONS.--
A. The "rural infrastructure crisis response fund" is created in the state treasury. The fund consists of appropriations, donations, interest from investment of the fund and other money distributed to the fund. The department of finance and administration shall administer the fund and may establish subaccounts for the fund. Money in the fund is appropriated to the department of finance and administration for expenditure as provided in this section. Disbursements from the fund shall be made by warrant of the secretary pursuant to vouchers signed by the secretary or the secretary's designee. Money in the fund shall not revert at the end of a fiscal year.
B. Money in the fund may be used to make grants to a local authority, or to the tribal infrastructure board when an eligible project is owned or operated by a tribe, for eligible projects that have been approved pursuant to Subsection E of Section 3 of the Rural Infrastructure Crisis Response Act for up to:
(1) ninety-five percent of the total cost of an eligible project; provided that the local authority has demonstrated an ability, and has contracted, to provide the remainder of the project costs from sources other than the state; or
(2) one hundred percent of the total cost of an eligible project if a financial hardship recommendation is made by the bureau and approved by the secretary.
C. An eligible project that requires construction shall be designed in compliance with engineering requirements established by the bureau.
D. By November 30 of each year, the department of finance and administration shall provide a report to the appropriate interim legislative committee on the status of the fund, the status of the eligible projects for which grants have been made from the fund and the outstanding demand for assistance from the fund.
SECTION 5. Section 6-29-5 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 2005, Chapter 146, Section 5) is amended to read:
"6-29-5. BOARD--DUTIES.--The board shall:
A. adopt rules governing terms, conditions and priorities for providing financial assistance to tribes, including developing application and evaluation procedures and forms and qualifications for applicants and for projects;
B. provide financial assistance to tribes for qualified projects on terms and conditions established by the board;
C. authorize funding for qualified projects, including:
(1) planning, designing, constructing, improving, expanding or equipping water and wastewater facilities, major water systems, electrical power lines, communications infrastructure, roads, health infrastructure, emergency response facilities and infrastructure needed to encourage economic development;
(2) developing engineering feasibility reports for infrastructure projects;
(3) inspecting construction of qualified projects;
(4) providing special engineering services;
(5) completing environmental assessments or archaeological clearances and other surveys for infrastructure projects;
(6) acquiring land, easements or rights of way; and
(7) paying legal costs and fiscal agent fees associated with development of qualified projects; and
D. act as the fiscal agent for projects owned or operated by tribes that receive financial assistance pursuant to the Rural Infrastructure Crisis Response Act."
SECTION 6. A new section of the Department of Finance and Administration Act is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] BUREAU OF RURAL INFRASTRUCTURE CRISIS RESPONSE CREATED--DUTIES.--The "bureau of rural infrastructure crisis response" is created within the local government division of the department of finance and administration. The bureau shall evaluate relief requests pursuant to Section 3 of the Rural Infrastructure Crisis Response Act."
SECTION 7. APPROPRIATION.--One hundred million dollars ($100,000,000) is appropriated from the general fund to the department of finance and administration to implement the Rural Infrastructure Crisis Response Act. The money from this appropriation shall be distributed as follows:
A. one million six hundred thousand dollars ($1,600,000) to the bureau of rural infrastructure crisis response within the local government division of the department of finance and administration for staffing, general office expenses and contractual services for engineering and financial evaluations required by the Rural Infrastructure Crisis Response Act in fiscal years 2025 through 2028; provided that no more than four hundred thousand dollars ($400,000) shall be expended in any one fiscal year. Any unexpended or unencumbered balance remaining at the end of fiscal year 2028 shall be deposited in the rural infrastructure crisis response fund; and
B. ninety-eight million four hundred thousand dollars ($98,400,000) to the rural infrastructure crisis response fund for the purposes of the fund for expenditure in fiscal year 2025 and subsequent fiscal years. Any unencumbered or unexpended balance at the end of a given fiscal year shall not revert to the general fund.
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