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Rent Control Legislation Likely Dead For NM Session

Kevin Meerschaert
A crowd of supporters and opponents of rent controls in New Mexico gathered Wednesday afternoon to discuss the bill at Roundhouse.

A move to allow New Mexico municipalities and counties to implement rent controls appears dead for this legislative session.

The Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee was packed on Wednesday as both the supporters and opponents of rent control legislation spoke about the benefits and problems with such a move.

The one-sentence SB 99, would have simply repealed the state law that bans rent control. Supporters pointed out it wouldn’t establish any new laws, just let local communities decide if they wanted to implement such controls to deal with the spiraling rent costs in many parts of the state.

Opponents say the rent controls won’t address the main problem of th e lack of affordable and workforce housing.  They also say just the prospect would discourage builders from coming to New Mexico which would in the long run, make things even worse when it comes to housing. 

In the end the committee voted 7-2 to table the bill, meaning it likely won’t be brought up again during the session.   

Cosponsor Sen. Linda Lopez says she understands the committee’s action, and the need for a comprehensive housing plan, but says that won’t do anything to help those in immediate need.  

“The comments that were made by my colleagues, there needs to be a plan and such, it’s good but we are still not dealing with the issue that is affecting families today,” she said. “Building a home takes a while. You have to go through this whole process and funding. That’s still two to three years down the road and we’re still going to lose more families to this whole issue of rising rent increases. It doesn’t address the here and now.”

Lopez says while the rent control bill is likely dead for this year, it is starting a conversation at Roundhouse and communities around the state about what can be done to address the rising housing costs which she says hopefully will lead to some meaningful progress.

Kevin Meerschaert comes to Santa Fe from Jacksonville, Florida where he spent the past 20 years covering politics, government and pretty much everything else.
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