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Sunshine laws: Republicans and Democrats alike voted Thursday to back a bill that would reinstate New Mexico’s tax credit for installing rooftop solar panels.

The incentive expired in 2016. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed a bill in 2015 that would have extended the tax credit.

Backers argue the state’s support for small scale solar energy systems for homes, businesses and ranches is more important than ever as the federal government slaps tariffs on imported solar panels.

“The loss of the tax credit on top of the tariffs would definitely either continue to shrink our company or make us struggle to survive,” Regina Wheeler, CEO of the company Sun Power, told the Senate Conservation Committee.

Under Sen. Mimi Stewart’s Senate Bill 79, homes and businesses could claim a 10 percent credit for solar systems installed through 2020. The credit would shrink by 1 percentage point every two years starting in 2021.

The measure cleared the committee without opposition. But it still has two more committee assignments before it can get a vote on the Senate floor.

Last year’s news: Gov. Susana Martinez will get another day in court to argue why 10 bills she vetoed last year should not become law.

The state Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments in the Legislature’s lawsuit against the governor for April 25.

Democratic legislators filed a lawsuit last year after Martinez nixed the 10 noncontroversial bills seemingly at random and without immediate explanation during the 2017 session.

The state constitution says that if the governor does not approve of a bill by the Legislature, the governor has three days to send it back to lawmakers with her objections. Legislators say Martinez’s vetoes are void because the governor did not explain her objections.

Instead, the vetoes came down amid a particularly acrimonious period. A state District Court has sided with the Legislature, but Martinez appealed, and the state Supreme Court agreed to stop the bills from becoming law while they consider her case.

The bills in dispute all cleared the Legislature with little or no opposition. They include some proposals that were widely popular,
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such as a measure allowing students to get science credits for taking computer classes and another measure allowing for research of industrial hemp production. Others among the 10 bills are downright boring, such as a change in policy for county treasurers.

Quote of the day: “This is actually a ticking time bomb.” Sen. Carroll Leavell, R Jal, describing a brine well near Carlsbad that is at risk of collapse and potentially swallowing two state highways, railroad track, gas stations, homes and an elementary school. Leavell has sponsored a slate of bills to pay for shoring up the well, mostly by taking money from various other funds already designated for environmental projects and tapped in recent years to prop up the state budget. The Senate Conservation Committee tabled those bills Thursday morning.

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Vigil Coppler