29 new state laws go into effect

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Tougher penalties for corrupt public officials and a tax break for businesses that hire veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are among 29 new state laws that went into effect on Wednesday, May 16.

Under the new public corruption law, judges in a criminal court will be able to fine elected officials – or those appointed to an elective seat – an amount up to their total salary and accrued pension benefits upon conviction of felony corruption charges.

Though previous attempts at similar legislation had fallen flat, the law passed with no dissent in the New Mexico House or Senate during this year’s legislative session.

The new tax break New Mexico businesses can receive for hiring veterans was one of several tax credits approved by the Legislature this year.

It will allow employers to file for a one-time tax break of up to $1,000 for each qualifying veteran hired as a full-time worker. The tax credit, which is slated to expire in 2017, was touted Wednesday by Gov. Susana Martinez.

“This tax credit will help to ensure that our veterans do not end up in the unemployment line and I hope that all New Mexico businesses strongly consider taking advantage of this important legislation,” Martinez said in a statement.

Other legislation taking effect Wednesday included: a retooled – and open-ended – uranium tax exemption; a measure allowing the director of the Department of Game and Fish to refund license fees for hunts canceled by forest fires; and a $1 million appropriation to the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center for lung cancer research.

Other new laws adopted this year took effect immediately or will go on the books on July 1, which is the start of the state’s budget year.

The Legislature passed just 77 bills this year, the fewest for a 30-day session since 1976. Martinez signed 64 of those bills into law and vetoed the rest.

Editor’s Note: This article appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on May 17, 2012