Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Senate panel blocks push to lift rent control prohibition

In this file photo, Sen. Linda Lopez presides over a meeting of the Senate Rules Committee. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE — Legislators rejected a proposal Wednesday that would have opened the door to rent control in New Mexico cities and counties.

The Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee voted 6-2 against the bill after more than two hours of debate and public testimony.

Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, an Albuquerque Democrat and chairman of the committee, said New Mexico faces a real affordable housing shortage but that rent control wouldn’t necessarily help address the problem.

Investors might build in some communities and avoid others with rent-control ordinances.

“We’d have a patchwork quilt of rules and regulations around the state,” Ortiz y Pino said. “I think what we really need to do is incentivize the development of affordable housing.”

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The legislation, Senate Bill 99, was sponsored by Sen. Linda Lopez of Albuquerque and Reps. Patricia Roybal Caballero of Albuquerque and Angelica Rubio of Las Cruces, all Democrats.

It would have repeated the statewide prohibition on rent control and allowed cities and counties to take up the issue. Supporters said each community would decide for itself whether to establish limits on rent.

“This is part of a discussion we need to have and needs to continue,” Lopez said after the vote. “People are hurting.”

The bill was tabled in a bipartisan vote over the objection of Democratic Sens. Brenda McKenna of Corrales and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez of Albuquerque.

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