A look at Chamber advocacy

Jan 10th, 2014

2013 started out with a bang, saw a few challenges

The area designated by the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument proposal.This map shows the protection of the Organ Mountains as proposed by Congressman Steve Pearce.The change in direction of the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce to be­come a more advocacy-centric organization has been chronicled many times during 2013. As the year has drawn to a close, it is important to take a look back and review the topics that were tackled.

The year started with a bang as the Chamber saw its efforts come to frui­tion with the unanimous passage of the expanded informed consent legis­lation designed to allow Spaceport America to compete on an even play­ing field with other like entities around the coun­try. Virgin Galactic also benefited from this new legislation as their suppliers will not face over burdensome liability issues.

In support of White Sands Missile
Range, the Chamber came out in opposition to the proposed route of the SunZia trans­mission line. The Chamber feels that this route jeopardizes WSMR’s mission and as a result the safety of our country and the economy of Doña Ana County. Original studies touted the financial ben­efi t of this project, show­ing that more than 30,000 jobs would be created. That number has since been re­duced to around 3,000 – the vast majority of which are short-term, construc­tion- related positions. This is not a gamble that the Chamber is willing to take. The Chamber has been in favor of protect­ing the Organ Mountains for many years, but is in opposition to the almost 500,000-acre Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument proposal, citing border security, continued grazing for ranchers and water management and flood control as reasons. Protecting the Organs, in a fashion similar to what is in Congressman Steve Pearce’s bill, combined with the land currently designated as Wilderness Study totals almost 300,000 acres.

The Chamber came out in opposition to the proposed minimum wage increase, instead taking the position that the open market should dictate wage rates. Several business owners have discussed how such an increase would impact their businesses – the results range from increasing prices on products and services to laying off work­ers. Area seniors, who are on fixed incomes, would be hit hardest by such price increases.

As of Friday, Jan. 10, there are nearly 500 jobs available, or planned to be available, in the first quarter of 2014 in Las Cruces that
pay more than the proposed hourly rate, all with benefits. Work force development efforts would be a better use of resources in this case.

The Chamber tackled various ordinance changes such as impact fees, including parks, roads and drainage, as well as the alarm or­dinance, with varying degrees of positive outcomes.