The bill passed the committee unanimously and is poised to pass the Senate and move to the House. Democratic leadership said that they would put the bill on a “fast-track” when they announced that the New Mexico Trial Lawyer’s Association and Virgin Galactic reached a deal on the “informed consent” idea.
“This shows that when people work together, and they have the best intentions for the state, really good solutions can come from it,” the bill’s sponsor, Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen (D – Las Cruces) adds, “I am thrilled that it got through the Judiciary Committee with a 9 – 0 vote and I really have to give credit to Virgin Galactic and the Trial Lawyers for their diligent efforts in coming to an agreement.”
The vote comes on the same day that the Associated Press reports Virgin Galactic says the state has not lived up to its end of the deal and that the company believes it still can walk away from the $1 million rent.
The AP report comes from a Virgin Galactic email from before the deal was reached between Virgin Galactic and the New Mexico Trial Lawyer’s Association.
In a Jan. 16 email to the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, Virgin Galactic said it does not believe the state has finished the work necessary to trigger activation of its $1 million annual rent obligation, and said if the work is not complete to its satisfaction by March 31, it “may either stop paying rent, pay reduced rent or give notice to terminate” its lease.
The bill is expected to easily clear both chambers and be signed by Gov. Susana Martinez.
The first rent payment is due on February 1.
The bill skipped the Senate Public Affairs Committee.