Recently, even in this climate of political discord in Washington, the federal statute was extended by BOTH the House and Senate through 2015, with bipartisan and bicameral support from a majority of New Mexico’s Congressional delegation. Just this week, President Obama signed this vital extension into law. Washington, remarkably, has done its job here. Why can’t Santa Fe?

Texas, Virginia and Florida already have this language in their statutes and are in sync with the federal law. Colorado’s legislature is expected to approve the legislation by May. In essence, recognizing the future growth and potential the commercial space flight industry offers, they acted and removed their state loophole laws. It was imperative that this law be passed in New Mexico to continue the expansion of commercial space travel here in our great state.
The Expand Space Flight Informed Consent Act, introduced for the recent session of the New Mexico State legislature (as Senate Bill 3 and House Bill 239), sought to put New Mexico on the same footing with the other states and the federal government. It was going to establish important footholds for our state’s economic future. The legislation did not cost taxpayers a dime. Tragically, the legislation was killed by a well-organized lobbying effort. New Mexico now stands to lose thousands of potential jobs, as well as the investments made in Spaceport America.
SB3 and HB239 sought to create the option for passengers to sign a consent agreement. Simply, this legislation was supporting New Mexico’s future in the commercial space industry by preventing frivolous lawsuits from circumventing the wishes of potential spaceflight passengers and using our courts to do so.
At Spaceport America’s groundbreaking ceremony in October, I spoke to the gathered guests that “in our weariness, in our economic turmoil, in our concerns for tomorrow, the world is looking for a vision.” The vision I was speaking of is the new vision and the new adventure for New Mexico, through commercial space flight. The potential for our community is huge, and the future is at hand; however, in order to achieve that potential, there are important steps that must be taken by New Mexico. Without action, New Mexico’s vision for adventure will be realized by other states, leaving the Zia state in the dust.
It is time for New Mexico to choose jobs over politics; it is time to close this loophole. It is time for fellow New Mexicans to stand side by side with their elected officials in Santa Fe and tell special interests to stop their influence peddling. It is time for New Mexicans to stand together and fight for the future for our great state. We stand on the brink of a new, exciting and prosperous adventure. Let New Mexico continue to lead this industry.

Rep. Pearce (R-N.M.) is a member of the House Financial Services Committee.