Senator Tim Keller (SD-17) Takes on Big Legislative Agenda.
Senator Tim Keller (D-Albuquerque) is commited to adressing key issues and tackling the state's urgent problems. Tim has introduced 100 pieces of legislation to address topics ranging from higher education reform to small business development. He has been successful in passing 30 bills pertaining to the following issues:
  • Local Job Creation (through in-state preferences in government contracts)
  • Sweeping Reform of the State Investment Council (SIC)
  • 40% Solar Tax Credit
  • Solar Panels for Higher Education
  • Community Schools Initiative
  • Local Food Procurement
  • Career Tech Stamps on High School Diplomas
  • District 17 (East Central and Albuquerque'sInternational District) Revitalization 
  • Payroll fraud enforcement
  • Ethics, transperency, oversight, and accountability in state government 
  • Economic Development Incentive Reform
  • Adaptive Handicap Driving Program
  • PRC Reform
Scroll down for an overview of Senator Keller's Legislative Agendas as well as a full list of the bills Tim has passed and introduced.

2014 Agenda

Economic Development

Performance Contracting: This bill will enable performance contracting so that state contractors, for example construction companies, can share in the savings they create. An example of this includes retrofitting public buildings for energy efficiency.

SB 47 Post Performance Incentives (Utah Bill): Tax rebate for up to 50% of new state revenues (sales, corporate and withholding taxes paid to the state) over the life of the project (typically 5-10 years).  It is available to economic base companies seeking relocation and expansion of operations and has robust claw back, impact, accountability and transparency provisions.

SB 51 Increase Working Families tax credit: The working families tax credit is one of the most successful (with respect to measured ROI and impact and usage) in the state.  Various studies have shown that more than any other state tax program this incentive, and its increase, will provide economic stimulus to our state. This bill's cost is offset by the closing of capital gains loop holes categorized by LFC as "having no material impact" on the economy or jobs. The bill is revenue neutral.

SJR 4 Prudent Investment Standard: Will enable our state permanent funds to establish portfolio allocation based on the prudent investor rule instead of the pre-subscribed percentages in our state constitution. It will modernize state investments and enable more stable and diversified investments.

SB 36 Reverse Brain Drain Bill: Creates a structure for companies to receive a tax credit for hiring NM University graduates to full time positions that include benefits. This will incent both on time graduation and retention of our best and brightest by NM firms (reverse the brain drain).  Funding for this program will be offset by the reduction in demand for lottery funds for students taking additional years to graduate due to lack of jobs.

HB 30 Renewable Fuel Rates: Standardizes measures for natural gas and other alternative energy sources to energy equivalence. Currently, because these measures are not standardized compressed, natural gas is taxed at a higher rate than gasoline despite legislative intent to make all fuels taxed the same, based on equivalency factor.

SB 60 University Endowment Investment in Tech Transfer: Enabling universities to invest funds in research and development and/or endowments to invest in their own R&D and/or be used for SBIR/federal matching dolllars, proof of concept and commercialization efforts

SB 59 GRT relief for commercialization start ups: establishes 3 years of tax free equipment and lab purchases for start up firms relating to the commercialization and proof of concept for entities using licensed technology from the labs, university or bases in NM.  This is accomplished by the issuance of  NTTC (non taxable transaction certificate) for associated purchases



Government Reform

SB 24 NMFA Governance Restructuring: clarifying  board designees, Ensuring bi partisanship representation, Establishing a board member orientation program, Requiring designees to have ten years of finance or banking experience, requiring public disclosure of quarterly audits and financials, Making the chairman elected by the board, rather than appointed by a Governor, Ensuring no appointed board member has professional or personal financial interests in NMFA projects, Staggering the terms of appointments to ensure continuity, Banning campaign contributions and lobbying for appointed board members while they are serving, Diversifying the appointments to enable other areas of government to be represented (State Treasurer, Legislature, etc), Attendance requirements

SB 29 Exemptions to Deductions: Currently all GRT deductions are listed by entities, but the specific deduction is not required to be disclosed.  As a result, our state has little means of discerning how much each type of deduction is worth to the state and the business.  With over $1b in annual deductions this lack of transparency significantly hurts budget planning and creates an incentive for tax fraud.

SJR 5 Tax Expenditure Budget CA: Requires tracking of all revenue foregone by various tax expenditures, deductions and incentives.  It also would track the benefits associated with each policy to the economy (jobs created, businesses grown, etc.).  This is used in 42 other states in one form or another.  With this in place we will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of our tax policy and economic incentives.  LFC estimates we have at least $1.3 billion in total exemptions, incentives and tax expenditures.  As a bill this has passed, in a bi-partisan manner and unanimously, three times and has been vetoed just as many times by two governors. With this measure, the voters bypass power politics and decide.

Capital Outlay Reform: standardizing and establishing preapproval process for “pork” spending to ensure projects are fully funded and vetted against various capital improvement plans (multiple bills, but multiple sponsors on this)

Capping fees that can be charged for disclosure of Homeowner Association Documents: This is some clean-up language relating to the state's first HOA Act passed last year to clamp down on the abuse of fees, sometimes in the hundreds that are being charged for document compiling for realtors.

Ethics Commission CA: Our state has long attempted an ethics commission only to be mired in legislative wrangling, this bill would send the issue to the voters who would decide if we should have this critical oversight componant to our state government

HB 42 Land Grant reporting: enables the annual filing and public record identification for annual reports and financial records of Land Grants. This bill was endorsed as part of the Land Grant oversight committees work to bring fiscal accountability to the Land Grants Merced


Health Care

SB 50 Health Contracting Procurement Loophole Closing: Require all health contracts to have to go through an open competitive bid process and the usage of the New Mexico In-State preference to support local organizations and retain jobs in our state; permits only a narrow three month or less non-reoccurring exemption for emergencies.

SJR 7 NM Health Care Cost and Transparency Board: Enables non-partisan and expertise based accountability and transparency in our state’s healthcare system through the creation of an oversight body to ensure and monitor that all our state's hundreds of millions of healthcare dollars are spent in the most cost effective and impactful manner.

SB 52 Brain Injury Insurance Coverage: Would outline rules and regulations for the coverage of brain injury related treatment by insurance companies.  Currently,  policies and coverage’s vary from company to company and many non categorized brain injuries are not covered in standard policies. This bill models TX legislation and best practices.

SJM5 DD Waiver Oversight Council: This joint memorial would establish a council consisting of all stakeholders to oversee the DD waiver program in our state. Currently, the program has no formal oversight body and is lacking input mechanism for the public and for individuals with disabilities.

SB 48 Health Impact Assessments: Establishes the health impact assessment program at the Department of Environment to provide reports on the impact that certain legislation would have on “community health.”  Requires health assessments by county to provide benchmarking data.



SB 34 Clarifying Standardize Testing (SBAs) Usage: Currently, there is ambiguity around how testing can impact graduation, school, teachers, students and other measures.  This bill would clarify the rules of the game for standardized testing. It does not restrict in the ability for testing to be used for accountability, but rather defines how and when the tests can be used for GPA’s.

Education Commission and Charter Schools: Will establish that charter schools are governed by the Public Education Commission. Currently, there is conflicting governance by the executive branch and the elected Public Education Commission. This bill would restore the Education Commission’s original role with respect to charter school oversight.




HB 25 Water Resource Institute: Provides funding for NMSU's water research institute to enable the creation of a regional, leading academic and policy center for water use in our state.

Origin of Water/Headwaters Transfer Transparency: Will outline the types of analysis and disclosure (such as use, amount and duration) of inter basin water transfers and establish public legislative oversight (similar to the way NM does bonding) for larger transfers.

Beaver management program: Ask relevant state agencies to develop a comprehensive beaver management program. Because it is little understood by the public, beaver management is a critical piece to our water management system, steam flow and related timber and agriculture efforts.



Art Auction Accountability: Outlines a framework for the types of auctions and requirements for quality control and fraud protections for art auctions. This bill is especially important given the New Mexico (and Santa Fe) multi-million dollar art related economy that currently is open to possible manipulation.




In the upcoming legislative session, Senator Keller plans to introduce a several pieces of legislation targeted at economic development, job creation and government reform. This includes the following bills:

2012 Economic Development and Job Creation Bills

SB 15: Capital Investments Tax Credit makes NM more tax competitive, stimulates infrastructure for big and small businesses, and dilutes pryamiding and stimulate infrastructure for big and small businesses. This bill will create a tax credit for all capital expenditures that can be used to defer state gross receipts tax (GRT) payments until debts are repaid or 5 years have passed. In effect, this bill would establish a tax-free loan (via the tax credit) for capital expenditures. It would also align the timing of capital expenditure tax liability withthe  incremental revenue associated with the investment.

SB 68: Jobs Tax Increment Credit provides economic base companies with a post-performance refundable tax credit for up to 50% of new state revenues (sales, corporate and withholding taxes paid to the state) over the life of the project (typically 5-10 years).

SB 16State Graduate Employment Incentive creates a structure for companies to receive a tax credit for hiring NM University graduates to full time positions that include benefits. This will incent on-time graduation and the retention of our best and brightest students by NM firms. Funding for this program will be offset by the reduction in demand for lottery scholarship funds by students who take additional years to graduate due to the lack of available, local jobs. 

SB 21: Energy Technology Higher Education Endowment invests in the intellectual infrastructure of our higher education system by gradually intercepting funds headed to the permanent fund. Over time, the fund will endow 30 chairmanships and support research and curriculum development to enable NM to become a national leader in energy technology. 

SJM 4: Centennial Planning Task Force establishes an inter-governmental planning initiative to create a vision for NM for the next 100 years. The task force will consider state assets including energy, tourism, the arts, water, technology, genetic research and more. The aim is to develop a comprehensive plan that will integrate the work of agenicies and communities to improve our State's future.

SB 28: Finance NM Small Businesses increases the SIC Private Equity Investment Program (PEIP) to 10% (from 9%), and the Small Business Investment Corporation doubled to 2% (from 1%). This will add approximately $10-40 million in new monies for NM businesses. The funds are currently used specifically for financing NM small businesses. The estimated incremental funds available from this bill would be 4 to 12 million depending on matching and leveraged funds.. The bill also contains a "use it or lose it" clause that would return unused money to the general fund.

HB 34: Red Tape Reduction/Rule Making Regulatory Reform standardizes procedures such as public comment periods, appeal methods, fee structures, response requirements and others. NM is the last state in our country that does not standardize these procedures. As a result, any executive agency can change or alter licensing and permitting processes as often as they like. The result is that the "rules of the game" are different for nearly every entity that interacts with the state government.   

2012 Government Reform Bills

SJM 5: Interim Government Reform Committee establishes an interim Committee to examine challenges in government operations, conflicts of interest, inefficiencies and overlapping mandates.

SB 77: Redesign the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) creates a new process - similar to the existing Judicial Standards Committee - to appoint PRC Commissioners. In addition, this bill establishes education and experience requirements for Commissioners and limits terms to one, five-year term. The bill also bans personal contracts with regulated entities and lobbying for 3 years post-services and requires that superintendents for each of the four PRC divisions be confirmed by the Senate. 

SB 4: Expo NM/State Fair Governance restructures the management of Expo NM such that the Director be hired by the Commission and confirmed by the Senate. The bill also requires the Commission to take public comment at every meeting, comply with the procurement code and post on the sunshine portal. It further bans campaign contributions from long-term leasers with leases greater than $1 million and requires the Director of the State Fair to report twice a year to the Legislature (once on general operations and once on performance). 

SM 2: Kirtland Gas Leak Clean Up asks the state, city, county and U.S. Department of Defense (through Kirtland Air Force Base) to expedite the clean up of the billions of gallons of jet fuel that have leaked into the ground in Albuquerque's South East Heights.

SB 69: Expo NM/Fairgrounds Investment enables the use of tax increment financing, enterprise zones, New Mexico Finance Authority (NMFA) products, IRBs and other investment instruments to bring needed funds to the fairgrounds.

2012 Higher Education, Drugs, Housing and Election Reform

SJM 3: Creation of an Interim Higher Education Committee convenes Legislators to study and recommend legislation regarding the funding, operation and effectiveness of our state-funded colleges and universities

SB 70: Foreclosure Property Maintenance requires cities to establish rules for owners of foreclosed properties to maintain a base level of property maintenance. Similar to the current ordinance in Rio Rancho, this bill is designed to deter foreclosures and help cities and neighborhoods retain property value and decrease blight.

SB 21: Energy Technology Higher Education Endowment invests in the intellectual infrastructure of our higher ed systems by gradually intercepting funds headed to the permanent fund. Over time, the fund will endow 30 chairmanships at NM universities and support research and curriculum development that enables our state to become a national leader in energy technology. 

SB Voter Registration Modernization allows individuals to use a confidential pin code to register to vote online. This modernization effort is particular critical for young voters and military personnel who come and go from new Mexico. It will greatly enhance access to democracy and the accuracy of our state voter files.

SB: Funding for Teenage Heroin Treatment creates 10 dedicated beds for teenage heroin treatment through the Turquoise Lodge program in Albuquerque


Economic Development and Job Creation Bills Passed

SB 44 Film Incentive Accountability requires impact reporting on metrics such as return on investment, jobs created and others for the state's $75 million film program.  This bill allows policy makers to properly evaluate the film program and determine whether to reduce, increase or maintain the elements of the program.

SB 47 Tax Expenditure Budget requires tracking of all revenue foregone by various tax expenditures, deductions and incentives.  This bill bill also require tracking of the benefits associated with each tax policy to the economy in terms of jobs created, businesses grown and other metrics. The Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) estimates that we currently have at least $2 billion in total exemptions, incentives and tax expenditures. With this tracking in place we will be able to evaluate the effectivenss of current tax policy and economic incentives.  

SB 19/1 In-State Business Preference establishes an effective preference for local NM businesses in state government purchasing. This bill retains the existing 5% preference but expands it to apply to all types of contracts and businesses, from agriculture to information technology and professional services to construction. It also eliminates 20 pages of current exemptions.

SB 63 Local Food Purchase Requirement increases local purchasing requirements for state agencies over time to ensure that our state supports the local agricultureal economy.  This bill will gradually phase in local purchasing requirements for food, starting with a mandate that 2% of all state food purchases be local in 2012 and gradually increasing to 10% by 2016.  The bill keeps purchasing specifications broad to allow each agency to determine the best method for implementation. However, this bill does not allow any agencies an exemption from the purchasing requirements.

·         HB64 Construction Litigation (Senate Sponsor): (Senate Sponsor): requires that all construction related litigation for projects on New Mexico soil be litigated in New Mexico

Energy Bills Passed

SB 237 Renewable Financing includes educational institutions in the Bonding Act so that schools can include renewable projects in their bonding efforts.  The bill also extends the length of a bond term from 10 to 25 years for certain projects under the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Bonding Act.

SB 257 (2009) Solar Tax Credit creates a 40% solar tax credit for residential solar panels.

Accountability and Oversight Bills Passed

SB 47 (2010) Economic Incentive Accountability requires economic impact reporting, local hiring and claw back provisions be applied to the $700 million worth of economic incentives provided by the state. This bill builds on best practices used in Albuquerque and other states to increase accountability. 

SB 187 Program Evaluation and Accountability creates an office of accountability within the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) and enables the LFC to receive and protect confidential information necessary for its oversight functions. This bill builds on recommendations from the Legislative Structure and Process Study Task Force. In 2009, it passed the Senate 41-0 and the House 67-0 under Senator Keller's leadership but was pocket-vetoed by the Governor. 

Education Bills Passed

HB 34 Diploma 'career tech' stamp enables a special stamp on high school diplomas to indicate various technical certifications or training.  Similar to a "major" in college, this stamp would create a verifiable job training document for high schoolers pursuing further training or careers in a field they have studied in high school.


SB 226 (2009) Community Schools creates an insurance umbrella to enable all community uses for public schools such that liability would not be borne by the school, district or individual.

Investment Fund Reform and Ethics Bills Passed

SB 17/64 State Investment Council Changes: removes the Governor as the chair of the State Investment Council (SIC). NM is the only state in the country with a Governor personally residing on the state's investment fund board and directly responsible for investment decision.  SB 18 in 2010 attempted this but was amended at late stages in the legislative process to keep the Governor on the SIC board.  This bill removes the Governors seat entirely.  Executive branch power and representation would remain via several executive appointed seats and representation of the DFA secretary.  

SB 25 Economic Targeted Investment Oversight: the SIC will establish a formal structure and performance metrics for all the ETIs (NM private equity, film fund, etc) to be reviewed separately by a state investment council (SIC) subcommittee.  Performance tracking would also be separated so that co-mingling of ETIs with our “endowment” funding will not occur.  The subcommittee will also recommend a confidentiality process that ensures information is protected and results are identifiable. The bill also eliminates the current statutory ineffective Private Investment Advisory committee (PIAC) structure.

SB 18 (2010): State Investment Council Reform: The rationale for this bill is to apply the “agency theory” to the governance of investment funds.  The agency theory is when an agent acts on behalf of a principal in order to advance the goals of the principal.  The agency theory is a way to separate ownership from control.  Applying this theory to investment bodies will create a strong, stable, and capable committee structure that will improve quality and accountability.  This will improve and protect objectivity and independence in investments, foster greater public confidence, establish structural and institutional confidence, and promote honest and ethical conduct.

·         HRJ 17 PRC Reform – Restructuring the Insurance Division (Senate Sponsor): constitutional amendment to enable the legislature to remove and or restructure state insurance division activities

District 17-Specific Bills Passed

SM 20: State Fair Task Force: convenes a task force to look at long term uses of the fairgrounds, and requires community input and a public competitive request-for-proposals (RFP) process.

SM 1 Asian American Center: Requests that the State Fair Commission and Expo New Mexico meet with all interested parties in the effort to establish and maintain an Asian American Center for cultural programming at Expo New Mexico.  Due to the size of the Asian community and it's rich and varied traditions in New Mexico it is reasoned that a facility similar to the Indian Village, Villa Hispana, and African American Pavilion should be considered.  It is also noted that an Asian American Center will generate interest and bring visitors to Expo New Mexico year round

Capital Outlay provides $5 million in funding to clean up the State Fair Grounds, $1 million for our local schools, and $1 million for early childhood care and healthcare in our district.

SJM 24 (2009) Recognizing Albuquerque’s International District: rebrands the area formerly known as "the warzone" in an effort to help bring a new positive identity to the area.  The new name emerged from a seven year revitalization effort and a series of community town halls. The old term was seen as racist and derogatory, and bad for business and property value. The bill also passed at the county and city levels.

Feb 23: International District Day

Fed 23: Asian American Day

Health, Disabilities and Childrens Bills Passed


HJM 16 Mental and Behavior Disability Awareness: honors persons with disabilities and their families, advocates and providers who enrich NM culture and contribute to the continuing improvement of the quality of life in NM. 

SB 232 (2009) Adaptive Driving Program
: establishes liability coverage to enable the adaptive driving program for the physically disabled.

SB 299 (2009) Safe Exchange:
establishes protocols for the safe exchange of children under split care from parents and the state.


Tax and Budget Bills Introduced

SB 39 GRT Deductions Disclosure requires gross receipts tax (GRT) deductions to be listed by entity and amount. This bill will allow greater transparency with regards to the more than $1 billion in annual deductions and enhance budget planning. 

SB 684 (2009) Oil and Gas Hedging permits the State Board of Finance (BOF) to enter into commodity hedging contracts in order to establish a desired level of predictability and reduced volatility of tax receipts within the Severance Tax Bonding Fund (STBF). Such contracts would have to be in the best interests of the state, address information asymmetry and result in a more stable revenue stream for the state. 

SB 22 (2010) Biannual Budgeting streamlines the state budgeting process by allowing rolling, two-year budgets.  

SB 63 (1010) Create Statewide Strategic Planning Commission

Economic Development and Job Creation Bills Introduced

SB 30 Regulatory Reform-Uniform Rule Making Procedures standardizes procedures such as public comment periods, appeal methods, fee structures, response requirements and others. NM is the last state in our country that does not standardize these procedures. As a result, any executive agency can change or alter licensing and permitting processes as often as they like. The result is that the "rules of the game" are different for nearly every entity that interacts with the state government.

SM 3 Workforce Tracking (2010) calls for a collaborative effort between the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions and the New Mexico Economic Development Department to identify, project and track the future workforce needs of New Mexico businesses and government.  The memorial calls for the Departments to engage in joint long-range planning as a benefit to the state.

SM 4 (2010) Biannual Business Expo recognizes the need for continued job growth and development throughout the state.  This business expo will allow businesses to showcase their important services and products and to connect with others with similar interests in promoting strong statewide business expansion opportunities.

SB 175 (2009): Native New Mexican Returnee Job Investment Tax Credit

SB 26 Access to Capital: provides hundreds of millions of dollars in needed financing for disadvantaged populations in New Mexico. This bill creates a vehicle for tribes to access capital and funds for larger scale projects. It also establishes a real return investment vehicle for private entities wishing to invest in New Mexico and keep dollars filtering through our state's economy.

HB 66 (2010) State Funds in community Banksrequires STO, DFA, and representatives of both the State Investment Council (SIC) and State Board of Finance (BOF) to study the feasibility of dividing the general fund operating cash depository account between community banks and credit unions in order to ensure that state money benefits New Mexico residents. The results of such a study will then be reported to LFC and the Governor by December 1, 2010.

SB 15 (2010) Allow electronic documents at the PRC

Accountability and Oversight Bills Introduced

SB 18 Investment Fraud Accountability gives the Attorney General investigative authority for securities fraud.  Currently the authority rests with in the executive branch (inside the licensing and regulations department) creating a structural conflict of interest.  This bill also broadens the threshold for prosecution of fraud.  This will enable us to recover our percentage of the estimated $1.3 billion currently under lawsuit around the country.

SB 75 Non Franchise Auto Dealer Continuing Education: requires independent auto dealers to take a half day training every 2 years as a mechanism for consumer protection.This bill is endorsed and supported by the independent auto industry association.