ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The governor and Virgin Galactic's CEO leaned on lawmakers Tuesday to hurry passage of legislation to protect spacecraft manufacturers and suppliers from most lawsuits.
The bill is moving forward at the Roundhouse, but with barely 10 days left in the legislative session is it moving fast enough?
"We've already lost several opportunities for new investments and new jobs to other states that have passed this legislation," Gov. Susana Martinez said.
Martinez cited XCOR Aerospace as passing on New Mexico twice to move to Texas instead.
Martinez and Galactic CEO George Whitesides told business leaders state lawmakers need to pass a bill that protects spacecraft manufacturers and suppliers from most liability lawsuits.
"The bill costs New Mexico taxpayers not one dime," Whitesides said. "It doesn't affect the legal rights of the involved New Mexico public.
"Without the bills the spaceport will be at a competitive disadvantage to other states."
With the fate of the bill still in lawmakers' hands, tension has been growing between the state and Virgin Galactic, the anchor tenant at Spaceport America in Sierra County.
The company has refused to enter a binding lease with the state because of it...
"Our intent has always been to be the anchor tenant," Whitesides said. "I think the debate around this bill has been how do we make the spaceport as strong as it can be to attract new business."
Whitesides said the company is working with the state to bring in more companies to join them in southern New Mexico if the bill actually passes.
"We can't allow for $209 million of investments, of taxpayers dollars, to go down the drain simply because this bill won't pass," Martinez said. "I want it on my desk so I can sign it."
The House and Senate have both unanimously passed an identical bill, and now those bills have gone to the opposite chambers. It is expected that one of the versions will make it to the governor's desk.
The 60-day session of the Legislature adjourns at noon on March 16.