NM Democrats: Agreement Paves Way For Change To Spaceport "Informed Consent" Law

Jan 22, 2013

Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez (D) Valencia & Bernalillo, District 29, and House
Speaker Ken Martinez (D) Bernalillo, Cibola, McKinley, Socorro, San Juan, Valencia District
69, announced Tuesday that Virgin Galactic and New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association have
reached an agreement regarding proposed legislation for Spaceport America. At the urging of
Majority Leader Sanchez and Speaker Martinez, the two sides resolved their differences
regarding liability issues.

Without the legislation, proponents argued that Virgin Galactic and potential occupants of the
Spaceport would favor other states with limited-liability laws. The New Mexico Trial Lawyers
Association expressed concern that limiting liability would protect manufacturers who produced
substandard parts without fear of consequences. The Trial Lawyers advocate for consumers and
public safety.

The proposed legislation will mirror the laws of Colorado and Florida that limit the liability of
operators, manufacturers, and suppliers. An important addition is a requirement that each entity
maintain liability insurance in order to qualify under the Act.  The proposed legislation, based on the agreement, is currently being drafted.

It is expected that the bill will be introduced within the next several days. “I am very happy that we can move this issue forward and begin a clear path to getting the Spaceport up and running,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Mary Kay Papen, (D) Dona Ana, District 38, who sponsored a bill last year to limit liability. “Many people in southern New Mexico, as well as the rest of the state, are excited to see this get going."

More than $200 million has already been invested in the facility located near Truth or
Consequences. “Too much has been invested by both the state and Virgin Galactic to abandon this project,” said Majority Leader Sanchez. “The potential economic benefits for New Mexico demanded that
serious negotiations be conducted to get beyond the impasse. It is in New Mexico’s best interests
that the Spaceport project moves forward quickly, with as much consumer protection as

At the request of the two legislative leaders, representatives from Virgin Galactic and NM Trial
Lawyers Association have reached an agreement. “This agreement is the result of many months of hard work,” said Speaker Martinez. “We encouraged both parties to sit face-to-face and work through their differences. Since they each had valid points, compromise was the only solution.
“They should be proud of the work they have accomplished for New Mexico.”