New Mexico Democrats seek out jobs in hemp, new minimum wage

FILE - In this Oct. 5, 2013 file photo, a volunteer walks through a hemp field at a farm in Springfield, Colo.One of Oregon’s first hemp farmers says a lack of seed is making it tough to get going. Josephine County Commissioner Cheryl Walker says that fertile seed is expensive and hard to come by, because the federal government prohibits imports. Harvesting machinery is expensive, and there is no plant in Oregon to process the plants into fiber, seed and oil. (AP Photo/P. Solomon Banda)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – Democrats in the New Mexico Legislature say they want to create new jobs and boost the economy by allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp, raising the state minimum wage and adding local preferences to economic development incentives.

Sen. Clemente Sanchez of Grants on Thursday announced the Democrats’ six-point plan to boost employment that includes investments in broadband internet infrastructure. He says other economic solutions are contained in next year’s $63 million capital outlay plan, the smallest allocation in years.

New Mexico’s 6.6 percent unemployment rate is the second highest in the nation, and the state’s overall economy output shrank during the fiscal year ending in June 2016.

House and Senate Democrats are backing several bills that would increase the statewide minimum wage to as high as $10.10 by 2020.