New Mexico liability law dead for this year

An effort to update a law to extend liability indemnification to commercial spaceflight suppliers is dead for this year in New Mexico. The state legislature adjourned Thursday without taking up the proposed bill, which had stalled out in both the state House and Senate because of opposition from trial lawyers. A late push, including letters from Gov. Susana Martinez and support in the local media, such as this Albuquerque Journal editorial on Wednesday, weren’t enough to sway legislators.

New Mexico Spaceport Authority executive director Christine Anderson was in Washington, DC, on Thursday, participating on a panel about various state spaceport efforts at the FAA’s 15th Annual FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference. She confirmed after the panel that the proposed legislation was dead this year, but that they would try to reintroduce it next year. She also expressed interest in getting that liability protection into federal law in some manner.

The spaceport’s anchor tenant, Virgin Galactic, has similar goals. “We’re very hopeful that next year we can be successful in the New Mexico Legislature to get some of the provisions that we’re trying to get in New Mexico in place,” said Jon Turnipseed, head of safety for Virgin Galactic, during a panel on legislative issues at the FAA conference Thursday. “Obviously, it would be brilliant if we could get some type of a national” law to address this issue, he added.

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