Herrera, 112219 NMAGO, IAL 11222019

Docket Nº:IAL 11222019
Case Date:November 22, 2019
Court:New Mexico
Representative Susan K. Herrera
IAL 11222019
New Mexico Attorney General Opinion
State of New Mexico Office of The Attorney General
November 22, 2019
          Hector H. Balderas, Attorney General.          Representative Susan K. Herrera          New Mexico House of Representatives          P.O. Box 189          Embudo, N.M. 87531          Re: Opinion Request - Nonprofit Public Libraries and the Anti-donation Clause          Dear Representative Herrera:          You requested our opinion with respect to government funding for nonprofit public libraries. Specifically, you inquired whether such libraries are exempt from the provisions of Article IX, Section 14 of the New Mexico Constitution (the "Anti-donation Clause").[1] As explained below, we conclude nonprofit public libraries are not exempt from the Anti-donation Clause.          Background          As a preliminary matter, we first recognize the applicability of the recently enacted Rural Libraries Endowment Fund Act (the "Act"), NMSA 1978, Section 18-18-1 et seq. (2019), which provides a scheme for government funding to be disbursed to nonprofit public libraries. The Act establishes a rural libraries endowment fund in the state treasury to support the preservation, development and establishment of rural libraries, and provides for their operational and capital needs and funding for the delivery of specialized services to rural libraries. See NMSA 1978, Section 18-18-1. Such endowment fund consists of appropriations and donations to the fund and all income from investment of the fund. Id. The Act creates a rural libraries grant program whereby the state librarian is charged with annually disbursing money from the rural libraries program fund, in the form of grants directly benefiting developing rural libraries and established rural libraries and grants for the establishment of developing rural libraries in cities, towns and villages without libraries. See NMSA 1978, Section 18-18-2. The rural libraries program fund consists of distributions from the rural libraries endowment fund that are designated for the rural libraries grant program and appropriations, gifts, interest and other money attributed to the fund. See NMS A 1978, Section 18-18-2. Under the Act, a "rural library" includes a library that is established as a corporation with tax-exempt status pursuant to Section 501(c)(3) of the United...

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