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The New Mexico Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments as it weighs whether the state must compensate businesses for losses due to temporary closures and other pandemic-related restrictions.

Oral arguments were scheduled for Wednesday afternoon before the five-member court.

A coalition of businesses says pandemic restrictions have effectively seized private property from businesses that might otherwise have taken their own precautions against the spread of COVID-19. Their lawsuit characterizes the state’s public health emergency orders as regulatory taking that merits compensation to businesses.

Attorneys representing the governor’s office and state Health Department say that enforcement of public health orders derives from a long-standing principle that property rights contain an inherent limitation not to use property in a manner that endangers others.

Several businesses that sued the state for compensation separately have been provided with grants and forgivable loans by the state and federal authorities in efforts to prop up employment and the economy.

The Supreme Court case is likely to decide the fate of more than a dozen lawsuits by businesses running the gamut from a family owned amusement park in Albuquerque to an an auction house in rural Portales.

State legislators are considering proposals for further economic relief to ailing small businesses and low-wage workers that have labored through the pandemic. A 60-day legislative session is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.


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