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2017 Legislative Session Presented Progress and Challenges for Environmental Policy

By May 24, 2017November 1st, 2022Legislature

2017 Legislative Session Presented Progress and Challenges for Environmental Policy

Our legislative team was in the State Capitol full time for the 60-day session, working to protect our air, land, water, health and communities and letting you know what your legislators were up to. It’s our job to shine a light on the votes and actions taken at the legislature and make sure your voice is a part of the process. Once again, we defeated each anti-conservation bill that our legislative team identified as possibly having negative impacts on our health and families. Thank you so much for all your support and activism during the legislative session! You make this work possible.

Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth thanks the Senate for their work at the end of his first 60 legislative session in his new leadership role. Photo by Liliana Castillo/CVNM

The 2017 legislative session was the first opportunity for newly elected and veteran pro-conservation legislators to join together to do what we elected them to do: create more opportunity for families and businesses, including better jobs for everyone, that foster healthy communities. We learned that while we made huge strides toward a pro-conservation majority in the legislature, we have more work to do. New Mexicans across the political spectrum support policies that protect our health by ensuring clean air, water and land, and yet that commitment is still not fully reflected in the state
Progressive champions fought for everyday New Mexicans like you and me, and bold
policies that reflect our state’s values made it further this session than they ever have
before. The Community Solar Gardens Act (HB 338/SB 342, Roybal Caballero; Lopez) that would provide communities that can’t afford solar panels or rent their homes access to clean, renewable energy, made it to the House floor. Pro-conservation champions pushed the Clean Energy Jobs Act (SB 312, Stewart/Small), a visionary
policy to increase our utility’s investment in clean, renewable energy, setting us on a path toward a diverse, sustainable and healthy economy. With your support, they also fought back attempts to privatize our water and critical public services for another year. These are just a few examples. Here are more highlights:

  • Our sister organization CVNM Education Fund’s community organizing
    programs based in Gallup, Española and Albuquerque’s Latino communities were more plugged in and engaged with their decision-makers than ever before. CVNMEF’s Albuquerque-based program Juntos championed the Community Solar Gardens bill, providing powerful community testimony in Spanish and bringing community members to the State Capitol to ask their legislators to support it. Combined with passionate and dedicated sponsors, this work carried the Community Solar Gardens Act to the House floor. For CVNM and CVNMEF, this is what success looks like in the legislative session: New Mexicans that are most impacted by environmental policy – both good and bad – directly advocating for the solutions they want to see in their communities.
  • Nearly 1,500 CVNM members and supporters signed on as co-sponsors of the Clean Energy Jobs Act, sending a strong message to our leaders that investing in strong, healthy families and communities is the path you support for achieving economic growth. While this bill (SB 312) failed to pass when Sen. Clemente Sanchez and Sen. Mary Kay Papen joined consistently anti-conservation senators on the Senate Corporations Committee to vote it down, this is just the start of a very important conversation our state needs to have. New Mexicans overwhelmingly acknowledge that our dependence on fossil fuels – both for energy and financial support – is problematic. We’ll be working to make sure our legislative leaders catch up with New Mexicans on transitioning to a clean energy economy.
  • HJR 8 to establish an Independent Ethics Commission passed the House and Senate. A strong ethical oversight body will help ensure that legislators are transparently representing the conservation values of their constituents. HJR 8 heads next to the ballot in the 2018 general election. Voters across the state like you will decide whether the state needs an independent ethics commission.
  • Rulemaking Requirements (HB 58, Gentry/L. Trujillo/T. Salazar/Ivey-Soto) passed the legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Susana Martinez. The bill provides for a uniform process across state government for how rule changes are considered while increasing opportunities for the public to participate in the rulemaking process. The legislature unanimously passed this bill which means more community input on what impacts your health, our economy, and more.
  • The Wildlife Trafficking Act (SB 81, Stewart/Chasey) passed the legislature but was pocket vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez. SB 81 would have made trafficking of animal species threatened with extinction and products made from them a crime and establishes penalties, helping to preserve endangered species and also keep money out of the hands of international criminals.
  • State Facility Renewable Energy Use (SB 227, Steinborn) passed the legislature and Gov. Martinez vetoed the bill, citing feeble excuses for preventing our state government from leading on implementing clean, renewable energy. SB 227 would have required the state government to issue Requests for Proposals (RFP) to implement renewable energy on 700 state buildings.

Call Gov. Martinez at 505-476-2200 and let her know what you think about these actions. It’s important to communicate with your decision-makers often. This is a key part of holding them accountable to representing your values.