(SANTA FE, NM) — Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM) advocated for or against 89 bills at the Roundhouse during the 2015 New Mexico legislative session. CVNM and our allies successfully defeated 100% of the anti-conservation bills that attacked common-sense laws that protect our families and communities for the 11th year in a row.

CVNM and our allies in the Environmental Alliance of New Mexico joined together to successfully pass an eight-year extension of the solar development tax credit. SB 391, sponsored by Sen. Stewart is critical to advancing development of solar energy in our state. This tax credit has proven to be successful, assisting the booming local industry to grow 73% from 2012 to 2013, for a total of 1,900 solar jobs in New Mexico. Solar energy reduces air and water pollution, improves public health and creates jobs.

“Polluting industries and corporate special interests saw the House take over by anti-conservation leadership as their best chance in years for passing an agenda that prioritizes their profits over the people of this state. New Mexicans want jobs that support healthy communities,” said Victor Reyes, CVNM Legislative Director. “We couldn’t have beaten back each attack without our conservation champions in both chambers who stood strong against anti-conservation legislation that is dangerous for our state.”

There were many attacks on New Mexico’s air, land and water this session. These fights were buried under some of the more visible battles happening in the legislature.

Of note, there was a disturbing trend of legislation that attempted to give Gov. Martinez and her administration absolute authority over issues that affect the health of New Mexicans and wildlife. Each of these measures were defeated. This trend included the following measures:

  • A five-bill push to take away, or pre-empt, the ability of cities and counties to protect the health and safety of their communities from extractive industries. The five pieces of legislation are SB 184 (Sen. Sharer), SB 421 (Sen. Ingle), SB 601 (Sen. Griggs), HB 199 (Rep. Bandy) and HB 366 (Rep. Gentry). HB 366 made it the farthest through the legislative process by passing the House of Representatives, but a big display of opposition from conservation and environmental organizations, including CVNM, county governments and citizens to the Senate bills in the Senate Conservation Committee ended the push for this session.
  • HB 291 & SB 483 (Rep. Herrell and Sen. Sharer, respectively) attempted to transfer control of federal public lands to state control, despite a recent bipartisan poll finding that a majority of New Mexicans oppose the idea. CVNM joined citizens, leaders from tribal and pueblo governments, sportsman, conservation and environmental organizations opposed the measures.
  • HM 66 (Rep. Baldonado), HM 99 (Rep. Nuñez), HM 74 (Rep. Roch), HM 114 (Rep. Gomez) and HM 117 (Rep. Nuñez) each attempted to weaken protections for critical wildlife populations in New Mexico, including the Mexican gray wolf, Lesser Prairie Chicken, elk and cougars.

Other egregious environmental bills that were defeated attempted to:

  • Place critical public services, including water, in private hands (HB 299, Rep. Larrañaga) by enabling public-private partnerships or P3s statewide. P3s require a narrow, prudent approach that will provide opportunities for public benefit without posing substantial financial, social or environmental risks – and HB 299 didn’t come close.
  • Freeze renewable energy development by removing the requirement that utilities generate 20% of electricity by renewable energy by 2020 (HB 445, Rep. Scott). Eliminating future requirements — or legislatively slashing funding — would kill future renewable-energy development and the jobs, clean air and long-term savings and security that come with it.
  • Force New Mexicans to show photo identification when voting (HB 340, Rep. Brown). Voter ID has proven to be a barrier to voting. Voter ID especially impacts minority and elderly voters who are often most disproportionately impacted by the effects of pollution and environmental injustice. With record-breaking low voter turnout occurring in New Mexico, we need to be making it easier to vote rather than more difficult. Ensuring that every citizen’s voice is heard is crucial for the sake of our air, land and water.
  • Gut protections for water and communities in New Mexico’s Mining Act, including a provision that would have allowed unlimited expansion of some mines (HB 625, Rep. Zimmerman). The bill attempted to change the New Mexico State Mining Act to permit mines that could pollute the state’s scarce ground and surface water for thousands of years, and would also leave New Mexico taxpayers liable for hundreds of millions of dollars in mining pollution cleanup, among other industry-friendly changes.

CVNM’s Legislative Priorities include issues such as air quality, water, energy and climate change, effective government, environmental justice, wildlife and habitat conservation. The outcome of each measure on our agenda is attached and can be found on CVNM’s website at www.CVNM.org. We will update this page to reflect action by the Governor.

CVNM’s Legislative Priorities form the basis of our Conservation Scorecard, published after each legislative session. The Scorecard provides objective, non-partisan information about the conservation voting records of all members of the legislature.

CVNM is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that is connecting the people of New Mexico to their political power to protect our air, land, and water for a healthy Land of Enchantment. We do this by mobilizing voters, helping candidates win elections, holding elected officials accountable and advancing responsible public policies.

Contact: Liliana Castillo, 505-992-8683 or liliana@cvnm.org.

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