By Rosanne Boyett | Cibola Beacon
CIBOLA COUNTY – Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM) has released its 2013-14 Conservation Scorecard. The citizen-based organization has annually reviewed state legislators’ environmental voting records for the past decade.
Senators George Muñoz, District 4, and Clemente Sanchez, District 30, and Representatives Eliseo Alcon, District 6, and Ken Martinez, District 69, received “green” grades, meaning they supported a number of legislative actions designed to protect natural resources. CVNM identified whether they supported or opposed each bill and compared their stance with individual legislators’ votes.
Alcon and Martinez received the same rating, 86 percent, in their support of environmental protection; Sanchez came in at 56 and Munoz was rated the lowest, 50 percent.
“This is important,” said one Grants resident. “We (voters) need to pay attention to how our representatives have voted on issues that affect all New Mexico residents.”
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Muñoz and Sanchez both voted against the appointment of Ryan Flynn as Secretary of the Environment Department.
Flynn, who was nominated by Gov. Susana Martinez, received sufficient support, 30-11, from the Senate. The Governor officially announced Flynn’s appointment in May.
The CVNM monitored five categories of proposed legislation, which included 14 Senate bills and 15 House bills. The group tracked individual votes on: energy and climate change, environmental justice, water, wildlife and habitat conservation, and effective governance.
Sanchez supported seven of 14 Senate bills. He voted in favor of four proposals, including SB 163, relating to water conservation and one of the two wildlife protection bills. He opposed two proposed pieces of legislation: the Exporting Coal Study and the Transportation Public-Private Partnership.
SB 89 failed in the Senate Conservation Committee on a tied vote, according to CVNM. The proposal included piping water from the Gila River, which is the State’s last free-flowing river. Neither Sanchez nor Muñoz served on that Senate Committee.
Muñoz voted “yes” to the SB 163 amendment to eliminate the Water Quality Control Commission: the Commission is the State’s only entity responsible for setting water quality standards and the adoption of federal Clean Water Act rules. He also supported two governance bills: SB 315, city and county comprehensive planning, and HB 40, designation of benefit corporations.
Alcon voted in favor of eight of the 15 bills tracked by CVNM; one of those was in support of HM 21, which opposed listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Representative Martinez also supported eight of the Senate bills; he too opposed HM 21.
Both area Representatives voted in favor of HB 286: Oil and Gas Financial Assurance that proposed to modernize fines and penalties by aligning the 1935 State penalties with surrounding states such as Texas and Arizona.
All four area legislators voted against SB 283/HB 296, which proposed to shift the utility expansion costs for economic development, such as negotiating discounted rates for large companies, and shifting the costs to families, small businesses, and schools.
Gov. Martinez vetoed both HB 40, designation of benefit corporations, and SB 315, city and county comprehensive planning guidelines.
“The Scorecard reveals the behind-the-scenes stories of what happens during legislative sessions,” explained Demis Foster, CVNM executive director. “During the [last] session I was asked by legislators time and time again, ‘How will this affect my CVNM score?’ Decision-makers pay attention because they know that CVNM and New Mexico Voters are keeping track.”
Visit www.CVNM.org for more information.
By Rosanne Boyett | Cibola Beacon