Do you know how your legislators voted on critical legislation that impacts your air, land and water?
We want to know that our decision-makers are representing our conservation values when they head to the legislature to do the people’s business. Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM) is here to help you hold your legislators accountable for the votes they take and the bills they sponsor during legislative sessions at the State Capitol. We do that through our flagship tool – CVNM’s 2017-2018 Conservation Scorecard.»
As a CVNM member, you are the first to see our online Scorecard, updated and released today to reflect critical votes taken in both the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions.
The 2018 session was “short” – just thirty days focused on our state budget. And with revenues up, developing that budget was easier than in recent years. It seemed like it would be a quiet month. However, PNM had other ideas – bringing forward a bill to address the closure of the San Juan Generating Station in the Four Corners region. Everyone agrees we should shut this dirty, polluting dinosaur down, but PNM wants to make sure it gets its money back. This was clearly the primary goal of the bill – it didn’t do nearly enough to look out for the communities, schools and families that have relied on the jobs and revenue from the power plant and its mine for generations. Thankfully, CVNM staff were at the table to speak up for communities and work to include clean energy in the replacement power mix. Along with our partners in the environmental community, we spent hours in discussions with PNM. This culminated in an unusual Saturday morning hearing with testimony from CVNM and other environmental groups and a top utility regulator expressing the concerns we still had with the bill. After hearing this testimony and receiving phone calls and emails from concerned CVNM members like you, the committee did not pass the bill, but did acknowledge discussions should continue.
We couldn’t have stopped the lobbying powerhouse of PNM without strong public pressure – folks like you paying attention, making phone calls, and sending emails at just the right time. Make sure we keep up this great track record by learning how your legislators voted on the conservation issues important to you.»
Your hard work over the years – contacting your legislators in many different ways – is paying off. The overall scores in both the House and Senate have gone up again. The average conservation score earned in the Senate in the 2017-2018 Scorecard is 76%, an increase from 68% last year. The average conservation score in the House of Representatives went up from 67% to 70%. The overall conservation performance of both chambers increased, thanks in part to the strong pro-conservation leadership from Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth and Speaker Brian Egolf. Strong leadership helps us secure pro-conservation results for healthy, thriving communities.
The Capitol can seem far away from the everyday challenges faced by folks in southern New Mexico, but the local impacts are everywhere. Below, we go into some regional issues and how they were addressed (or not addressed) during the past two legislative sessions:
Doña Ana and Grant County Area
The public comment period just wrapped up on the proposed boondoggle to dam and divert the wild Gila. During the 2018 legislative session, Senator Howie Morales and Representatives Rudy Martinez and Bill McCamley sponsored legislation, NM Unit Fund Water Projects (HB 127/SB 72, 2018) that would have made funding available to the Interstate Stream Commission for shovel-ready water projects in southwest New Mexico that are alternatives to a Gila River diversion. Unfortunately, both bills died in committee.
We appreciate the leadership of Reps. Martinez and McCamley and Sen. Morales on this important issue.
Western New Mexico
With legacy uranium mining sites scattered throughout the Grants Mining district continuing to pollute communities’ air, land and health, it is critical that action be taken to clean up this pollution. Western New Mexico legislators Representative Wonda Johnson and Senator John Pinto led the effort to include $250,000 in the state budget to study the education and training programs necessary to build a workforce to meet the demand for uranium site clean-up. Ultimately, $200,000 was included in the final budget, but Governor Susana Martinez used a line-item veto to remove it. We appreciate the leadership of Rep. Johnson and Sen. Pinto to address these concerns raised by their constituents.
Bernalillo County Area
Albuquerque’s Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero continues to stand out for her willingness to sponsor important community-led measures. She co-sponsored a memorial (HJM 6, 2018) which asked the legislature to support utilizing New Mexico’s $18 million settlement funds from the Volkswagen cheating scandal to begin transitioning the state’s school bus fleet to clean electric buses. In 2017, she sponsored a Community Solar measure (HB 338, 2017) which would have made clean energy like solar more accessible to more New Mexican families. The Community Solar bill failed on the House floor when four legislators walked out rather than vote on the measure. We applaud Rep. Roybal Caballero for continuing to be a champion for her community and putting her all into getting it right.
We would also like to highlight Sen. Sander Rue who earned a 94%, nearly 20 points higher than any other Republican legislator in the Albuquerque area. Sen. Rue puts the issues his constituents care about above party politics, supporting bills promoting clean energy like solar and wind and open, transparent government above party politics. We applaud him for his work. In recent sessions, Sen. Rue has co-sponsored measures to fund alternatives to a Gila River diversion (SB 172, 2017), bring transparency to the capital outlay process (SB 54, 2018) and has consistently voted in support of measures to expand access and use of clean energy. In addition, Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, another Republican legislator, co-sponsored legislation in 2016 (HB 26) and 2017 (HB 61/HB 82) to reinstate New Mexico’s solar tax credit. We know that New Mexicans across the political spectrum care about having clean air for our children to breathe, drinkable water and clean energy like solar and wind and we will look to more legislators to represent your values.
In 2017, Rep. Larry Larrañaga from Bernalillo introduced Public-Private Partnerships (HB 275, 2017) which proposed to privatize critical public services. Just like we did in 2015, New Mexicans stood up against attempts to privatize our water and other critical public services.
When something seems too good to be true, it probably is. This is the warning our legislators took to heart when they voted down this dangerous bill 7-4 in the House Labor and Economic Development Committee. Privatizing our water should never be an option – it pits our health against profits, and we all know how that ends. When critical services are privatized, New Mexicans pay the true costs through higher costs, lower quality and expensive legal battles in the long term. We thank the legislators who voted against the Public-Private Partnerships Act.
There are so many more great examples of why we have to hold our decision makers accountable – visit our Scorecard website and learn more about your legislator’s record.»
While some lawmakers continued to vote to protect New Mexico’s air, land and water, others sided with polluting industries that care singularly about their bottom line by repeatedly supporting anti-conservation measures. In both cases, it’s important that their constituents know the score and hold them accountable. Visit our Scorecard website, learn your legislators’ score and reach out to them. Tell them “thanks” or “no thanks!”»