Conservation Voters New Mexico Legislative Outcomes, 2023 Legislative Agenda
In every session, CVNM identifies bills that impact the air we breathe, the water we drink, our public lands and treasured wildlife, and our diverse communities. We evaluate each conservation-related bill and determine our top priority bills, other bills we’ll support, and any we oppose.
Out of the 75 bills we supported, 19 passed, 6 were vetoed, and of the 9 anti-conservation bills we opposed, none passed.
New Mexico is one of only a handful of states still served by a “citizen legislature,” meaning that state legislators are not monetarily compensated and generally have occupations outside of their service as public officials. Although New Mexico legislators receive a modest allowance for mileage and expenses for attending sessions and interim committee meetings, the state constitution prohibits any other compensation.
A “legislature” in New Mexico, such as the “55th Legislature,” consists of two sessions split into two-year cycles, for which legislators convene in mid-January. In odd-numbered years, legislators convene for a “long session” of 60 days. In even-numbered years, they meet for a “short session” of 30 days, during which only budget matters and issues approved by the Governor may be considered. New Mexico legislative sessions are among the shortest in the country.
This summary is divided into six sections:
- Budget Outcomes
- Pro-Conservation legislation that passed and was signed by the Governor
- Pro-Conservation legislation that passed but was vetoed
- Pro-Conservation legislation that didn’t pass
- Anti-Conservation legislation that passed
- Anti-Conservation legislation that didn’t pass
Legislation not signed by the Governor by April 7 was pocket vetoed. **Starred bills are high priority. Votes on these measures may be weighed on CVNM’s scorecard.
The 2023 session saw great opportunity in the budget due to a significant budget surplus. The surplus was put to effective use in many areas, most notably in providing a meaningful initial investment in the Land of Enchantment Legacy and Permanent Funds. An area that continues to be a challenge is agency operating funds. While there was a great deal of money available, it was generally (accurately) regarded as a one-off opportunity. For this reason both the executive and legislative budget setters were reluctant to commit to the types of new agency capacity that we need going forward because it would be designated as a “recurring” expense. Despite that, here are a few of the highlights from this year’s budget process:
- $100 million for the Conservation Legacy Fund
- $7.5 million for the Strategic Water Reserve
- $500,000 for 50 year water plan implementation, and future planning
- $680,000 for NMED to develop a state surface water permitting program
- $100 million for Energy and Economic Transition
Pro-Conservation legislation that passed and was signed by the Governor:
**HB 4: Voting Rights Protections (Martínez, Chasey, Johnson, Lara, Lente, Roybal Caballero; Duhigg, O’Neill) HB 4 makes substantial changes to state election law. These include:
- Restoration of voting rights to citizens convicted of felonies
- Improvement of Native voter protections
- Upgrades to secure automatic voter registration
- Creation and enforcement of a permanent absentee list
- Marking Election Day as a school holiday
The Voting Rights Act ensures that every New Mexican, regardless of background, geography, or demographics, will be able to participate in an efficient, secure, equitable and inclusive democratic process. Passed through the House 41-26 and the Senate 27-14, was signed by the Governor on March 30, 2023. **PRIORITY BILL – votes on this bill may be weighted
HB 95: Renewable Energy Office in State Land Office (Lujan, Sariñana) The State Land Office’s mission is to use state trust land to raise revenue for New Mexico public schools and other public institutions. One of the ways this is done is by leasing land for renewable energy projects, including wind and solar. In 2022, the State Land Office generated $12 million in revenue through renewable energy project leases, a figure which is expected to grow. HB 95 institutionalizes the State Land Office’s Office of Renewable Energy. An Office of Renewable Energy will provide long-term stability for renewable energy leasing, limiting partisan fluctuation in current state-level investments in renewable energy development. Passed through the House 48-19 and the Senate 27-8, and was signed by the Governor on March 16, 2023.
HB 142: Generating Facility and Mine Remediation (Allison, Szczepanski, Matthews) HB 142 establishes requirements for a study and report detailing a remediation plan for the San Juan Generating Station (SJGS). Additional requirements for cleanup and remediation at SJGS will benefit the local community by helping guarantee a thorough and durable cleanup and remediation process. Passed the House 53-5 and the Senate 31-0, signed by the Governor on April 5, 2023.
HB 195: Forest Conservation Act Amendments (McQueen, Nibert; Woods) HB 195 updates the Forest Conservation Act to cite the correct federal laws that provide federal forestry funding assistance to states and strike outdated language that conflicts with current state and federal policies. Additional amendments have outlined several changes to authority under EMNRD and the Forestry Division to prevent catastrophic fires like the ones New Mexico experienced during the summer of 2022 from repeating. Passed through the House 66-0 and the Senate 36-0, and was signed by the Governor on March 30, 2023.
SB 1: Regional Water System Resiliency (Wirth, Stefanics; Herrera) SB 1 allows regional authorities to provide water/wastewater services, road improvements, and renewable energy projects. It also outlines articles of incorporation requirements; powers and duties; and board leadership, including capabilities and responsibilities of the board. It allows for the transfer of assets and liabilities by listed entities providing water or sewer services. The benefit to communities from these steps includes developing drought contingency plans, monitoring and assessing aquifers, and gaining knowledge and resources to increase the resilience of their water systems. Additionally, it will allow communities to pool their resources in various ways, creating a more equitable system for all involved. Passed through the Senate 33-0 and the House 46-22, and was signed by the Governor on March 13, 2023.
SB 6: Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire Recovery Funds (Campos, Stefanics; Castellano, Sanchez, Lujan) Last summer New Mexico saw some of the worst wildfires in the state’s history, one of which was the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire that burned over 300,000 acres in Northern New Mexico. As a result, the impacted communities have had to figure out how to rebuild in the aftermath. SB 6 provides a $100 million reverting appropriation to be used to provide zero-interest, reimbursable loans to state political subdivisions approved by FEMA for public assistance grantmaking to replace and repair damaged infrastructure. This can include necessary water and aquifer recovery projects in the area to help mitigate the long-lasting impacts this fire is going to have on these communities. Passed through the Senate 39-0 and the House 66-0, and was signed by the Governor on February 20, 2023.
**SB 9: Create Legacy Permanent Funds (Neville, Wirth, Stefanics) SB 9 creates two funds: the Conservation Legacy Permanent Fund – an investment fund – and the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund, which is an annual operating fund. These funds deliver for New Mexico communities and better protect us from extreme weather conditions like wildfire, flooding and drought. It also preserves our cultural heritage and outdoor traditions, leaving a legacy for our children to hunt, fish, farm, ranch, and enjoy the lands and waters the way our ancestors have for generations. Local entities – including acequias, tribes, and Soil & Water Conservation Districts – are primed to apply for projects they know work for them. This investment will deliver resources to all 33 counties and tribal communities across the state. Passed through the Senate 33-7 and the House 54-11, was signed by the Governor on March 23, 2023. **PRIORITY BILL – votes on this bill may be weighted
SB 53/HB 122: Storage of Certain Radioactive Waste (Steinborn; Sariñana, Roybal Caballero, McQueen) Proper storage and disposal of radioactive and hazardous waste is critical in avoiding radiation exposure and pollution to our land and residents. Because our national labs are highly involved with nuclear weapons research, New Mexico must be particularly cautious with how we handle the byproducts of those projects. SB 53 ensures that we have a task force equipped with experts to protect vulnerable populations from radioactive exposure, as well as statutes that prevent irresponsible handling of radioactive and hazardous materials. Passed through the Senate 21-13 and House 35-28, and was signed into law on March 17, 2023.
SB 72: Create Wildlife Corridors Fund (Stewart, Hamblen) Accidents related to animal crossings are commonplace, and cost New Mexicans – a price paid not just in dollars. SB 72 appropriates $50 million from the general fund for wildlife studies and the planning, construction and management of safe road crossings for wildlife. These efforts are timely and align with similar efforts across the country. Colorado passed and signed a $5M annual appropriation in 2022, and Florida’s Republican Senate President announced the expansion of the state’s wildlife corridor as a 2023 legislative priority. Passed through the Senate 37-2 and the House 49-20, was signed by the governor on March 23, 2023.
SB 176: Acequia Fund for Disaster Response (Campos, Gonzales, Hemphill, Jaramillo, Stefanics; Castellano) Similar to the benefits from SB 6, ensuring that acequias and community ditches have adequate provisions for disaster response is vital to ensuring the health of their water systems. The changes proposed by SB 176 in process will help prioritize the need and readiness of projects and consideration of acequia and community ditch plans before approval. Additionally, it will double the funding from annual transfer of funds from the NM irrigation works construction fund to the acequia and community ditch infrastructure fund.Passed through the Senate 34-0 and the House 64-3, and was signed by the Governor on March 30, 2023.
SB 206: Forestry Division Procurement Exemption (Hamblen, Woods; McQueen, Nibert) SB 206 adds to existing procurement code exemptions contracts entered into by the forestry division of EMNRD to distribute federal grants to NGOs and individuals selected through USDA, US Dept. of Interior, “or any division or bureau thereof for programs for wildfire prevention or protection, urban forestry, forest and watershed restoration and protection, reforestation or economic development projects to advance the use of trees and wood biomass for hazardous fuel reduction.” Through this narrow exemption, contracts relating to purposes listed will simplify an otherwise more involved process mandated by state procurement code that will increase the likelihood of engagement in and completion of such projects, lessening the time frame during which necessary processes prior to project initiation are conducted. Specific project purposes listed in the bill that are added to procurement code exemptions are those relating to: wildfire prevention or protection, urban forestry, forest and watershed restoration and protection, reforestation or economic development projects to advance the use of trees and wood biomass for hazardous fuel reduction. Passed through the Senate 34-0 and the House 66-0, and was signed by the Governor on April 5, 2023
SB 337: Water Security Planning Act (Stefanics, Herrera) One of the many recommendations of the Water Task Force in 2022 was to develop the state’s regional water planning. This bill authorizes ISC to make loans and grants for regional water planning and sets ISC up to make rules and guidelines regarding regional water planning. A number of community benefits come from such programs, including helping communities mitigate the negative impacts of drought and setting them up with the resources and knowledge of their own water resources and systems. Passed through the Senate 39-0 and the House 62-0, and was signed by the Governor on April 4, 2023.
Pro-Conservation legislation that passed but was vetoed:
HB 32: Energy Storage System Tax Credit (Sariñana, Lujan, Stewart) HB 32 creates a tax credit for installation of energy storage systems. It will cover 40% of the cost of purchase and installation (up to $5,000 for residential installation and $150,000 for installation on commercial and agricultural property). This bill allows New Mexicans to actively participate in grid modernization and pollution reduction by incentivizing the purchase of energy storage systems. These systems will supply the grid with power when solar energy isn’t actively generating power, helping create a more reliable energy grid. Passed through the House and the Senate as part of the tax package; line-item vetoed.
HB 184: State Game Commission Changes (McQueen, Diamond) HB 184 provides additional support and functionality to the State Game Commission. Several changes outlined in the bill will help the commission function more effectively, highlighting other duties and authorities of the commission while creating a clearer process for appointment and removal. Passed through the House 45-21 and the Senate 34-2; not signed by the Governor and therefore pocket vetoed.
HB 365/SB 8: Geothermal Center & Fund (Roybal Caballero, Ferrary, Lujan, Sariñana, Jones, Terrazas; Ortiz y Pino) Geothermal heat energy is a renewable zero-emission form of energy. New Mexico is ranked sixth highest in the nation for geothermal energy potential thanks to our unique geology. Investing in this form of energy could be an important step in achieving the state’s climate goal of being emissions-free by 2050. Investment in geothermal also supports economic diversification and development initiatives. Passed the House 63-3 and the Senate 37-0; not signed by the Governor and therefore pocket vetoed.
HB 412/SB 22: Electric Vehicle Tax Credit (Gurrola, Szczepanski, Anyanonu, Garrett, Lara, Lujan, Sariñana, Trujillo; Tallman) Tailpipe emissions make up 14% of all air pollution in our state. Typically, low-income communities of color who reside near high-traffic corridors suffer the most damaging impacts of traffic air pollution. HB 412 helps make the purchase of electric vehicles more accessible to all New Mexicans by establishing two tax credits for the purchase of electric vehicles and charging stations, as well as offering an additional tax break for low-income New Mexicans. Subsidizing industries in their early phases is a common practice that we’ve relied on to jumpstart industries. The future of transportation is electric, and we need to ensure New Mexicans will not be left behind in this transition. Passed through the House and the Senate as part of the tax package; line-item vetoed.
SB 94: Transfer Rio Grande Trail Administration (Steinborn, Diamond) This bill transfers authority over the Rio Grande Trail from EMNRD to the Outdoor Recreation Division (ORD). While EMNRD does house much of the state’s land management authorities, the recreational nature of the trail makes it a better fit for ORD. Passed through the Senate 32-2 and the House 64-4; not signed by the Governor and therefore pocket vetoed.
SB 173: Geothermal Energy Generation Tax Credit (Ortiz y Pino, Griggs, Woods, Stewart, Stefanics) SB 173 creates a geothermal electricity generation tax credit and corporate tax credit and related GRT and compensating tax deductions for geothermal construction. Passed through the House and the Senate as part of the tax package; line-item vetoed.
Pro-Conservation legislation that didn’t pass:
HB 30: Public School Ventilation Improvement Act (Chandler, Garratt, Roybal Caballero; Pope, Stewart) HB 30 would have established requirements for the Public Education Department to establish indoor ventilation assessment standards. This bill would have had the effect of reducing the transmissibility of airborne viruses as well as reducing exposure to indoor air pollutants. HB 30 died waiting to be scheduled in the House Education Committee.
HB 42/SB 5: Public Health and Climate Resiliency (Thomson, Ortez, Szczepanski, Johnson; Stefanics) HB 42 would have established a statewide public health and climate program within the NMDOH Environmental Health Epidemiology Bureau. Its purpose would have been to administer funds and assist local and frontline communities in preparing and responding to climate-related emergencies. In 2022, New Mexicans experienced devastating wildfires, drought, and extreme heat. Such events have become more frequent and widespread due to climate change, and without aggressive climate action will only worsen. A fully funded Public Health and Climate Resiliency program will protect our most vulnerable communities. HB 42 received a do pass out of the House Health and Human Services Committee, but died waiting to be scheduled in House Appropriations and Finance Committee. SB 5 received a do pass out of the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee, but died waiting to be scheduled in Senate Finance Committee.
HB 67: Energy Facilities Bonds and Gross Receipts (Chandler, Ortez) HB 67 would have added energy storage projects to the types of projects that industrial bonds may finance. Storage projects will be critical in the coming years to add readily dispatchable sources to the grid. This change would have made it easier for energy developers to add much-needed storage projects to help our state move toward renewable energy. HB 67 received a do pass out of the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee, but died waiting to be scheduled in House Taxation and Revenue Committee.
HB 91/ SB 112: Natural Resources Trustee Changes (Ferrary, Lujan; Sedillo Lopez, Gonzales) The Office of the Natural Resources Trustee (ONRT) is generally charged with managing environmental clean-up efforts and expending funds associated with environmental remediation projects. HB 91/SB 112 would have expanded the powers and duties of the trustee and added more effective tools to the toolkit. This would ensure that the ONRT could fully represent the interests of New Mexicans in the maintenance of a healthy environment. HB 91 was tabled in House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee. SB 112 failed to be scheduled in its first committee.
HB 121: Water Right Lease Effective Date (Chandler, Herrera; Wirth) HB 121 would have clarified that the State Engineer could approve a permit for a water use lease only after requirements for public notice and mandatory public hearings have been conducted. It is vital to ensure due process and transparency in any proposed changes to water rights that could affect existing and senior water rights holders, and our rivers and aquifers. HB 121 passed through all House committees, but died waiting to be scheduled on the House floor.
HB 185: Environmental Standards for Appliances & Fixtures (Ortez, Roybal Caballero) HB 185 would have created energy efficiency, water savings, and environmental standards for various commonly used household and commercial appliances. The goal is to phase out the sale of mercury-containing appliances and accelerate the transition to high-efficiency, low emissions and water-conserving machines. This bill had the potential to save $77 million on utility bills, reduce usage of natural gas, save 3,056 million gallons of water, and decrease carbon emissions by 105,000 MT. HB 185 would have protected New Mexican consumers from purchasing outdated, low-efficiency appliances. HB 185 passed through all House committees, but died waiting to be scheduled on the House floor.
**HB 188: Economic Transition Division (Rubio, Ortez, Serrato, Allison, Roybal Caballero, Sariñana, Johnson; Stewart) The push away from oil and gas will not come without cost. It is an industry that has provided a livelihood for the better part of a century. For some, it has created obscene wealth. For most, it has provided a boom and bust economy reliant on a volatile oil market. It is for the latter that we must ensure we have a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuels and a more stable, diversified economy. HB 188 was aimed at doing just that. It would have created an Economic Transition Division within the New Mexico Economic Development Department. The division would have supported workforce development for oil and gas communities in the renewable energy sector. Additionally, the division would have collected and allocated funds from the federal Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The target would be local governments and community groups that provide on-the-ground assistance to low-income, overburdened communities through health insurance, unemployment benefits, and income support. **PRIORITY BILL – votes on this bill may be weighted. HB 188 passed out of the House Government committee but was never heard in House Appropriations and Finance Committee; however, the transition issue that it sought to address was given some consideration in the budget.
HB 261: Expand Unlawful Taking of Big Game (Ortez, Johnson; Schmedes) HB 261 required hunters to remove the edible portions of bear, cougar, and javelina from the field and would add clarifying language in determination of waste. Expanding New Mexico’s existing law against the wanton waste of game animals to include these three species is necessary to protect the future of all hunting in our state. When a New Mexico hunter kills a black bear, javelina, or cougar and leaves the carcass in the field, it threatens to tarnish the public image of all hunters. It sends a negative message to non-hunters who come across a discarded carcass that hunting is just a blood sport and that banning the activity entirely would be justified. Penalties remain the same, with an expansion of included game and specifications regarding waste. HB 261 received a do pass recommendation out of House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee, but died waiting to be scheduled in House Judiciary Committee.
HB 218: Low-Income Public Utility Rates (Ortez, Rubio, Lente, Borrego, Romero; Stewart) HB 218 would have required public utilities to offer affordable rates to low-income New Mexicans. Low income communities who live at the federal poverty level pay upwards of 15% of their income to utility bills, often putting them in the difficult position of choosing between paying their electricity bill or buying food. This bill would have tasked the utilities and the PRC to determine low-income rates, and utilities would have been required to provide a progress report every three years. HB 218 passed out of its House committees, but died waiting to be scheduled on the House floor.
HB 242: Private Right of Action for Certain Statutes (McQueen) HB 242 would have added to the Air Quality, Hazardous Waste, Water Quality, and Solid Waste Acts the ability for private citizens to initiate civil actions for claims relating to injury, including economic or imminent threat to injury for violations of the act. The bill would also have established the scope and limitations of allowable actions. This legislation would have empowered New Mexico communities to seek remedy against illegal polluters instead of waiting for frequently over-taxed state agencies. HB 242 was tabled in House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
HB 276: Oil & Gas Permit Applications (Romero, Chandler) HB 276 would have given EMNRD the authority to require proof from oil and gas operators that they have proper environmental insurance, and can demonstrate fiscal solvency. It would have also required them to submit a fiscal solvency review as a part of the oil and gas permitting process. The bill would also create procedures for application denial, suspension, and revocation for poor compliance. With these statutes, HB 276 would have helped ensure the oil and gas industry takes necessary steps to maintain oil wells and prevent environmental and health hazards related to orphaned and abandoned wells. HB 276 was tabled in House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
HB 412/SB 22: Electric Vehicle Tax Credit (Gurrola, Szczepanski, Anyanonu, Garrett, Lara, Lujan, Sariñana, Trujillo; Tallman/Gurrola, Szczepanski, Sariñana, Anyanonu; Tallman) Tailpipe emissions make up 14% of all air pollution in our state, and it is typically low-income communities of color who reside near high traffic corridors who suffer the most damaging impacts of traffic air pollution. HB 412 would have helped make the purchase of electric vehicles more accessible to all New Mexicans by establishing two tax credits for the purchase of electric vehicles and charging stations, as well as offering an additional tax break for low-income New Mexicans. Subsidizing industries in their early phases is a common practice that we’ve relied on to jumpstart industries. The future of transportation is electric, and we need to ensure New Mexicans will not be left behind in this transition. HB 412 passed out of House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee, but died waiting to be scheduled in House Taxation and Revenue Committee. SB 22 died waiting to be scheduled in its first committee.
HB 426: Clean Fuels Standards (Ortez, Chandler, Lara; Stewart, Duhigg, Hamblen) HB 426 would have provided the Environmental Improvement Board the authority to implement a Clean Fuel Standard for transportation fuels. The standard would have reduced the carbon intensity of transportation fuels to at least 20% of 2018 levels by 2030 and at least 30% by 2040. This bill could have played a crucial role in reducing emissions impacts from the transportation sector while electric vehicles gain market share. HB 426 passed out of its House committees, but died waiting to be scheduled on the House floor.
HB 432/SB 243: Plastic Waste Reduction Act (Roybal Caballero, Borrego; Steinborn/Steinborn; Roybal Caballero, Lujan) HB 432 would have prohibited single-use plastic bags, with a list of exceptions. Plastic pollution is an ongoing issue of global concern. Plastic bags do not completely decompose. Instead, they photodegrade, leaving behind microplastic pollution that degrades our water, wildlife, and public health. HB 432 passed out of its House committees, but failed to be scheduled on the House floor. SB 243 passed out of Senate Conservation Committee, but died waiting to be scheduled in Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee.
HB 436: Biodiesel Tax Credits (Lara, Ortez; Hamblen) HB 436 would have created a personal and corporate income tax credit of $0.50 per gallon for blended biodiesel fuel purchased in the state. The bill would have also allowed for a gross receipt tax deduction for biodiesel purchasing in the computing of compensating tax. As we continue transitioning to a fully electric transportation sector, it is vital to take intermediate steps that help lessen the carbon intensity of existing fuels. HB 436 passed out of House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources, but died waiting to be scheduled in House Taxation and Revenue Committee.
HB 489: State Engineer Qualifications (Romero) HB 489 would have expanded eligibility for the State Engineer to include credentialed hydrologists, geohydrologists,, geologists, environmental scientists, or attorneys. By doing so, this position can be filled by a professional who will support and drive forward water projects that are vital to our drought-stricken state. HB 489 died, never got scheduled in the first committee.
HJR 4/SJR 6: Environmental Rights, CA (Ferrary, Roybal Caballero, Lujan, Herndon, Chávez; Sedillo Lopez/Sedillo Lopez, Pope, Pinto; Ferrary, Lujan + 15) HJR 4 would have constitutionally mandated that state and local decision-makers protect the environmental rights of all New Mexicans. This would give communities experiencing environmental injustice legal recourse to protect their air, land and water, helping to ensure that government decisions prioritize environmental protection for all. HJR 4 died waiting to be scheduled in its first committee. SJR 6 was heard in Senate Rules, but never received a vote.
HJR 8: Legislative Salaries, CA (Rubio, Garratt, Sariñana, Ortez, Herrera + 29) A full-time paid legislature would open the prospect of service to more New Mexicans and support the possibility of longer, more productive legislative sessions. HJR 8 would have established salaries for elected legislators and created a citizen commission on legislative salaries to determine them. HJR 8 passed the House 40-24 and Senate Rules Committee, but died waiting to be scheduled in Senate Finance Committee.
SB 5/HB 42: Public Health and Climate Resiliency (Stefanics, Campos, McKenna, Pinto, Sedillo Lopez; Thomson), See companion bill, HB 42: Public Health and Climate Resiliency.
SB 22/HB 412: Electric Vehicle & Charging Unit Credits (Tallman/Gurrola, Szczepanski, Sariñana, Anyanonu; Tallman), See companion bill, HB 412: Electric Vehicle Tax Credit.
SB 25: Federal Infrastructure Matching Fund (Muñoz) SB 25 would have created a matching fund for tribal communities to leverage federal dollars for infrastructure projects, including many that could bolster water resources and renewable energy for the state. This bill would have also supported additional investment in projects that would lead to sustainable water systems and other resources and allow for long-term resiliency among those living on tribal lands in New Mexico. SB 25 received a do pass in Senate Indian, Rural and Cultural Affairs Committee, but died awaiting to be scheduled in Senate Finance Committee. $25 million was earmarked for this purpose in the budget.
SB 30: State Purchase Of Electric Vehicles (Soules) The state of New Mexico currently has over 1,900 vehicles in its fleet. Vehicle exhaust is a substantial contributor to climate change and smog, which can cause severe health impacts and respiratory disease. By mandating that the state transition 75% of its vehicle fleet to electric by 2030, SB 30 would have saved the state money in fuel and maintenance costs, protected the health of communities and state workers, and addressed air pollution contributing to climate change. SB 30 received a do pass in Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee, but died waiting to be scheduled in Senate Finance Committee.
SB 45: Geothermal Ground-Coupled Heat Pump Credit (Soules) Geothermal ground-coupled heat pumps are a zero-emissions, sustainable way of heating and cooling our homes. The climate of New Mexico creates an ideal environment that enables geothermal heat pumps to be a reliable and efficient heating/cooling source year round. As we continue our transition to renewable energy, this technology would have provided another avenue to achieve our climate and energy goals. SB 45 died waiting to be scheduled in its first committee.
SB 56: Distributed Generation Facility Supply Cap (Soules) Currently, residential solar panel installations are capped in size and can be built no larger than 120% of the host user’s annual electrical consumption. By removing the cap, SB 56 would have allowed for larger installation projects that would provide a surplus of renewable energy to the grid and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. SB 56 passed the Senate 25-10, but was tabled in House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
SB 59: Study NM High Speed Railroad (Soules) HB 59 proposed conducting a study into the logistics of constructing a high-speed rail in New Mexico. Such systems work to bring equitable transportation to the communities they serve. They are also an affordable and easy-to-access method of reducing the transportation sector’s carbon footprint. This study would have allowed the potential for all New Mexicans to benefit from such a railway system. SB 59 received a do pass out of Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee, but died waiting to be scheduled in Senate Finance Committee.
SB 60: Photovoltaic Systems In New Public Schools (Soules) SB 60 would have helped to reduce the carbon footprint of new public school construction and operation. Additionally, solar panels help to keep energy costs down for school districts, promote cleaner air, and provide a vital hands-on learning environment for students. SB 60 received a do pass out of Senate Education Committee, but died waiting to be scheduled in Senate Finance Committee.
SB 70: NM Unit Fund Projects (Correa Hemphill; Terrazas) SB 70 would have appropriated $600,000 from the General Fund over four years to DFA’s local government division for the southwest NM regional planning commission. Its purpose was to provide technical assistance to entities in Grant, Luna, Hidalgo, and Catron counties for the development of water supply projects eligible for funding from the NM Unit Fund. This funding would’ve allowed rural entities in those counties to access technical assistance and other resources. This would’ve allowed them to adequately develop water supply projects for NM Unit Fund consideration. These water projects could range from ensuring water quality to post-fire watershed health restoration. The funding would’ve also supported hiring an additional staff person to focus on the following tasks:
- Ensure compliance of project entity with state auditing
- Infrastructure capital improvement planning
- Facilitate development of project proposals for the NM Unit Fund
- Shepherd proposals through the application process
- Assist with project planning and implementation
SB 70 passed the Senate 39-0, and received a do pass in the first house committee, but died waiting to be scheduled in House Appropriations and Finance Committee.
SB 74: Energy Generation Facility Requirements (Soules) SB 74 would’ve ensured that future utility resource plans invest solely in solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and/or hydropower. With the incredible abundance of renewable energy available in our state, this is a logical step in our plans for achieving a zero-emissions economy. Advances in combining renewable energy generation with energy storage systems have demonstrated that this type of generation is ready to deploy at scale. SB 74 received a do pass in Senate Conservation Committee, but died waiting to be scheduled in Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee.
SB 77: New Home Build Renewable Requirements (Soules) SB 77 would’ve amended the Construction Industries Licensing Act to require all new residential construction after July 1, 2023, to have photovoltaic systems installed. These systems are designed to supply usable solar power to residences and be tied to the grid, a hybrid grid, or off-grid system. Ensuring that new construction incorporates solar systems would expand solar energy production statewide while reducing utility bills for homeowners in the long term. SB 77 passed the Senate 23-15, but died waiting to be scheduled for the House floor.
SB 112/HB 91: Natural Resources Trustee Changes (Sedillo Lopez; Sariñana/ Ferrary, Lujan; Sedillo Lopez), See companion bill, HB 91: Natural Resources Trustee Changes.
SB 127: High-Speed Border-to-Border Railroad (Soules) A high-speed rail would give travelers a safe, environmentally friendly, and speedy commute alternative to driving by car. As a result, SB 127 would have drastically cut air pollution, and provide a more equitable travel option for families across the state. SB 127 died waiting to be scheduled for its first committee.
SB 161: Restrict Use Of Certain Pesticides (Stewart, O’Neill) SB 161 would have limited the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, with a list of exceptions. Neonicotinoid pesticides have many adverse effects on people, plants, and animals. Pesticides have serious health consequences for humans, but neonicotinoids in particular have been linked to mass deaths in bees and other pollinators. Pollinator species are vital to crop and plant health and must be protected.SB 161 died waiting to be scheduled for its first committee.
SB 164: Future Oil & Gas Lease Royalty Rates (Tallman, Pope; Sariñana) SB 164 would have amended the State Land Office lease form for oil and gas land tracts to increase the minimum on royalty payments for oil and gas corporations to 1/4 from 1/5 of the amount and value of oil produced on newly leased land. The bill would have also required land lessees to minimize waste, venting, and flaring, and payment of royalties on waste. This change would bring New Mexico’s royalty revenue rate closer to neighboring states, which collect royalties at a much higher rate. SB 164 received a do pass in Senate committees, but died waiting to be scheduled on the Senate floor.
SB 167: Strategic Water Reserve (Stefanics, Wirth; Ortez + 13) SB 167 would have appropriated $25 million in non-reverting general fund dollars to the Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) to administrate the Strategic Water Reserve. This funding would’ve allowed the ISC to have reliable funding to act competitively in the leasing or purchasing of water rights from willing sellers and lessors. The Strategic Water Reserve is currently utilized for two purposes: for compact compliance, and to assist the state in the Endangered Species Act compliance. The leasing process could have provided much needed financial relief for individual rights holders. At the same time, the water from their lease can stay in the river system, providing benefits to the environment, non-consumptive users, and downstream rights holders. SB 167 received a do pass in Senate Conservation Committee, but died waiting to be scheduled in Senate Finance Committee.
SB 169: Climate Investment Center & Fund (Stefanics; Ortez, Maestas, Romero + 7 others) SB 169 would have created the Climate Investment Center and Fund. The Investment Center would’ve been tasked with supporting various projects to address climate change’s impacts. This would’ve helped ensure that New Mexicans would have the funding and solutions necessary to prepare for and mitigate the consequences of climate change. The goals laid out in SB 169 aligned with the steps necessary for our state to achieve an equitable transition away from oil and gas. SB 169 received a do pass in Senate Conservation Committee, but died waiting to be scheduled in Senate Finance Committee.
SB 238: No Aviation Fuel With Lead Sales (Soules) SB 238 would have prohibited the sale of aviation fuel containing lead, potentially limiting the widespread exposure to lead. This bill is aligned with a similar prohibition proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. SB 238 received a do pass in Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee, but died waiting to be scheduled in Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee.
SB 243/HB 432: Plastic Waste Reduction Act (Steinborn; Roybal Caballero, Lujan + 10), See companion bill, HB 432: Plastic Waste Reduction Act.
SB 254: Game & Fish Licensing Fees (Neville, Campos) This increase in Game & Fish license fees would have brought some much-needed revenue to the state’s Game & Fish Department. The larger proposed fee increase applies only to non-residents seeking hunting and fishing licenses within our state. At the same time, SB 254 would’ve established a 25% discount for residents of New Mexico, ensuring that our community members are not being priced out of their interests. SB 254 passed the Senate 29-7, but died waiting to be scheduled in the first house committee.
SB 266: Retail Distributed Generation (Stefanics, Sedillo Lopez, Lopez, Hamblen; Lujan, Romero, Ferrary) Continuing to build out distributed generation resources will help contain energy costs and contribute to grid resiliency. SB 266 would’ve amended the Renewable Energy Act to include a definition for “retail distributed generation”. It also would’ve added a requirement adding retail distributed generation to public utilities’ electric energy supply portfolio, requiring new minimum components of public utility retail sales be from retail distributed generation at certain time-bound intervals, specifically: no less than 6% by 2026, 8% by 2028; 12% by 2030, and 15% by 2031. SB 266 received a do pass in Senate Conservation Committee, but died waiting to be scheduled in Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee.
SB 289: K-12 Outdoor Education Program (Gonzales, Hemphill) New Mexico educators have expressed broad support for outdoor learning, and research suggests that school performance increases when students have outdoor learning experiences. But these improvements are not limited to the classroom. Research has shown better in-school behavior, attendance, attitudes toward education, and other social and emotional development. SB 289 would have allowed PED to work closely with the Outdoor Recreation Division and its existing outdoor education programs, including the outdoor equity fund grant and paid outdoor high school internship program. SB 289 died waiting to be scheduled for its first committee.
SB 394: Conserved Unimproved Land Valuation (Gonzales) SB 394 would have provided a new special method of valuation for land transitioning into managed open space—helping families retain ownership while conserving agricultural land for future generations. The bill also would’ve have allowed landowners to partner with the state to meet priority resource management objectives, such as conserving water, restoring watersheds, improving soils, reducing erosion, and providing wildlife habitat. These benefits sustain public health, quality of life, and New Mexico’s economy. This bill would have struck a necessary balance between productive agriculture and meaningful conservation while preserving the rural traditions that comprise the backbone of our unique New Mexican culture. SB 394 died waiting to be scheduled for its first committee.
**SB 418: Oil & Gas Act Changes (Jaramillo) The Oil and Gas Act is out of date and no longer reflects the needs and interests of the public, especially frontline, overburdened communities who face the harshest impacts of climate change. SB 418 was needed in order to protect these vulnerable communities from the lack of oversight of the oil and gas industry. SB 418 would have updated the Oil and Gas Act (Section 70-2-1 to 70-2-39 NMSA) for the first time since 1935. It would have 1) expanded the jurisdiction of the Oil Conservation Commission (OCC) and the Oil Conservation Division (OCD) to include environmental justice initiatives, 2) expanded the membership of the OCC from three to five members and require one of the members to be an environmental justice expert. This suite of changes would have helped facilitate rulemakings at the OCC that are more inclusive and reflective of the public interest, as well as update the Commission’s membership. SB 418 received a do pass in Senate Conservation Committee, but died waiting to be scheduled in Senate Judiciary Committee. **PRIORITY BILL – votes on this bill may be weighted
SB 420: Gov’t Unit Utility Savings Contracts (Stefanics) SB 420 would have changed the Public Facilities Energy Efficiency & Water Conservation Act (Section 6-23-3 NMSA) to read “shall” instead of “may” so that public entities are required to enter into utility savings contracts with providers to reduce energy and water consumption. This was previously optional. This requirement would have helped government entities become more efficient, allowing them to save on utility costs. SB 420 received a do pass in Senate Conservation Committee, but died waiting to be scheduled in Senate Judiciary Committee.
SB 432: Low-Income Solar Act (Hamblen) SB 432 would have provided onsite net-metering benefits for qualifying low-income housing and expanded our state’s property tax exemptions to all rooftop solar installations. This would’ve allowed low-income households who often reside in multifamily residential buildings to benefit from rooftop solar systems, as they would receive credits back for the net energy produced. Many low-income communities spend up to 15% of their monthly income on utility bills, and this bill will help ease that burden. SB 432 passed the Senate 25-11 but died waiting to be scheduled in its first House committee.
**SB 520: Clean Future Act (Stewart) SB 520 would have been the first critical step toward establishing statewide climate action. It would cross agencies and economic sectors, offering a foundation to build on in coming sessions and rulemakings. SB 520 also would have codified the nation-leading methane rules passed in 2021 and 2022, adding greenhouse gas emissions targets to the Air Quality Control Act and establishing equity and climate justice review of all climate actions undertaken by the state. SB 520 died in Senate Conservation Committee. **PRIORITY BILL – votes on this bill may be weighted
SJR 6/HJR 4: Environmental Rights, CA (Sedillo Lopez, Pope, Pinto; Ferrary, Lujan + 15) See companion bill, HJR 4: Environmental Rights, CA.
Oppose Anti-Conservation Legislation
The following bills posed risks to New Mexico’s families, communities and taxpayers by subsidizing enterprises that pollute, weakening critical safeguards or encouraging activities that threaten our air, land and water.
Anti-Conservation legislation that passed:
Anti-Conservation legislation that did not pass:
HB 12: Advanced Energy Technology Act (Dixon, Ortez, Rubio, Small, Lundstrom) This bill would have created one new division in the Economic Development Department and rename another. The repurposed Science, Technology, and Advanced Energy Division would have been responsible for developing and attracting advanced energy technologies and projects, including extremely problematic types from a climate perspective. These types of projects would have included nuclear, carbon sequestration, and potentially others, including hydrogen.
The new division would have been called the “Economic Transition Division” (originally proposed in HB 188) and would provide a badly needed state hub for managing the significant impact of the energy transition that is already upon us.
Unfortunately, the community benefit of the Economic Transition Division was compromised by the unpopular and polluting elements that would potentially be developed by the Science, Technology, and Advanced Energy Division. Energy communities in New Mexico deserve better than to be pitted against themselves. HB 12 died waiting to be scheduled for its first committee.
HB 96: Combined Cycle Natural Gas as Renewable (Townsend, Pettigrew, Ezzell, Manson) New Mexico is a state with an incredible abundance of renewable energy in the form of solar, wind and geothermal energy. These sources are currently defined as “renewable energy resources” in the Renewable Energy Act and the Rural Electric Cooperative Act. Nuclear and fossil-fuel based energy have been specifically left out of this definition. Including “natural gas” in any form in these two Acts would undermine New Mexico’s climate goals of reaching zero emissions by 2050. HB 96 was tabled in House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
HB 109: Repeal NM Civil Rights Act (Block) HB 109 would have repealed the Civil Rights Act of 2021, significantly contracting the rights and power of New Mexico citizens to seek remedies for constitutional violations, including environmental justice communities. HB 109 was tabled in House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee.
HB 110: Voter ID Requirements (Block, Duncan) HB 110 would have acted as a deterrent to the ballot for many New Mexicans. The ballot is one of the most powerful tools that New Mexicans have to express their environmental values, and access to it should continue to be protected and expanded. HB 110 died waiting to be scheduled for its first committee.
HB 174: Underground Injection Fund (Dixon, Small) This bill would have created a fund for the state to utilize as it pursues the ability to administer an underground carbon sequestration program. While carbon capture and storage may in some select cases play a role in fighting climate change, it’s currently an unproven technology that should not be the focus of significant state investment. HB 174 received a do pass in House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee, but died waiting to be scheduled in House Appropriations and Finance Committee.
HB 430: Local Gov’t Fuel Retailer Regulation (Zamora, Garcia) HB 430 sought to restrict counties and municipalities from enacting legislation that would prohibit siting and development of fuel retailers and infrastructure related to providing fuel to the communities. This bill would have been counterproductive to our state’s efforts in modernizing transportation to become fully electric. Counties and municipalities must have the ability to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure. HB 430 received a do pass without recommendation in House Transportation, Public Works and Capital Improvements Committee, but was tabled in House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee.
HB 431: Local Gov’t Utility Svc. Restrictions (Zamora, Garcia) HB 431 would have prohibited local government agencies from restricting the type of fuel sources used to serve their communities. Counties and municipalities should not be restricted in this way, as they generally are within the service areas of utilities and co-ops whose fuel sources and production are regulated by the PRC already. This restriction is little more than a misguided political statement that runs counter to what the majority of New Mexicans want for their energy future. HB 431 received a do pass from House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee, but was tabled in House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee.
HB 450: Oil & Gas Re-Stimulation Well Tax Credit (Sanchez; Muñoz) HB 450 would have provided a new severance tax exemption for certain oil and gas produced from wells that have undergone “re-stimulation treatments”, aka fracking activities. The oil and gas industry continues to experience virtually unchecked production growth, and does not require severance tax breaks. HB 450 died waiting to be scheduled in House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
SB 439: Leg. Approval for Certain Land Purchases (Sharer, Muñoz, Diamond + 5) SB 439 would have required legislative approval for certain state game commission land purchases of $1M or more. If passed, this bill would’ve unduly limited the Game and Fish Department’s ability to acquire lands from sellers seeking to have those lands protected. Furthermore, Game and Fish acquisition appropriations require legislative oversight through the development of HB 2, making this bill redundant. SB 439 passed out of all Senate committees, but died waiting to be heard on the Senate floor.