By Steve Terrell, The Santa Fe New Mexican
Three Santa Fe lawmakers scored perfect ratings for votes on environmental issues in a new scorecard published by a politically active statewide environmentalist group.
State Rep. Brian Egolf as well as Sens. Peter Wirth and Nancy Rodriguez got grades of 100 from Conservation Voters New Mexico. All three Democrats represent Santa Fe districts.
Meanwhile, Rep. Debbie Rodella, D-Española, was close with a score of 93 percent.
Once again, the Santa Fe area legislator rated lowest by the group was Sen. Phil Griego, D-San Jose, who scored 21 for his votes. Though Republicans in this Legislature routinely rate significantly lower in Conservation Voters scorecards, Griego was ranked lower than most senators on the GOP side of the aisle.
The scores were based on votes taken on a variety of bills related to the environment during the past two legislative sessions.
The scores for the other local lawmakers (all Santa Fe Democrats except where noted) were: Rep. Luciano “Lucky” Varela, 86; Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, 79; Rep. Nick Salazar of Ohkay Owingeh, 67; Rep. Carl Trujillo, 56; and Sen. Richard Martinez of Española, 44 percent.
Rep. Vickie Perea, R-Belen, who was appointed to her District 50 seat last year “did not cast sufficient votes for a score to be fairly awarded,” the scorecard said. Perea replaced Rep. Stephen Easley, D-Santa Fe, who died last year.
The lowest-ranked legislator in this scorecard was Sen. Lee Cotter, R-Las Cruces, who received a grade of zero. In the House, the lowest rating went to Rep. James Strickler, R-Farmington, who received a grade of 5 percent.
Statewide, five senators and eight House members received scores of 100 percent. Easley scored 100 percent for his votes in the 2013 session.
Most of the scores of Santa Fe-area legislators were down compared with the scorecard the Conservation Voters published late last year. Those scores were based only on 2013 votes.
For instance, Varela dropped this year from a perfect 100 in 2013. Garcia Richard was rated 92 percent last year, while Rep. Carl Trujillo scored 67 percent in 2013. Sen. Martinez scored 62 percent last year. Rep. Jim Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, had 58 percent in 2013, while Salazar dropped from 75 percent.
Among the votes considered in the scoring were bills Conservation Voters favored. The 2014 bills in this category included House Bill 343, which would have created a fund to conduct studies of the community health impacts of uranium mining, and Senate Bill 89, sponsored by Wirth, which would have required the state to spend $82 million in federal funding on projects like water conservation, watershed improvement and new infrastructure to help meet water demands in southwestern New Mexico — instead of a large-scale diversion project on the Gila River. (Both of these bill were defeated.)
Legislators also were judged on their votes on several bills the group opposed. In the 2014 session, these included HB 296 and SB 283, both of which would have allowed utilities to charge special “economic development” rates for some customers that could have increased rates for individuals, schools and small businesses; and Senate Memorial 47, which called for a state study of the possibility of transferring federal public lands to state control. All of those measures died in the Senate.
Because some of the votes were taken in committees, some legislators didn’t get a chance to vote on some of the bills that were counted by Conservation Voters. Most of the bills considered didn’t make it to votes in both chambers, so the bills the senators were graded on were mostly different than the ones that determined the House scores.