Legislative Priorities: Results from the 2013 Legislative Session
For the 9th year in a row, CVNM and our allies defeated 100% of the anti-conservation bills in the legislature.
This page is divided into five sections:
1) Pro-Conservation legislation that passed and was enacted
2) Pro-Conservation legislation that passed but was not enacted
3) Pro-Conservation legislation that didn’t pass
4) Anti-Conservation legislation that passed
5) Anti-Conservation legislation that didn’t pass
**Starred bills are high-priority. Votes on these measures may be weighted on CVNM’s Scorecard.
1) PRO-CONSERVATION legislation that passed and was enacted
We urged all of our Representatives and Senators to SUPPORT these measures:
HB 21: Public Meeting Agendas 72 Hours in Advance (Smith/Ivey-Soto)
New Mexicans face a number of barriers to getting actively involved in public policy. HB 21 addresses one such obstacle, by amending the Open Meetings Act to require that agendas for public meetings be available 72 hours in advance, except in the case of emergencies or for entities that routinely meet more than once weekly. HB 21 passed the House (59-0) and passed the Senate (31-0) and was signed by the Governor on March 27, 2013.
HB 47/SB 8: PRC Qualifications (Taylor)
The Public Regulation Commission (PRC) plays a critical role: it protects communities and families by ensuring that utilities, insurance, and telecommunications industries provide services and operate in a way that is fair and responsible. It is important that members of the commission have the appropriate background and expertise to make informed decisions. HB 47 died in Senate Rules Committee. Portions of HB 47 were combined into SB 8 (Keller). SB 8 passed the Senate (32-8) and the House (61-0) and was signed by the Governor on March 29, 2013.
HB 85: Geothermal Resource Leasing (Egolf)
Geothermal energy is a highly efficient and clean energy resource that harnesses naturally existing heat from the earth, rather than through combustion of fossil fuels. HB 85 would encourage the sustainable development of geothermal energy by facilitating geothermal leasing and development on state lands, while authorizing the State Land Office to establish protections against geothermal resource depletion. HB 85 passed the House (64-0) and passed the Senate (40-0) and was signed by the Governor on April 2, 2013.
HB 355/HB 371: Public Improvement District Requirements (Stewart; Harper)
Public Improvement Districts (PIDs) have proven to be a recipe for poorly-regulated sprawl development. Although some protections exist in theory, the reality is that developers aren’t always holding up their end of the bargain. The Mariposa subdivision in Rio Rancho is an excellent example of a development that is likely to become a massive burden to taxpayers. HB 355 would remedy many of the problems that exist with PIDs, ensuring protections for local governments and taxpayers against abuses of the PID system. HB 355 was rolled into HB 371. HB 371 passed House (67-0) and passed the Senate (41-0) and was signed by the Governor on March 27, 2013.
HB 415: Public Water Supply Contaminant Testing (Dodge)
HB 415 broadens the use of the Water Conservation Fund by authorizing the Environment Department to create an annual list of pollutants, and test water sources for additional sources of contamination – including unregulated contaminants like discarded prescription drugs and hormone-mimicking chemicals. HB 415 passed the House (65-0) and passed the Senate (40-0) and was signed by the Governor on April 2, 2013.
HB 497: Electronic Voter Registration Updates (Smith)
Paper voter registration forms increase the risk of errors, like data-entry mistakes or misplaced forms, which can impact the public’s eligibility to vote. They’re also time-consuming to acquire and submit, meaning many voters never get around to updating their information. By empowering voters to update their registration forms electronically, HB 497 streamlines that process while minimizing risks of error. HB 497 passed the House (64-0) and passed the Senate (34-5) and was signed by the Governor on April 1, 2013.
SB 14: Extend Sustainable Building Tax Credit (Wirth/CA Trujillo)
In the long term, energy efficient homes save consumers ample money on their utility bills and reduce overall demand for energy production. However, in the short term, some energy efficiency measures can be costly for home builders, retrofitters, and construction industries to incorporate. The sustainable building tax credit helps to offset those additional costs, and has proven to be a critical incentive for the home building and construction industries in adopting energy efficient building practices. SB 14 extends this important tax credit for an additional 10 years, through 2023.SB 14 passed the Senate (37-2) and passed the House (67-0) and was signed by the Governor on April 1, 2013.
SB 99: Dental Amalgam Waste Act (Wirth)
SB 99 is a simple measure that merely requires dental offices to remove dental amalgam—composed of highly-toxic mercury—before it is discharged in sewer systems. SB 99 passed the Senate (38-2) and passed the House (63-6) and was signed by the Governor on April 5, 2013.
SB 101: Energy Conservation Bonds (Wirth)
SB 101 would help fund and advance energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean fuels and efficient transportation projects by requiring the state to allocate energy conservation bonds to large cities and counties. These bonds were established under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, and the federal government covers the interest on the bonds through a tax credit—meaning there is no cost to the state, although New Mexicans reap the benefits of the projects. SB 101 passed the Senate (36-0) and passed the House (64-0) and was signed by the Governor on March 27, 2013.
SB 163: Change Board and Commission Sunset Dates (Cisneros)
SB 163 extends seven board and commission expiration or “sunset” dates, including the Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC). The WQCC is set to sunset on July 1, 2013. The WQCC is the only entity in New Mexico authorized to enact rules pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act or to set water quality standards. The Commission also approves variances for water quality regulations and hears appeals of water pollution permits. After a long and complicated fight in both chambers, efforts to sunset the WQCC in 2013 failed. If signed by the Governor, the WQCC’s expiration or “sunset” will be extended to 2019. SB 163 passed the Senate (42-0) and passed the House (63-4) and was signed by the Governor on April 4, 2013.
SB 268: Fertilizer Act Terms & Penalties (Woods)
SB 268 would help prevent the distribution of fertilizers that harm beneficial plant life, animals, aquatic life, soil or water—especially when clear instructions and warnings are not provided on product labels. SB 268 passed the Senate (38-0) and passed the House (61-0) and was signed by the Governor on April 2, 2013.
SB 479: Adequate Subdivision Water Supplies (Wirth)
SB 479 protects our limited water supplies from “double dipping”. Currently, large landowners and developers can sever water rights from a property and sell them off at high market values, while constructing major subdivisions that rely entirely on domestic wells for their water supplies. Because domestic wells don’t require a water right, it’s a legal ‘loophole’ that enables double-dipping. SB 479 passed the Senate (35-4) and passed the House (55-13) and was signed by the Governor on April 4, 2013.
SB 480: Subdivision Water Permits (Wirth)
SB 480 strengthens State Engineer evaluation of water availability for new subdivisions by reducing the assessment threshold from 20 parcels or more to 10 parcels or more, where any one of these parcels is less than 2 acres in size. At the same time, the bill makes subdivision water permits from the State Engineer mandatory, and prevents the State Engineer from basing a permit on water supply from domestic wells, which cumulatively may impair senior water rights holders. SB 480 passed the Senate (30-10) and passed the House (41-25) and was signed the Governor on April 5, 2013.
2) PRO-CONSERVATION legislation that passed but was not enacted
HB 40: Designation of Benefit Corporations (Cook/Keller)
HB 40 is a common-sense measure that allows corporations to voluntarily designate themselves as “benefit corporations,” which gives them greater latitude of purpose than simple profit maximization. Benefit corporations can include social and environmental benefits in their purposes, and HB 40 specifies certain responsibilities for reporting and accountability. Protections in the bill ensure that individual shareholders can opt out at the time of designation and receive payment for their shares, and the bill also limits liability if the corporation fails to achieve its stated social or environmental purposes. HB 40 passed the House (62-3) and passed the Senate (33-6) but was pocket vetoed by the Governor.
SB 7: Tax Expenditure & Revenue Budget & Reporting (Keller/Varela)
A measure similar to SB 7 passed overwhelmingly in 2011, but was vetoed by Governor Martinez. Like that bill, SB 7 requires the preparation of an annual ‘tax expenditure budget,’ detailing the real costs of all tax expenditures—including credits, exemptions, deductions, and more. With this information, the legislature will have the appropriate tool to make sound decisions about which tax expenditures are achieving their objectives, and which should be repealed. SB 7 passed the Senate (37-0) and passed the House (58-10) but was vetoed by the Governor on April 5, 2013.
SB 315: City or County Comprehensive Plans (O’Neill)
New Mexico counties and municipalities lag behind their counterparts around the country in utilizing comprehensive plans to accomplish the long-term goals of their community. SB 315 provides local governments with some structure for the comprehensive planning process, and clarifies the role of a Planning Commission in crafting, approving and implementing the plan. SB 315 passed the Senate (32-9) and passed the House (67-0) but was pocket vetoed by the Governor.
3) PRO-CONSERVATION legislation that didn’t pass
HB 55: Hunting & Fishing Infraction Penalties (Baldonado)
In the last two years, state conservation officers have reported more than 200 cases of big game animal poaching in New Mexico. HB 55 increased the penalties for this crime, making the unlawful taking of big game animals a fourth-degree felony. The bill also expanded the type of infractions that are covered by “penalty assessments,” meaning the violator can opt to pay a fine instead of going to court. This would save conservation officers precious hours preparing for and attending unnecessary court hearings—meaning more time in the field conducting active enforcement. HB 55 passed the House (67-0) and died on the Senate calendar.
HB 108: Rules Development Requirements (Gentry/Ivey-Soto)
The product of extensive negotiations among diverse stakeholders during a prior legislative interim, HB 108 represented a consensus set of reforms to New Mexico’s administrative procedures for rulemaking. HB 108 passed the House (70-0) and died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
HB 128: Solar Facility Gross Receipts Definitions (N Salazar)
HB 128 would bolster solar energy development by expanding the existing advanced energy gross receipts tax deduction to smaller-scale solar energy generation facilities. HB 128 passed the House (64-0) and died in the Senate Finance Committee.
HB 135: Energy Efficient Home Purchase Tax Credit (Egolf)
The advantages of energy efficiency are clear: consumers save money on utility bills, all ratepayers benefit from reduced demand for new capital investments in power generation, and fewer power plant emissions means cleaner air. HB 135 encouraged energy efficiency by providing a short-term tax credit to buyers of new or renovated energy-efficient homes. HB 135 died in the House Taxation and Revenue Committee.
HB 138: MRGCD in Sunshine Portal (MP Garcia/Rue)
The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD) is a public body that controls hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water from Cochiti to San Acacia, and is funded through property assessments on landowners—only a very small percentage of whom vote in MRGCD elections. Concerns have frequently been raised about the transparency of the MRGCD, a problem that HB 138 addressed by requiring that MRGCD information (budget, large transactions, and staff salaries) be posted on the state’s Sunshine Portal. HB 138 died in the House Judiciary Committee.
HB 136: Disclosure of Fracturing Fluid Composition (Egolf)
The process of fracturing or ‘fracking’ rock formations with injections of fluids containing toxic chemicals has understandably raised concerns about contamination of ground and surface water. Given the challenges facing New Mexico, we can’t afford to take a cavalier approach to protecting the quality of our very scarce water supplies. The key to HB 136 was “right to know”: that landowners and the public should know what chemicals are being released in proximity to our water. Although the Oil Conservation Commission promulgated an industry-supported rule requiring disclosure, it is virtually useless: a non-searchable ‘database’ of thousands of pages of documents, the vast majority of which withhold information about fracking chemicals on assertions of ‘trade secrets.’ HB 136 died in the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee.
**HB 181/SB 309: Lease of Water Rights for Streamflow (Gentry; Griego)
These measures prescribed the requirements and procedure for state engineer approval of water leases for maintaining or enhancing fish and wildlife resources. HB 181 died in the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee. SB 309 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
HB 210: Homeowner Association Act (Stewart/Soules)
HB 210 would have set rules for the establishment and operation of homeowners’ associations (HOAs). One key element of the bill is the restrictions it places on HOAs that try to prevent a homeowner from implementing water conservation measures or installing solar energy apparatus. No entity should be able to interfere with an individual’s right to reduce their resource consumption and lower their utility bills. HB 210 died in the House Judiciary Committee.
HB 189: No False Statements to the Environment Dept. (Egolf)
A number of situations have arisen where entities regulated by the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) have submitted false or fraudulent information relating to their permits or activities. Unfortunately, there are few statutory deterrents for making false statements in some of these situations—which can be dangerous for our environment and public health. As originally drafted, HB 189 was too broad and carried unintended risks to the public. However, the bill sponsor and the NMED worked with advocates on alternative language that will be a committee substitute for HB 189. In it, penalties were established for making false statements to the NMED, but the bill was focused on specific problem areas: liquid waste and drinking water systems. HB 189 passed the House (65-0) and died on the Senate calendar.
**HB 259: Recover Damages for Natural Resource Injuries (Kane)
HB 259 was crafted around the “polluter pays” principle, which holds that no one should be able to damage or destroy public resources without making compensation. This measure would have allowed the state Natural Resources Trustee to pursue, within strict limits, an entity that damages resources held in trust for all New Mexicans. It maintained all current options for the state through federal law (e.g. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act or CERCLA), and prohibits double penalties. HB 259 died in the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
HB 285: Pipeline Safety Act Violation Penalties (McCamley)
Failure to comply with the state Pipeline Safety Act can jeopardize public and environmental health. HB 285 increased the civil penalties for violations by operators of intrastate oil and gas pipelines by simply referencing the similar section of federal code: no more than $100,000 for each day of a continuing violation, and a maximum of $1,000,000 for a series of related violations (increased from $25,000 and $500,000, respectively). By linking directly to the penalties in federal law, the state’s civil penalties would have adjusted automatically any time the federal code changes. HB 285 passed the House (66-0) and died on the Senate calendar.
**HB 286: Oil & Gas Financial Assurance (Chasey/M Sanchez)
Much has changed since 1935, when the Oil and Gas Act was enacted. The Act is desperately in need of modernization to reflect current realities—particularly the need to adequately enforce the oil and gas industry’s responsibility to protect crucial and declining water supplies. HB 286 would have brought New Mexico’s fines and penalties in line with surrounding states like Texas and Arizona. The legislation also corrected glaring inconsistencies between the Oil and Gas Act and other state environmental statutes, ensuring equal treatment of similar activities under state law. HB 286 died on the House floor (32-36).
HB 316: No Animal-Killing Contests (Cote)
HB 316 prohibited contests for the purposes of animal-killing, although the measure exempts fish. It would have had no effect on hunting for food or even trophies—it would simply eliminate the “contest” component, which arises on occasion when there are competitions, for example, to see who can kill the most coyotes or rattlesnakes. HB 316 died on the House floor (30-38).
**HB 335: Water Resource Testing & Damage Remedies (Egolf/M Sanchez)
While HB 136 addressed the public’s right to know which chemicals are being pumped near their water supply, HB 335 focused on monitoring to establish whether or not fracking is even a problem. In many ways, this measure protected industry, by requiring basic testing before, during and after fracking operations. If the testing doesn’t reflect any impacts from the fracking process, it would bolster the oil and gas industry’s assertions that fracking doesn’t contaminate water. However, if water testing shows the presence of chemicals associated with fracking, then the burden will be on the company to prove that they aren’t responsible for the contamination. HB 335 died in the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
HB 373: Local Gov’t Fireworks Restrictions (Kane)
With intensifying drought and wildfires, it is crucial that state and local governments have more authority to restrict the sale and use of fireworks when circumstances require it. HB 373 would have done just that, but included plenty of protections to ensure that the additional powers are exercised judiciously.
HB 373 died in the House Labor and Resources Committee.
**HB 429: Environmental Private Right of Action (Louis)
HB 429 afforded landowners or other affected parties a private right of action to pursue enforcement of environmental laws against violators or agencies who are failing to enforce existing law. An example might be the case of a rural landowner whose groundwater is at risk of contamination by a polluting company; if the state refuses to require the company to stop polluting groundwater, the landowner would have recourse in court. HB 429 died on the House floor (30-36).
HB 439: State Game Commissioner Term Limits (Taylor)
Currently, all seven members of the Game Commission are appointed by a single individual –the Governor. HB 439 would have improved the balance and diversity of the Game and Fish Commission by enabling the legislature to appoint two of the seven commissioners, and setting term limits for the length of time commissioners can serve. HB 439 died in the House Health, Government and Indian Affairs Committee.
**HB 458: Consolidated Environmental Review Act (Chasey)
By establishing a consolidated environmental review process for public-permitted or funded projects, HB 458 aimed to streamline environmental permitting, reduce costly litigation and protect public and environmental health. HB 458 died in the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
HB 464: Add Fireworks That May Be Banned (Tripp)
HB 464 expanded the type of fireworks that may be banned during a period of severe drought, reducing the risk of accidental wildfires. HB 464 died in the House Judiciary Committee.
HB 473: ABQ/Bernalillo Water Authority Board (Anderson)
The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority has not earned a reputation for transparency or responsiveness. HB 473 attempted to remedy this by changing the membership of the Board from appointed elected officials to members directly elected by the public. However, the bill should be amended to ensure that elected members reside in the service area of the utility authority. HB 473 died in House Judiciary Committee.
HB 536: Aquatic Invasive Species Control Enforcement (Clahchischilliage)
Recognizing the environmental and economic threats posed by aquatic invasive species, HB 536 amended existing statute to strengthen the state’s ability to combat the spread of aquatic invasive species, like quagga and zebra mussels, through additional enforcement strategies. HB 536 passed the House (63-3) and died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
HB 548: Car Insurance Mile-Based Rating Plans (CH Trujillo)
HB 548 required motor vehicle insurers to offer mile-based insurance policies, where drivers insure their vehicles for blocks of a certain number of miles. This is a more equitable system that eliminates the subsidy that infrequent drivers currently provide to more frequent drivers. It also creates a financial incentive to drive less. HB 548 died in the House Business and Industry Committee.
HB 551: Food Residual Recycling & Agency Report Cards (Maestas)
Nearly 25% of all material in the waste stream is food scraps and other materials that could be composted. HB 551 directed state government to expand departmental waste reduction programs to include food scrap recycling and/or composting programs. It also held the state accountable for implementing waste reduction efforts by requiring reporting on program outcomes. HB 551 passed the House (44-23) and died on the Senate calendar.
HB 558/SB 529: Water Prior Appropriation Administration (Bandy; Cervantes)
With ongoing drought, the battles over water in New Mexico are rapidly heating up. It is critical that the State Engineer tackle these challenges in a manner consistent with the constitutional doctrine of prior appropriation. HB 558 and SB 529 laid out the parameters within which the State Engineer could work to address water allocations in times of shortage—which is now the norm in virtually every part of the state. HB 558 died in the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee. SB 529 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
HB 576: Return Water Flows During Irrigation Season (Garcia Richard)
New Mexico’s rivers have suffered dramatically because of the ongoing drought. HB 576 sought to promote the availability of return flows to keep water in our rivers, and to benefit downstream agricultural users. HB 576 died in the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee. The sponsor worked collaboratively with legislators and supporters of the bill and transformed the intent of the legislation into HJM 33. The memorial passed the House (70-0) and the Senate (38-0). Memorials and resolutions do not require action by the Governor.
HB 579: NM Wildlife Protection & Public Safety Act (Gonzales)
Trapping activities pose substantial threats to public safety and wildlife, including small predators and endangered species, like the Mexican Gray Wolf. HB 579 would have made poisoning and many acts of trapping a misdemeanor for first offenders and a fourth degree felony for repeat offenders. HB 579 died in the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
HB 604: Increase Gas & Special Fuel Taxes (Gonzales)
Set at only $0.17 per gallon, New Mexico’s gas tax is clearly outdated, and does not adequately reflect the costs of maintaining our transportation infrastructure. HB 604 took a critical step by increasing the gasoline tax from $0.17 per gallon to $0.22 per gallon by July 2014, which would have resulted in additional revenues to fund critical transportation projects and other government services. HB 604 died in the House Taxation and Revenue Committee.
SB 245: Utility Info Disclosure to Customers (Candelaria)
Given the abundance of renewable energy resources in our state, it’s not surprising that many New Mexicans think we derive a greater percentage of our energy from clean sources than is actually the case. Moreover, since costs are a frequent topic of debate in the push to transition to a clean energy future, it’s critical that full-cost accounting principles be applied, so we can accurately compare the long-term costs of each fuel type. SB 245 would have taken an important step, by requiring utilities to disclose to their customers the composition of their electricity sales by fuel type and total cost.SB 245 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
SB 264: Plug-in Electric Vehicle Tax Exemption (Griego)
Electric cars save consumers fuel costs and reduce air pollution generated by petroleum-fueled vehicles. SB 264 encouraged the purchase of electric vehicles by creating a tax credit. SB 264 passed the Senate (34-6) and died in the House Taxation and Revenue Committee.
SB 356: Election Procedures & Process (Ivey-Soto)
Democracy is dependent on sound election procedures. New Mexico’s electoral process has evolved significantly over the past several election cycles, and the changes proposed in SB 356 are necessary to correct oversights, clarify intent and ensure free and fair elections. SB 356 died on the Senate calendar.
SB 394: Community Solar as Distributed Generation (Soules)
SB 394 helped bolster small-scale solar development by facilitating the development of community solar facilities, which operate similarly to a cooperative. Given the challenges of expanding energy transmission, the importance of on-site and distributed generation continues to grow. SB 394 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
SB 494: Water Prior Appropriation Rules (Cervantes)
In reality, SB 494 simply affirmed that the State Engineer must adhere to the constitutional doctrine of prior appropriation when administering water rights. Recent legal actions involving contentious water administration rules, however, made such a simple effort at clarification seem necessary, and even urgent.
SB 494 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
SB 527: Increase & Index Gas & Special Fuels Taxes (Smith)
Set at only $0.17 per gallon, New Mexico’s gas tax is clearly outdated, and does not adequately reflect the costs of maintaining our transportation infrastructure. SB 527 takes a critical step by increasing the gasoline tax from $0.17 per gallon to $0.27 per gallon by 2024, resulting in additional revenues to fund critical transportation projects and other government services. SB 527 passed the Senate Finance Committee but it was never reported out.
SB 547: Ban Horizontal Oil & Gas Fracturing (Soules)
More than 90% of New Mexicans are dependent on groundwater for their drinking water. With growing pressures on our dwindling water supplies, it is more crucial than ever that we protect our water resources from contamination. Unfortunately, hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ in oil and gas production is exempt from the US Safe Drinking Water Act—despite the use of hundreds of chemicals that are poorly documented or understood in terms of health impacts. Until fracking can be proven safe—through objective, rigorous scientific experimentation—banning the practice or imposing a moratorium are perfectly appropriate. Note that SB 547 only banned fracking associated with horizontal drilling, a method that greatly increases the volume of chemicals injected near our aquifers. SB 547 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
SB 563: Export of Water from Critical Management Area (Beffort)
SB 563 would have protected scarce water resources and rural communities by restricting the State Engineer from authorizing the transfer of water out of a basin that has been designated as a critical management area (CMA). SB 563 died on the Senate calendar.
4) ANTI-CONSERVATION legislation that passed
A number of measures posed great risks to New Mexico’s natural resources – by subsidizing polluters, removing regulations, or encouraging activities that threaten our environment. We urged all of our Representatives and Senators to OPPOSE these bills, and we are pleased to report that they were DEFEATED.
HM 21: Preserve Prairie Chicken to Oppose Listing (Ezzell)
The federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides key protections for vulnerable, threatened, and endangered species, like the lesser prairie chicken. The Act also provides states with funding to assist with endangered species program implementation. While the goal of protecting the lesser prairie chicken without federal intervention is laudable, the language resolving opposition to federal listing of the species raises concerns. If the lesser prairie chicken is sufficiently protected through private and local actions, then the issue of federal listing becomes moot: no listing will be necessary. However, security of the species must be demonstrated first. Opposing federal listing before the species has adequate populations, habitat and protections to ensure long-term viability is woefully premature. Moreover, should resources be necessary to support regional and local protection efforts, that funding may best be secured through ESA listing. HM 21 passed the House (39-28). Memorials and resolutions do not require action by the Governor.
5) ANTI-CONSERVATION legislation that didn’t pass
HB 94: Water Use Planning Period (Cote)
The existing 40-year water planning period—which allows designated entities to acquire water rights they won’t put to beneficial use for up to 40 years—holds the potential for abuse. In a water-scarce state like New Mexico, the ability for anyone to engage in water speculation is cause for serious concern. Current statute allows designated entities to acquire water rights and hold them for decades, after which there is no prohibition on their transfer or resale. CVNM has consistently supported the insertion of anti-speculative language in current law. As initially drafted, HB 94 would have increased the potential for abuse by expanding the 40-year water period to any publicly-regulated water utility. CVNM worked with the sponsor and proponents to insert anti-speculative language and as a result we withdrew our opposition.
HB 149: Light Bulb Mercury Exposure Dangers (Anderson)
Although educating the public about the dangers of mercury is important, HB 149 was essentially a red herring—focusing on an insignificant source of mercury (in CFLs), the risks of which are negligible compared to the benefits of reduced carbon emissions. By far the biggest sources of mercury in New Mexico—and therefore the more dangerous threats to our health—are coal-fired power plants. If HB 149 represented a genuine effort to educate New Mexicans about the risks of mercury, it would focus on the most significant sources of mercury exposure: coal-fired power plants. HB 149 died in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.
HB 163/SB 175: Utility Company First Right of Refusal (Brown; Leavell)
HB 163 and SB 175 sought to give public utilities an unfair advantage in constructing transmission facilities, regardless of whether an independent entity had already invested significant resources in the project and could construct it more cheaply. The impact would have be detrimental to consumers and the renewable energy industry. At least six different renewable energy transmission projects are being developed in New Mexico—all by independent entities. HB 163 and SB 175 could have prevented some of these projects from proceeding, and deter future projects from being proposed.HB 163 and SB 175 were substituted to address our concerns and CVNM withdrew our opposition.
HB 238/SB 234: NM Chile Advertising Act Violations (RS Martinez; Munoz)
HB 238 and SB 234 seek to prevent out-of-state chile products from falsely portraying a New Mexico origin. While the intent of this legislation is positive, HB 238 and SB 234 would place undue burden on New Mexico’s small chile farmers by prohibiting the labeling of chile by its seed name — such as Isleta or Chimayo — unless they register with the NM Department of Agriculture. As a result, small farms would have to comply with chile farming regulations drafted for large industrial farms and processers, a huge burden for a small farmer. HB 238 and SB 234 were substituted to address our concerns and CVNM withdrew our opposition. The substitute bill for HB 238 was signed by the Governor on April 1, 2013 and the substitute for SB 234 was signed by the Governor on April 5, 2013.
HB 242: PRC Jurisdiction over NM RETA Projects (McCamley)
The purpose of HB 242 was to expedite the siting and development of renewable energy transmission facilities in New Mexico. As introduced, it contained some problematic language that might have unintentionally deterred renewable energy production and transmission. The sponsor worked with CVNM and various constituencies to resolve concerns. The amended version of HB 242 focused the Renewable Energy Transmission Authority on identifying and facilitating the development of renewable energy transmission corridors. It would have expedited renewable energy transmission by simplifying the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) process while ensuring that reliability standards are met. The appropriation was amended out of the bill, making it ineffective. HB 242 passed the House (35-31). HB 242 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
**HB 266: Renewable Energy Procurement Limits (Strickler)
The renewable portfolio standard (RPS) prompts utilities to diversify their energy production by investing in renewable energy sources like wind and solar, and holds them accountable to meet modest thresholds. The RPS includes a provision called “reasonable cost threshold,” which ensures that customers’ bills won’t change dramatically as a result of utilities complying with the standard. HB 266 inserted an additional, unnecessary and exceedingly complex cost consideration—attempting to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. Long-term, of course, all New Mexican consumers will benefit from the RPS: saving money from the avoided costs of new power plant construction, as well as the reduced health care costs resulting from cleaner air and water. HB 266 died in the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
**HB 267: Utility Energy Efficiency & Load Management (Strickler)
The Efficient Use of Energy Act (EUEA) requires public utilities to implement all cost-effective energy efficiency programs, resulting in reduced energy demand and cost-savings for consumers. In fact, the efficiency programs of PNM, Xcel Energy and El Paso Electric implemented between 2008 and 2011 saved consumers over $190 million. HB 267 would have stripped the EUEA of the requirement to conduct all cost-effective efficiency measures, based on an arbitrary 3% cost cap. This would significantly weaken the Act, ultimately causing much higher utility bills in the future as failure to curb energy demand spurs the need to construct more power plants. Simply put: it’s cheaper to save energy than to make energy. In the shorter term, reducing investment in energy efficiency programs disproportionately hurts lower-income New Mexicans who directly benefit from them. The bill was amended to address our concerns and as a result, we were supportive. HB 267 as amended passed the House (65-2) and passed the Senate (38-0) and was signed by the Governor on April 2, 2013.
**HB 292/SB 404: Transfer of Public Land Act (Herrell/RC Martinez; Woods)
The U.S. Constitution provides for the federal government to manage, maintain and control federal public lands. HB 292 and SB 404 attempted to violate the constitution by usurping federal authority and transferring oversight of federal public lands to the state. HB 292 died in the House Health, Government and Indian Affairs Committee. SB 404 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
HB 307: No Policies from UN Rio Declaration (Anderson)
HB 307 purported to protect New Mexico from the adoption of unconstitutional policies derived from the United Nations Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. However, if a policy violates the federal or state constitution, it is illegal, and it wouldn’t survive a court challenge, in the unlikely event it made it through the legislative or administrative process. Furthermore, the bill demonizes legitimate global environmental organizations, including the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). HB 307 died in the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
HB 382: Boat Act Penalties & State Park Penalties (Strickler)
From leash laws to liquid waste disposal, the State Parks division has established a wide array of park rules to protect the public interest. HB 382 could have undermined the severity of certain park rule infractions by allowing violators to pay a flat $75 penalty assessment fee for all park rule violations instead of facing stricter penalties in court. For many infractions, this is appropriate, and would free up enforcement hours that officers would otherwise spend in court. However, the blanket nature of this provision meant that very serious offenses would be limited to the $75 fine. Instead, this legislation should be amended to set penalty assessments for a predetermined list of minor infractions only. HB 382 was substituted to address our concerns and CVNM withdrew our opposition.
**HB 405: Public-Private Partnerships Act (Larranaga/Keller)
Similar to SB 273, but far more sweeping in the types of public projects and resources that could be privatized (e.g. dams, reservoirs, water treatment plants, utility infrastructure, etc.); HB 405 would have facilitated private control of projects that are most appropriately operated by responsive public entities. Experiences by other governments in privatizing public services (e.g. transportation, education, public safety) have rarely been successful, usually resulting in higher costs, lower quality and expensive legal battles in the long-term. HB 405 passed the House (50-19) and died in the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee.
HB 571/SB 533: DFA Cost-Benefit Analysis of Agency Rules (Brown/Rue)
Cost-benefit analyses are important tools for decision-making, especially in circumstances when the long-term costs and benefits of proposed rules are not apparent. H B571 and SB 533 directed the Department of Finance to conduct biased and inaccurate analyses by reporting only on the expected benefits (consumer, environmental, and economic) of a rule. To assist agencies with informed decision-making, analyses should present all sides of a proposed or existing rule—including full long-term costs and benefits. HB 571 died in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee. After concerns were raised by opponents of the legislation, the Senate sponsor withdrew SB 533.
HB 577: Publication of Legal Notices (Garcia Richard)
HB 577 attempted to allow publication of legal notices on a website controlled and maintained by a New Mexico nonprofit association as an alternative to newspapers. However, large percentages of New Mexicans do not have internet access, making the notices less visible to the public. In addition, there would be no notice in printed publications of updates to the website, meaning it would be unlikely the public would become aware of important decisions impacting their community. After concerns were raised, the sponsor withdrew HB 577.
HB 616: Alternative Fuel Vehicle Tax Credits (Egolf)
The natural gas industry has done a remarkable job of marketing their product as “clean fuel.” Unfortunately, with environmental damages wreaked by fracking, natural gas is not nearly as clean as producers would like us to think. Moreover, some recent peer-reviewed research on the climate impacts of natural gas (see: http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2011/04/fracking-leaks-may-make-gas-dirtier-coal) drew some startling conclusions: natural gas from shale deposits may not be much, if any, more climate-friendly than oil. It is at best imprudent to invest precious tax dollars in a technology infrastructure that relies on fossil fuels with questionable environmental merit —especially when the availability of that very infrastructure may well induce a longer-term dependence than desired. Instead, we should be focused on transitioning to truly clean transportation technologies. HB 616 died in the House Taxation and Revenue Committee.
SB 120: Exclude Humate as Mineral in Mining Act (Munoz)
SB 120 would have excluded humate mining from the state Mining Act, leaving regulation of reclamation, air quality, and operation for current and future mining to rules set by the State Land Office. However, mining conducted on private land would not fall under the jurisdiction of the State Land Office, creating a loophole in which reclamation would not be required for those mines. SB 120 died on the Senate calendar.
**SB 193: Water Quality Control Commissioners (Griego)
By law, the Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) sunsets this year, and it is important that the Commission be extended, as SB 193 proposed. However, SB 193 also dramatically weakened the WQCC by altering the composition of the committee—removing much of the health and technical expertise, and stacking it towards industry-allied agencies. SB 193 died in the Senate Rules Committee.
**SB 194/HB 652: No Agriculture as a Nuisance (Griego; Dodge)
Taking defense of unlawful polluters to the extreme, SB 194 proposed to exempt illegal, improper and negligent agricultural operations from nuisance laws.
SB 194 died on the Senate calendar. HB 652 died in the House Judiciary Committee.
**SB 204: Renewable Energy Certificates for Thermal (Griego)
New Mexico is already losing ground to competing states on our renewable energy standards (renewable portfolio standard, or RPS). SB 204 sought to dilute New Mexico’s RPS by offering double-credit for energy derived from forest-based biomass, which would reduce the overall percentage of renewable energy needed to meet the standards. This is particularly problematic because biomass is the least climate-friendly energy source authorized under the RPS. SB 204 passed the Senate (28-10) and died in the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
**SB 273: Transportation Public-Private Partnerships (Keller/Cook)
SB 273 was a sweeping measure to privatize transportation facilities that are most appropriately developed and maintained by public entities. Experiences by other governments in privatizing public services (e.g. transportation, education, public safety) have rarely been successful, usually resulting in higher costs, lower quality and expensive legal battles in the long-term. Among many concerns with this legislation was that it would exempt such transportation projects from the state procurement code, and allow government to exercise the power of eminent domain for use by private partners. SB 273 died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
SB 308: Outfitter as State Game Commission Member (Griego)
The state Game Commission makes important decisions on a wide variety of issues that impact all New Mexicans across the state—but they particularly affect certain constituency groups, including hunters and anglers. SB 308 would have earmark one seat on the game commission for an outfitter: someone regulated by the commission who represents a very small fraction of the stakeholders affected by the commission’s decisions. Worse, outfitters are more likely to reflect the wishes of their out-of-state clients than the needs of New Mexican hunters, anglers and other residents. The sponsor withdrew SB 308 in the Senate Conservation Committee.
SB 314: Transportation Reinvestment Zone Act (Shendo)
SB 314 was a variant of tax increment for development districts (TIDDs), with which this legislature has struggled over the years. In this version, private developers are no longer formal applicants for financing bonds—it would now be the purview of local governments. However, the result of this measure would still have been a massive transfer of state gross receipts tax revenues from the general fund (critical operation and maintenance costs) to local projects best funded through bond issues or severance taxes. Moreover, the bill had no restrictions on the geography of a reinvestment zone, so it would almost certainly have been used to fund infrastructure for major sprawl developments, which underwrites the costs for which developers would otherwise have to contribute.SB 314 died in the Senate Finance Committee.
SB 374: No Biodiesel Requirement in Diesel Fuel (Griego)
This bill sought to roll back the progress made in New Mexico by our renewable energy and clean fuel industries. SB 374 would have completely eliminated the requirement that diesel fuel contain a small percentage (5%) of biodiesel. When the biodiesel requirement first passed, the legislature was careful to include a safety valve: in the case of shortages or price increases of biodiesel, the administration has the discretionary authority to suspend the requirement. There is therefore no justification for repealing the requirement entirely. The sponsor withdrew SB 374 in the Senate Conservation Committee.
SB 440: Lower Rio Grande Water Rights (Cervantes)
SB 440 appropriated $120 million for the Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) to acquire, retire, protect and conserve water rights in the Lower Rio Grande—ostensibly to assist with compact compliance. Although some elements of the bill were commendable, a number of glaring omissions raised concerns. There was no recognition of the need to improve river ecosystem health, employ demand management tools, or broaden the stakeholders involved in the process. Of particular concern was the blanket provision for importation of water, with no constraints or restrictions. SB 440 was substituted and the substantive language was removed, leaving only an appropriation. The appropriation was not included in the budget.
**SB 463: State Preemption of Local Oil & Gas Laws (Cisneros)
Counties and municipalities have the power to adopt local ordinances that best suit community needs and interests. To date, some communities have passed ordinances restricting oil and gas production in response to concerns of water contamination and health risks. SB 463 would have invalidated any county and municipality ordinance relating to oil and gas law, removing the critical flexibility that communities need to protect the public interest on a local scale. SB 463 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
SB 552: Livestock Operation Interference Act (Pirtle)
SB 552 made interfering with, recording, or taping agricultural operations, without the consent of the facility owner or operator, a misdemeanor. As drafted, it was not clear if SB 552 applies to agricultural activities, like grazing, conducted on public lands. As a result, SB 552 could have prevented the public from collecting evidence of activities that result in water contamination, land degradation, and other harm on public lands. SB 552 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
HJR 1: NM Sovereignty Under 10th Amendment (Roch)
HJR1 was an aggressive measure that demands an unconstitutional redefinition of the relationship between the state and federal government. In addition, it charged the federal government with violating the constitution—and claims recourse by attempting to overturn duly-adopted federal laws. If, in fact, the federal government has violated our constitution—as asserted in HJR1—the proper recourse is through the court system, not a sweeping attempt to usurp federal power. HJR 1 died in the House Health, Government and Indian Affairs Committee.
SJM 26: Study Exporting Coal (Sapien)
From toxic levels of mercury in our waterways to global warming, the consequences of using coal as an energy source are obvious. By pushing a coal export study, SJM 26 sought to offset the environmental gains of reduced reliance on coal here in the US with the potential of exporting coal—with all of its associated public health and environmental damages—to Asia. SJM 26 would have been better-suited to exploring ways to stimulate the Navajo economy outside of continued coal mining, including solar and other renewable energy development. SJM 26 died on the Senate calendar.
SJM 56/SM 93: Study Transfer of Federal Lands (Sharer)
The U.S. Constitution provides for the federal government to manage, maintain and control federal public lands. SJM 56 and SM 93 requested that the Legislative Finance Committee examine the idea of transferring federal lands to state control and the Commissioner of Public Lands to pursue the transfer of federal disposal lands to state control. Transferring public lands to the state violates the constitution by usurping federal authority. SJM 56 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
HM 96: Erosion of Sovereignty & Property Ownership (Anderson)
HM 96 purported to protect New Mexico from the adoption of unconstitutional policies derived from the United Nations Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. However, if a policy violates the federal or state constitution, it is illegal, and it wouldn’t survive a court challenge in the unlikely event it made it through the legislative or administrative process. Furthermore, the measure demonized legitimate global environmental organizations, including the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). HM 96 died on the House calendar.
Resolutions, Memorials & Appropriations:
Many pro-conservation resolutions, memorials and appropriations are introduced each session. CVNM may have expressed support for such measures during hearings, but there were too many to list individually on our regular legislative agenda. Therefore, this year CVNM only included joint resolutions for conservation-related constitutional amendments.
We still listed anti-conservation resolutions, memorials, and appropriations that we opposed, and votes on those measures may be incorporated into our scorecard.