CVNM’s 2015 Legislative Priorities: Results from the 2015 Legislative Session
Results from 2015 Legislative Session
For the 11th year in a row, CVNM and our allies defeated 100% of the anti-conservation bills on our agenda.
This memo 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, Senators and the Governor to SUPPORT these measures:
HB 155: Lobbyist Employer Registration (Steinborn)
HB 155 increases transparency by strengthening the reporting and disclosure requirements for lobbyists. The bill would also require lobbyist employers to report the sum total of all estimated lobbying expenses—including lobbyist compensation and expenditures—supplemented by a report of actual expenses incurred during the reporting period. This bill was amended to require the Secretary of State to maintain lobbyist registrations and reports in searchable and downloadable formats, publish lobbyist registrations within five days, retain lobbyist records online for 10 years and increases lobbyist registration fees from $25 to $50. CVNM remained supportive. HB 155 passed the House (63-0) and passed the Senate (32-4) and was signed by the Governor on April 7, 2015.
SB 231: Outdoor Recreation & Wildlife Volunteers (Shendo)
During a time when state agencies and departments are strained by tightening budgets, volunteer capacity becomes more and more important to ensure that their missions can be achieved. SB 231 allows the State Game Commission to adopt rules to recruit, train and accept the services of volunteers for education and outreach activities, hunter and angler services and wildlife conservation activities administered by the Department of Game and Fish. SB 231 passed the Senate (38-0) and passed the House (61-0) and was signed by the Governor on April 3, 2015.
2) Pro-Conservation legislation that passed but was not enacted
We urged all of our Representatives and Senators to SUPPORT these measures:
SB 94: Industrial Hemp Farming Act (McSorley)
Industrial hemp is an incredibly versatile, fast-growing and drought-resistant agricultural product that requires virtually no pesticides or herbicides. It can be used to produce paper, textiles, plastics, fuel and food products, and has proven very profitable for farmers in other countries. This bill would provide for licensing of the growing, selling and processing of industrial hemp in New Mexico. SB 94 passed the Senate (33-8) and passed the House (54-12) but was vetoed by the Governor on April 10, 2015.
SB 391: Extend Solar Market Development Tax Credit (Stewart)
SB 391 would have extended the existing 10% tax credit for the installation of commercial, residential and agricultural solar systems, which is set to expire December 31, 2016. This 10% tax credit has helped many New Mexicans invest in solar energy for their homes, businesses and farms, improving the environment and public health by reducing the demand for coal-fired electricity. SB 391 passed the Senate (37-5) and passed the House (39-24) but was pocket vetoed by the Governor.
3) Pro-Conservation legislation that didn’t pass
HB 12: Water Budget Rate Structures (McCamley)
HB 12 would have required all public water systems to adopt and maintain a “water budget rate structure” as a condition of receiving support from the New Mexico Environment Department for water system financing. This would have been a positive step towards minimizing water waste by residential consumers. HB 12 died in the House Agriculture, Wildlife and Water Committee.
HB 27: Employment of Former PRC Employees (Egolf)
HB 27 was a common-sense measure that would have leveled the playing field and enhanced public confidence in the integrity of our regulatory system by requiring that, in addition to former Public Regulation Commissioners (PRC), certain high-level PRC employees who enter into the private sector are subject to a two-year “cooling off period” before they can be employed or retained by an entity, affiliated interest or intervener regulated by the PRC. HB 27 passed the House (44-19) and died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
HB 58: Increase Gas Tax For State Road Fund (Gonzales)
HB 58 would have created a fund for major highway projects, and would temporarily increase taxes on gasoline and the special fuel excise tax as a revenue stream for the new fund. Gas taxes are one way of ensuring that the costs of vehicle-miles-traveled (VMTs)—such as air pollution, the impacts of extraction and refining industries, and climate change—are offset to at least a small degree. Roads are more heavily subsidized by taxpayers than transit, an inequity that should be addressed over time. HB 58 died in the House Transportation and Public Works Committee.
HB 62: Voter Registration Info Verification (Smith/Ivey-Soto)
HB 62 would have authorized the Secretary of State to exchange voter registration information with other states so that the voter file is updated and voter information is more accurate. It would have also informed county clerks of best practices to help safeguard eligible voters from erroneous removal. HB 62 passed the House (65-0) and died in the Senate Judiciary Committee. However, provisions of this bill were combined into an omnibus elections bill SB 643, which also provides for online voter registration and provisions for overseas and military voters. CVNM supported SB 643 both in committee and on the floor. SB 643 passed the Senate (34-0) and the House (64-0). The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk.
HB 70: Extend Solar Market Development Tax Credit (Stapleton)
HB 70 would have extended the existing 10% tax credit for the installation of commercial, residential and agricultural solar systems which is set to expire December 31, 2016. This 10% tax credit has helped many New Mexicans invest in solar energy for their homes, businesses and farms, improving the environment and public health by reducing the demand for coal-fired electricity. HB 70 died in the House Ways and Means Committee.
HB 111: Shared Renewable Energy Facility Operations (Gonzales)
HB 111 would have authorized community solar or other shared renewable projects, where customers can jointly invest in a project that realizes economies of scale, and offers the benefits of clean energy and utility bill savings to a broader range of New Mexicans. HB 111 died in the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
HB 114: No False Statements to 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. In HB 114, penalties would have been established for making false statements to the NMED but the bill was focused on specific problem areas: liquid waste and drinking water systems. HB 114 died in House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee.
HB 115: State Ethics Commission Act (Egolf)
HB 115 would have established an 11-member State Ethics Commission to investigate complaints against state officials and employees, government contractors and lobbyists. New Mexico lags behind other states in formal processes to enforce ethics rules. This measure would have started to remedy that deficiency while helping counter the public’s rather dim view of government integrity. HB 115 died in the House Judiciary Committee.
HB 150: Voter Registration & Early Voting Sites (Steinborn)
Democracy thrives when more people participate in the process. On-site, same-day voter registration is one step in promoting greater civic engagement. HB 150 would have authorized same-day registration for early voting sites which is a significant step in encouraging new voters. HB 150 died in the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee.
HB 154: Local Gov’t Review of Business Leases (Steinborn)
HB 154 sought to provide needed oversight and transparency for state land business leases by requiring that the affected local government(s) review them and make appropriate recommendations before the Commissioner of Public Lands can finalize them. HB 154 died in the House Business and Employment Committee.
HB 151: Primary Voting for Some 17 Year-Olds (Steinborn)
HB 151 would have allowed 17 year-olds who will be 18 in time for the general election to vote in their party’s primary election—enabling them to participate in the process of determining the candidates for whom they will vote in November. HB 151 passed the House (47-19) and died on the Senate calendar.
HB 157: Water Project Fund Money for Conservation (McCamley)
HB 157 would have required that a minimum of 20% of loans and grants made from the water project fund be directed to water conservation projects. The bill emphasized the importance of conservation in our water-scarce state, especially given the growing impacts of climate change, such as prolonged drought and intensifying wildfires. HB 157 died in the House Agriculture, Water and Wildlife Committee.
HB 179: Severance Fund Investment in Renewable Energy (Stapleton)
HB 179 would have required that a minimum of 1% of the severance tax permanent fund be invested in New Mexico renewable energy businesses, projects, bonds or funds. Renewable energy is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy, and this measure would have benefited New Mexico businesses and the health of the permanent fund, while helping tackle climate change. HB 179 died in the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
HB 186: Pesticide Application Notices (McQueen)
HB 186 would have required notice of pesticide application in public buildings or on public grounds, except those used for commercial agriculture. This “right to know” measure would have helped protect public health and ensure that people can take the proper precautions to prevent pesticide exposure. HB 186 died in the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
HB 188: Sand & Gravel Mining Violation Penalties (Smith/Sapien)
HB 188 would have strengthened penalties for violation of county ordinances regulating the mining of sand, gravel and related materials. Currently, these are some of the more poorly-regulated and least-enforced extractive industries. HB 188 died in the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
HB 241/SB 512: Public Officials as Lobbyists (Dines; O’Neill)
HB 241 and SB 512 would have prohibited a former statewide elected official, public regulation commissioner, state legislator or a former cabinet secretary from accepting a position as paid lobbyist for a period of two years after leaving office. This would increase transparency and the public’s trust in government. HB 241 passed the House (57-10) and died in the Senate Rules Committee. SB 512 died in the Senate Rules Committee.
HB 249: 16 Year-Olds Voting in School Elections (J. Martinez)
HB 249 would have helped create a culture of voting from an early age by making 16 years the minimum voting age for school elections—the public offices that most directly impact them at that age. Moreover, our education system will benefit from greater attention on school elections, including by the students themselves. HB 249 died in the House Judiciary Committee.
HB 252: Post-Secondary School Voter Registration (Steinborn)
HB 252 would have required that voter registration be made available at all public post-secondary educational institutions, expanding access to the democratic process to young would-be voters. HB 252 died in the House Education Committee.
HB 278/SB 384: Campaign Finance Disclosure (Smith/Wirth)
HB 278 and SB 384 would have increased transparency in election spending by independent groups whose contributions are often anonymous by imposing the same requirement to disclose contributions and expenditures currently required of candidates and political parties. With their growing influence in elections, it is important that New Mexicans know who is funding these groups. HB 278 died in the House Judiciary Committee. SB 384 died in the Senate Rules Committee.
HB 317: Alternate Voting Locations (K. Martinez)
HB 317 would have helped provide voters in rural areas of New Mexico the same opportunity to vote early that urban area voters receive, by ensuring that alternate voting locations are available in population centers of more than 1,500 voters that are more than fifty miles away from an existing location. HB 317 passed the House (52-4) and died in the Senate Rules Committee.
HB 331: ABQ-Bernalillo Water Authority Board Election (Romero)
Currently, members of the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority are appointed in a manner that leaves some taxpayers without a representative on a powerful board that is supposed to be accountable to them. HB 331 attempted to remedy this by changing the membership of the Board from appointed elected officials to members directly elected by the public. HB 331 died in the House Agriculture, Water and Wildlife Committee.
HB 378: Require Oral Public Comment at Meetings (Smith/Ivey Soto)
HB 378 would have helped ensure that public decision making bodies hear the views and concerns of their constituents by requiring that a public body permit oral public comment before final action on any matter regarding formulation of public policy. HB 378 passed the House (66-0) and died in the Senate Public Affairs Committee.
HB 392: Audio & Video Stream of Public Body Meetings (Fajardo)
HB 392 helped ensure that state government is open and accessible to New Mexicans. HB 392 would have given greater ability for the public to engage in important deliberations affecting them by requiring that boards, commissions, and other policymaking bodies, such as the Water Quality Control Commission, provide an online live video and audio broadcast of their public meetings. HB 392 died in the House Judiciary Committee.
HB 405: Same-Day Voter Registration (McCamley/Candelaria)
HB 405 would have helped increase access to the ballot box and ensure that every eligible New Mexican has the opportunity to exercise their constitutional right to vote. HB 405 authorized same-day registration at early voting sites for people who are eligible but not registered and allows for them to cast a provisional ballot. HB 405 died in the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee.
HB 426: 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 426 would have made poisoning and many acts of trapping a misdemeanor for first offenders and a fourth degree felony for repeat offenders. HB 426 died in the House Agriculture, Water and Wildlife Committee.
HB 494/SB 610: Community Health Study Fund & Uranium Mining (Louis; Shendo)
Pollution, like legacy waste sites from uranium mining, not only endangers natural resources but also poses severe risks to public health. However, there is currently no process in place to study the impacts that environmental degradation has on the quality of health over time. HB 494 and SB 610 began to address this by creating a community health study fund, paid for by fines assessed to companies directly responsible for contamination. HB 494 died in the House Health Committee. SB 610 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
HB 548: Gas Pipelines & Eminent Domain Power (McQueen)
HB 548 would have removed the ability for carbon dioxide pipelines to use eminent domain to implement siting. This measure protected private property owners and communities from the possible negative environmental consequences these pipeline projects often carry with them. HB 548 died in the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
HB 549: Limit Eminent Domain for Pipelines (McQueen)
HB 549 limited the ability to use eminent domain for pipeline siting to those pipelines that transport oil and gas or carbon dioxide of which at least 75% is processed in, produced or used in New Mexico. Pipelines whose sole beneficiaries are out of state should not have the ability to exercise eminent domain for these environmentally costly projects. HB 549 died in the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
SB 73: Landowner Taking or Killing Animals on Land (Soules)
Under current law, landowners can kill any wildlife if they pose an immediate threat to life, property or crops. SB 73 would have clarified that an immediate threat of damage to property does not include damage to crops or pastures by grazing. It would have also require that a landowner or lessee notify the Department of Game and Fish regarding animals that present a threat of damage to crops or pastures in accordance with regulations adopted by the State Game Commission. SB 73 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
SB 90: Removal From Office for Felony Conviction (Moores)
Currently, the constitution requires that elected officials be removed from office after a felony conviction. SB 90 proposed to expand that requirement to cabinet secretaries and appointees to public boards and commissions. This would have helped restore public trust and integrity that is lost when public officials commit a felony offense. However, the bill should be amended to be consistent with the state constitution, which applies to all public officeholders, not just state elected officials. SB 90 died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
SB 96: Voluntary Designation as Benefit Corporation (McSorley)
SB 96 was 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 SB 96 specified 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. The bill also limited liability if the corporation fails to achieve its stated social or environmental purposes. SB 96 died in the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee.
SB 192: Special Prosecutor for Election Violations (Ivey-Soto/Smith)
SB 192 would have the district attorney appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Election Code or Municipal Election Code violations. This would have helped ensure that elections violations are being properly investigated. SB 192 died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
SB 197: High School Water Conservation Program (Padilla)
SB 197 would have created the High School Water Management and Conservation Program Pilot Project as a two-year pilot project that creates a one-credit high school elective course. The class would have covered basic principles of water management and conservation and provide a stepping stone for high school students who seek to enter into the work force or into vocational or academic programs in a subject area that is vital to the future of New Mexico. SB 197 died in the Senate Education Committee.
SB 215: Narrow Landowner Animal Taking or Killing (Soules)
Under current law, landowners can kill any wildlife if they pose an immediate threat to life, property or crops. SB 215 would have restricted that authority with respect to property damage, requiring landowners to attempt state-supported intervention for a minimum of one year before lethal action is permitted. SB 215 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
SB 253: Prohibit & Define Coyote Killing Contest (Moores/Steinborn)
SB 253 prohibited contests for the purposes of coyote killing. It would have had no effect on hunting for fur or even trophies—it would simply eliminate the “contest” component, which arises when there are competitions, for example, to see who can kill the most coyotes. SB 253 died in the House Agriculture, Water and Wildlife Committee.
SB 260: Election of Water Trust Board Chair (Candelaria)
SB 260 would have required that the elected chair of the Water Trust Board be one of the board’s five public members, as opposed to an appointed official. This would have enhanced public oversight and participation in the functions of this critical board, rather than ceding too much discretion to agency representatives. SB 260 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
SB 277: Local Government Comprehensive Plans (Stewart)
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 277 provided local governments with some structure for the comprehensive planning process, and clarified the role of a Planning Commission in crafting, approving and implementing the plan. SB 277 passed Senate (20-7) and died in the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee.
SB 330: Agricultural Use of Land for Taxes (Wirth)
SB 330 would have expanded the definition of agricultural land for the purpose of property tax valuation. The definition expansion would have included land that improves the capacity to support agriculture, land that provides ecological services for public benefit through land management practices that promote soil and water conservation, forest and rangeland health and critical wildlife habitats. SB 330 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
SB 419: Cabinet Secretary Evaluation Act (M. Sanchez)
SB 419 would have created a much-needed objective evaluation system for cabinet secretaries and their agencies, such as the Environment Department, to ensure that they are acting in a way that meets the public need. SB 419 died in the Senate Public Affairs Committee.
SB 455: New Mexico Unit Reports to Legislature (Cervantes)
SB 455 required that the Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) provide a written report to the Legislature by November 1, 2015 that demonstrates the NM CAP Entity has the technical, legal and financial capacity to design, build, operate and maintain the Gila River diversion project (“NM Unit”) under the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA). The report would have required the signature of the State Engineer, and the Legislative Finance Committee would have to find that the report adequately addresses these issues prior to the NM CAP Entity signing the NM Unit Agreement. This bill would have brought needed fiscal responsibility and accountability to the AWSA planning process. A Senate Conservation Committee substitute for SB 455 was offered which included provisions of SB 542. The Conservation Committee Substitute for SB 455 died in Senate Judiciary Committee.
SB 461: New Mexico Unit Fund for Certain Projects (Morales)
SB 461 would have required the Interstate Stream Commission to focus $82 million in federal Arizona Water Settlements Act funding on water supply projects, like water conservation, watershed improvement and new infrastructure to help meet water supply demands in the southwest water planning region. This measure would have also represented a positive step towards protecting New Mexico’s Gila River, the state’s last free-flowing river, from a large-scale diversion. SB 461 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
SB 467: Change Interstate Stream Commission Members (Wirth)
SB 467 would have depoliticized water planning and management in New Mexico by limiting the number of appointments from the Governor’s office to the Interstate Stream Commission to four members and by requiring that no single political party have more than four members. Additionally, the bill required professional qualifications of appointees in water resources fields and representation by a variety of water users across the state. SB 467 passed the Senate (28-13) and died on the House calendar.
SB 493: Water Rights Leases Effective Dates (Wirth/Nuñez)
SB 493 addressed the need to clarify existing statute, which requires the State Engineer to approve all water use leases in accordance with laws that require a public notice and hearing. This clarification is necessary to ensure that these due process protections, which are clearly specified in the law, are not circumvented. SB 493 passed the Senate (29-9) and died in the House Judiciary Committee.
SB 498: Limit Utility Costs Without Notice & Hearing (Rue)
SB 498 would have increased transparency by preventing public electric utilities from passing increased fuel costs to consumers without a public hearing before the Public Regulation Commission, ensuring the public would have the opportunity to understand and contest the need for increasing electric rates. SB 498 died in the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee.
SB 542: NM Unit Fund & Stream Commission Actions (Rue)
SB 542 would have required public participation, greater transparency and accountability from the Interstate Stream Commission in its expenditures of Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA) federal funding. SB 542 would have amended and augmented the state law passed in 2011 creating the New Mexico Unit Fund that gave the ISC carte blanche over approximately $90 million in AWSA funds and require public oversight in expenditure of these funds. A Senate Conservation Committee substitute for SB 455 was offered which included provisions of SB 542.
**SB 677: Private Right of Action (McSorley)
SB 677 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. SB 677 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
4) Anti-Conservation legislation that passed
- Bills: 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 74: Protect State Land from Chicken Listing (Roch)
The federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides key protections for vulnerable, threatened and endangered species, like the Lesser Prairie Chicken. The ESA 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 that all actions necessary be taken to shield public lands from ESA protections resulting from 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 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 74 passed the House (31-22). Memorials and resolutions do not require action by the Governor.
5) Anti-Conservation legislation that didn’t pass
We urged all of our Representatives and Senators to OPPOSE these bills:
HB 61: Voting Verification Procedures (Smith/Ivey-Soto)
Though less onerous than other versions of voter identification, HB 61 would still have imposed an additional barrier to the ballot box which would likely discourage voter turnout and disenfranchise eligible voters. This is bad public policy that will likely depress voter turnout. We should be encouraging participation in our elections, not creating obstacles to participation in voting. HB 61 died in the House Judiciary Committee.
HB 87: Water Quality Control Commission Meetings (Ezzell)
HB 87 would have provided the Water Quality Control Commission with overly broad authority to decide the location of public hearings that they conduct. This would create the possibility for hearings to be conducted in a location that makes attendance difficult or impossible for communities most affected by proposed regulations or water quality standards. There is no provision in this bill to ensure that hearings regarding regulations or water quality standards are held in an area that is substantially affected by the regulation or standard. HB 87 passed the House (43-21) and died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
HB 116/SB 247: Regional Utility Construction of Transmission (Brown; Ingle)
HB 116 and SB 247 sought to give public utilities an unfair advantage in constructing transmission facilities, regardless of whether an independent entity has already invested significant resources in the project and can construct it for less. The impact would have been detrimental to consumers and the renewable energy industry. HB 116 and SB 247 could have prevented some of these projects from proceeding, and deter future projects from being proposed. Although these bills were limited in scope and currently only impact utilities in southeastern New Mexico, this legislation could deter investment in renewable transmission in this area. It could also have set a statewide precedent in which other utilities choose to join regional transmission organizations in order to take advantage of the right of first refusal guarantees provided by this bill. HB 116 passed the House (37-19) and died in the Senate Judiciary Committee. SB 247 passed the Senate (23-15) but died on the House calendar.
HB 190: Sand, Gravel & Quarries in Mining Act (Smith/Sapien)
HB 190 would have excluded certain small mining operations—those with an unreclaimed surface area of less than five contiguous acres—from regulation under the New Mexico Mining Act. This would allow certain open-cut mines to exist without the ability to prosecute for violations of the Mining Act. HB 190 died in the House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee.
**HB 199: Oil & Gas Operation Jurisdiction (Bandy)
Counties have the power to adopt local ordinances that best suit community needs and interests. To date, some counties have passed ordinances restricting certain aspects of oil and gas production in response to concerns of water contamination and health risks. HB 199 would have invalidated any county ordinance relating to oil and gas production, removing the critical flexibility that communities need to protect the public interest on a local scale. HB 199 died in the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
HB 210: Pollution Control Equipment Gross Receipts (James)
HB 210 sought to exempt the sale of pollution control machinery and equipment from the Gross Receipts Tax. Besides adding yet another new loophole in our already-compromised tax laws, this would have subsidized polluting industries to comply with the law—hardly a valid purpose for a tax incentive. HB 210 died in the House Ways and Means Committee.
**HB 291/SB 483: NM Federal Land Management Study Commission (Herrell; Sharer)
HB 291 and SB 483 would have created a 17-member commission to study the possibility of transferring federal public lands to state control. Such a study would be a waste of time and resources since any such land transfers are unconstitutional. Under the U.S. Constitution, the federal government has the authority and responsibility of managing all federal public lands. HB 291 and SB 483 attempted to violate the Constitution by promoting the transfer of federal public lands to state control. HB 291 died in the House Judiciary Committee. SB 483 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
**HB 299: Public-Private Partnership Act (Larrañaga)
HB 299 was a sweeping measure that would privatize public entities that are most appropriately developed and maintained by public entities such as water and sewage systems. Experiences by other governments in privatizing public services (e.g. transportation, water treatment, education, public safety) have rarely been successful, usually resulting in higher costs, lower quality and expensive legal battles in the long-term. HB 299 passed the House (38-27) and died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
HB 340: Change Certain Voter ID Requirements (Brown)
HB 340 would have likely disenfranchised voters, especially minority and elderly voters who are often most disproportionately impacted by the effects of pollution and environmental injustice, by requiring a photo ID issued by a government, federal agency, recognized tribe or educational institution. HB 340 passed the House (37-29) and died in the Senate Rules Committee.
**HB 366: Oil & Gas State Preemption (Gentry)
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 certain aspects of oil and gas production in response to concerns of water contamination and health risks. HB 366 would have invalidated any county and municipality ordinance relating to oil and gas law, including zoning ordinances–removing the critical flexibility that communities need to protect the public interest on a local scale. HB 366 passed the House (37-28) and died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
**HB 445: Reduce Renewable Portfolio Standards (Scott)
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. HB 445 sought to weaken the state’s RPS by removing the requirement that utilities produce 20% of their energy from renewable sources by the year 2020. HB 445 passed the House (33-32) and died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
HB 457/SB 335: Oil & Gas as Official State Resource (Scott; Sharer)
HB 457 and SB 335 would have sent the wrong message that oil and gas is a more valued resource than resources critical to New Mexicans such as water, air and wildlife by adopting oil and gas as the official resource of New Mexico. HB 457 died in the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee. SB 335 died in the Senate Rules Committee.
HB 468: State Sovereignty Over State Trust Wildlife (Roch)
HB 468 attempted to unconstitutionally remove the federal government’s ability to protect the Lesser Prairie Chicken under the Endangered Species Act or any other treaty or regulation, while establishing “state sovereignty” over the existence and management of the Lesser Prairie Chicken within New Mexico. The state does not have the constitutional right to undermine federal authority under the Endangered Species Act. HB 468 died in the House Judiciary Committee.
HB 502: Off-Highway Vehicle Operation & Fees (Cook)
The negative environmental impacts of OHVs are well documented, constituting one of the most critical threats to our public lands and forests. HB 502 attempted to tie the hands of local government from regulating the use of OHVs by prohibiting them from imposing fees that may be necessary to restore areas damaged by irresponsible or unlawful OHV use, install barriers or access improvements and enforce existing laws. This legislation would have also prevented local governments from further regulating their use regardless of the damage that they may be doing or the safety threats that they may pose. HB 502 died in the House Transportation and Public Works Committee.
HB 564: Right to Farm and Operations as Nuisance (Wooley)
HB 564 would have weakened a citizen’s right to legally respond when they have been impacted by the effects of pollution caused by agricultural operations. HB 564 passed the House (35-29) and died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
**HB 566: Uranium Legacy Cleanup Act (Johnson)
This bill proposed to establish a fund to assist with cleanup of abandoned uranium mines and milling sites; the revenues for the fund are derived from a tax on new uranium mining. Although HB 566 included one very important section that empowers the state to pursue responsible parties for liability for cleanup of abandoned uranium operations, this value is more than offset by the return of the “blackmail bill,” so-called because it forces communities to accept new uranium mining if they want any funds generated to clean up the messes left behind from the last wave of uranium industry activity. HB 566 died in the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
HB 573: Severance Tax Distribution to Some Counties (Clahchischilliage)
HB 573 would have required that 1% of severance tax revenues be returned to the county in which the natural resources were extracted. This would have significantly reduced the amount of severance tax revenues earmarked for important water, tribal infrastructure and colonia projects. HB 573 died in the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee.
HB 586: Cougar Hunting & Trapping (Cook)
Currently the cougar is on the list of New Mexico’s protected wildlife species, meaning a permit is required to hunt them. HB 586 challenged the protected status of the cougar in New Mexico — an action that cannot be biologically justified based on studies detailing cougar populations across the state. HB 586 died in House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee.
HB 625: Changing Definitions in the Mining Act (Zimmerman)
HB 625 proposed to significantly weaken protections for groundwater and public health in the New Mexico Mining Act, one of New Mexico’s most effective environmental laws. HB 625 proposed to remove the existing Mining Act requirement that reclamation be self-sustaining, allow unlimited expansion of some open pits or waste units and relaxes “standby” requirements that could allow operators to circumvent reclamation at mining sites. HB 625 died in the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
**SB 184: No STB Projects in Certain Counties (Sharer)
In what can best be described as a creative way to ensure that local governments do not regulate activities that affect the health and welfare of their residents, SB 184 attempted to prevent the issuance of severance tax bonds for projects in municipalities or counties that are deemed to have ordinances on the books that would increase costs for extractive industry operations by 25% or more. SB 184 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
**SB 219: Expiration of Rules (Cotter)
Under current law, repeal of a rule requires an open, transparent process that includes notice and public hearings. Under SB 219, all rules on the books (except taxation rules) would have been repealed unless state agencies choose to retain them, based on an arbitrary set of subjective criteria. The effect of the bill was to deprive New Mexicans of their fundamental right to express support or opposition to the wholesale repeal of rules that govern critical functions of state government. SB 219 died in the Senate Rules Committee.
SB 288: Exclude Humate from Mining Act (Griego)
SB 288 would have exempted the humate mining industry from complying with the New Mexico Mining Act. This would have eliminated the ability of the state to ensure all current and future humate mines meet baseline critical standards, such as air quality and reclamation requirements, which protect New Mexico’s communities, resources and natural heritage. In addition, this exemption could also create a loophole in which any humate mining conducted on private lands (currently regulated by Energy, Minerals, & Natural Resources Department), would no longer be regulated or held accountable by any entity. SB 288 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
**SB 307: Clarify Farm Operations are not Nuisances (Pirtle)
Taking defense of unlawful polluters to the extreme, SB 307 proposed to exempt illegal agricultural operations from nuisance laws while also expanding the “grandfather” clause for existing operations. SB 307 would have had the effect of exempting expanded or altered agricultural operations from any ordinance or resolution — even those adopted prior to the expansion or alteration that would have prohibited or restricted those activities. SB 307 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
SB 348: Right to Farm & Operations as Nuisance (Griego)
Similar to SB 307, SB 348 would have prevented local governments from establishing ordinances that would deem agricultural operations a nuisance regardless of when it commenced operation. SB 348 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
**SB 374: Uniform Environmental Covenants Act (Ivey-Soto)
SB 374 attempted to allow the application of ‘environmental’ covenants that restrict future land uses instead of requiring the landowner to clean up contaminated sites. The way this legislation was written would have provided an end-run around the Water Quality Control Act. Instead of permitting environmental covenants only when the land and groundwater could not be completely remediated, it would have created the possibility that covenants would be used as the means to demonstrate that there was no risk to human health, and therefore didn’t need to be completely remediated. SB 374 died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
**SB 421: Limit Local Gov’t & Zoning Commissions (Ingle)
Similar to HB 366, but far more sweeping in the types of local government ordinances that would be invalidated, SB 421 would have removed municipal or county governments authority to regulate mining and agricultural operations in addition to oil and gas activities. This would have removed the critical flexibility that communities need to protect the public interest on a local scale. SB 421 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
**SB 601: Oil Conservation Rules Apply to All Counties (Griggs)
SB 601 would have prohibited the Oil Conservation Commission from enacting special rules applying to specific counties and invalidate current rules that are in place such as those meant to protect the Galisteo Basin and Otero Mesa. This would have removed the critical flexibility needed to protect distinct areas of the state. SB 601 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
RESOLUTIONS, MEMORIALS & APPROPRIATIONS:
HJR 10/HJR 19: Convention of States (Herrell; Bandy)
HJR 10 and HJR 19 would have required the New Mexico legislature to apply to Congress to call for a convention of the states to propose constitutional amendments including one that would limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government. Because the environment does not know state boundaries, the federal government establishes many of the environmental protections we rely on to protect our air, land and water. HJR 10 died in House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee. HJR 19 passed the House (34-27) and died in the Senate Rules Committee.
HJR 13: Constitutional Countermand Convention (Herrell)
Similar to HJR 10, HJR 13 would have required the New Mexico legislature to apply to Congress to call for a convention of the states to propose a countermand amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would allow states to veto any federal statute, executive order, judicial decision, or regulatory decision. Many proponents of these types of measures are the same people who oppose strong environmental protections that protect our air, land and water from the effects of pollution and contamination. HJR 13 died in the House Judiciary Committee.
HM 16: Veto Certain Capital Outlay & Use for Roads (David Gallegos)
HM 16 would have discouraged local governments from enacting policies that are in the best interest of their community’s health and well-being by requesting that the Governor veto all capital outlay appropriations for counties that have banned or severely restricted oil & gas exploration and reprioritize that money for highway improvements. HM 16 died on the House calendar.
HM 66: Develop Mexican Wolf Recovery Program (Baldonado)
HM 66 requested that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service complete a recovery plan for Mexican wolves by December 2015, and that the Department of the Interior set up a fund to reimburse livestock owners for losses caused by wolves. Though a recovery plan is needed and is required by law, this memorial misrepresents the facts and is misleading. Compensation funds for livestock losses are currently available through Farm Bill money and a multi-sourced and federally-vested “interdiction” program with dollars distributed through local stakeholders. Also, the Defenders of Wildlife currently offers funds for proactive measures to prevent depredations. HM 66 died on the House calendar.
HM 99: Permit to Manage Mexican Wolf Population (Nuñez)/HM 117: Denounce Mexican Wolf Recovery Program (Nuñez)
H M 99 and HM 117 had much of the same misleading information as HM 66 but requested that the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish be permitted to manage Mexican wolves. This request would transfer the primary responsibility from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the state. In tight budget times, a key factor that should be considered is the availability of resources to fulfill those responsibilities – as the Department of Game and Fish is sorely underfunded. The financial liabilities they would face in managing wolves include a huge public participation aspect, complying with federal law and defending against lawsuits that have been commonplace regarding wolves. In 2011, the Game Commission voted to withdraw the NM Department of Game and Fish as a cooperator in the Mexican wolf reintroduction program. The department has shown no interest in managing Mexican gray wolves since then and has contributed neither personnel nor material support to the effort since it withdrew. HM 99 died in the House Agriculture, Water and Wildlife Committee. HM 117 died on the House calendar.
SJR 13: PRC Appointed By Governor (Sharer)
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. SJR 13 proposed to change the PRC from a five-member elected commission to a three-member commission appointed by the governor and reduces the qualifications necessary to serve as a PRC commissioner. This change would expose this powerful commission to the possibility for politically motivated appointments and makes the commission less accountable to the electorate. By reducing the qualifications necessary to serve on the PRC, there would be less safeguards to ensure that members of the commission have the appropriate background and expertise to make informed decisions. SJR 13 died on the Senate Rules Committee.
SM 6: Federal Land Mgmt. & Revenue Impacts (Woods)
SM 6 was an effort to study, without funding, whether it would be fiscally beneficial to the state to manage, maintain and control lands that are currently designated federal public lands. The U.S. Constitution provides for the federal government to manage, maintain and control federal public lands. By encouraging a study, SM 6 implicitly supported the effort to violate the Constitution by usurping federal authority and transferring oversight of federal public lands to the state. SM 6 was amended to remove language requesting a study regarding state ownership of federal public lands. Despite this change the language in this memorial still referenced proposals for federal land transfers. SM 6 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
SM 40: No Additional Wilderness Next to Pecos (Griego)
SM 40 opposed the proposed expansion of the Pecos Wilderness. These lands are currently designated and managed as Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRAs), in order to protect watersheds, clean water, wildlife habitat and sustainable recreational use, as well economic strength. Because these lands are already IRAs, very little will change if they become wilderness lands. However, the land and prime watersheds will be permanently protected for future generations. SM 40 died in the Senate Rules Committee.