Results from SpeakUp New Mexico! the 2019 Legislative Priorities Survey.
Results from SpeakUp New Mexico! Our 2019 Legislative Priorities Survey
Today,s blog is a report on the 2019 Legislative Priorities Survey. After an explosive start, the number of new respondents has tapered and we are stuck with about 1200 respondents so far. If you haven’t taken the survey please click here to do so. It only takes 12 minutes to complete and we need to have more respondents for the Democrats to take it seriously.
Below you will find charts depicting the level of support for each bill. I apologize for your not always being able to read the percentages in the oppose and strongly oppose responses. Survey Monkey is pretty rigid and we grouped bills into issue categories. Survey Monkey displays the results horizontally by category. If there are one or two bills in a category all is fine, but if there are 3 or 4, then it is cramped. What you will see are screen shots of each chart. It is pretty easy to track the relative support, but aesthetically the result is compromised.
The summary below provides a description that is only a sentence or at most two, so if you want to want to read a more detailed description of any of the bills, click here, where we present more detailed summaries of each bill.
As to the results, some general observations:
- 90% of respondents are Democrats and while we have respondents for all but one House District, we very much need to reach out to communities other than ABQ, Santa Fe and House Districts 41 and 46. Our Roundhouse Advocacy Team will be working on that all summer.
- The five most supported bills were
- Not to fund building a border wall;
- Health Security Act;
- Increase in the RPS for NM, the proportion of energy devoted to renewables;
- Independent commission to do redistricting (and end gerrymandering); and
- Eliminating the Rape Kit backlog.
The fact that the minimum wage bill we endorsed didn’t join this group is likely the result of our being timid about the pace and scale of the increase. Many progressives would argue for the immediate $15 an hour rate. But we discussed this endlessly and ultimately recognized that in many rural NM communities, such a jump would be essentially doubling the rate for rural NM, something that simply might not be supportable. Another general comment is that some bills did not do well because they were complex issues and folks didn’t go to the longer summaries, opting to just indicate their neutrality.
While all the bills enjoyed very significant majorities, my biggest surprise and disappointment was the relatively low support for any form of tax increases. Without significant reform of our tax system and elimination of scores of tax giveaways, the anticipated 2019 gas and oil revenue boom will be the boom before the bust. We need to deal with the inequity of our tax system, chronicled many times in Retake blogs, we will never address infrastructure, failing education system, shredded safety net, and a myriad of social justice offenses. We need to do it.
I would like to delve more deeply in this commentary, but will run out of batteries on Roxanne’s computer. Mine can go for 4 hours, hers is very inconsistent and I want to get this out today…already hours late.
So with no further adieu, the results of the survey.
Criminal Justice Bills
HB 175 Isolated Confinement Act – Prohibits solitary confinement for any inmate under 18, for individuals with an established mental health diagnosis, and for pregnant women, after the first five days of confinement. PG:Very little opposition to this bill with less than 5% of respondents indicating that they are opposed or strongly opposed to the reform. I am actually a tad surprised that there are not even more respondents strongly supporting a bill that really has no downside.
SB 7 Sex Assault Kit Police Crime Lab– Appropriates state funds for a municipal police department crime lab to process sexual assault examination kits in a timely manner and to eliminate the current backlog. PG: One of the very highest showings in terms of the proportion who strongly support the bill with almost 80% strongly approving and over 97% supporting or strongly supporting and no one opposed. My question: who the hell was neutral on this.
SB 259. No Firearms for Objects of Protection Subjects. Provides a court order for those subject to a restraining order resulting from domestic abuse, to forfeit possession of all firearms and prohibits purchase of firearms. An even higher level of strong support on this bill, but some
HB 67 Increase Minimum Wage – gradually increases state minimum wage from $7.50 to $10.10 over a three year period and provides for a yearly increase according to a formula that calculates cost of living (COLA). PG: I suspect that many respondents were looking for Retake to advocate for $15 an hour. We debated this for a long time and felt that while the $15 an hour level is certainly necessary to lift a worker out of poverty, there are parts of the state where the minimum wage is $7.50 an hour and we felt that doubling that rate immediately would put so many business in an impossible situation for many rural businesses.
HB 347 & SB 15 Small Loan Interest Caps (Pay Day Lenders)– Provides protections for payday loan consumers and limits interest rates to 36% on loans under $5000. It also limits penalties for late payments. PG: This bill was introduced in 2017 and a number of legislators, Rodella among them, worked behind the scenes to introduce a competing bill that set the limit at 175%. We need to do better in 2019. And will over 90% of respondents showing support for the bill, we will have evidence of broad support and almost no opposition.
HJR 1. Permanent Funds for Early Childhood. If approved by voters in a statewide referendum, the state constitution would require the Land Grant Permanent Fund (LGPF) to provide additional yearly distributions of 1 percent from the fund to educational and early childhood educational (ECE) services starting in fiscal year 2020. PG: The challenge here lies in Senator John Arthur Smith, an advocate for early childhood, but a strong fiscal conservative who sits as Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. To move this bill through his committee will require strong leadership from Democratic leadership and pressure from advocates.
HB 105 Innovations in Teaching Act– Reduces the degree to which standardized testing results are used in teacher evaluations and gives teachers flexibility to experiment with approaches to better serve students. PG: This is a bill that likely will get through in 2019 and with Steve Pearce indicating that he is in favor of blowing up the current evaluation system, this is one bill that could be signed no matter who wins in November.
SB 96. Campaign Finance Fixes– Requires informal campaign organizations prohibited from coordinating with a candidate to disclose their identity and the location of actions taken. Exposes last minute ‘hit piece’ sources. PG: After the ABQ Mayor’s race, the PRC races and the races in Districts 41 and 46, all buried with outside dark money and last minute personal attacks, passing this bill may be a bit easier than in the past. It is a badly needed reform.
HB 28 Driver’s License Automatic Voter Registration– Requires the MVD to automatically provide information of all driver’s license or ID applicants to county clerks for voter registration unless applicants opt out. PG: In an era where the GOP has instilled fear of voter fraud, as common as being hit by lightning…twice, it is time for some states to step forward to make it as easy as possible to vote. Many folks do not pay much attention until the election nears and if they wait too long, they can suddenly be inspired by a candidate or issue with it being too late to register.
HJR 3. Independent Commission to Conduct Redistricting– Creates an independent redistricting commission to lead to more representative State and Congressional districts and eliminate gerrymandering. PG: This bill may face opposition from some in the Democratic Party who see 2020 as an opportunity to gerrymander districts and in doing so, further cement their hold on the Roundhouse. The problem with this strategy, beyond its basically subverting democracy, is that what goes around, comes around and in 2030 if the GOP has taken control of the Roundhouse, they will very quickly wreak revenge. This is a chance to lead the nation in election reform.
SB 312 Renewable Energy Requirements for Utilities. – Requires that renewable energy increase to 25% of energy sales in NM by 2025, increasing to 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2040, and provides reporting and oversight guidelines. PG: This establishes a goal for utility providers throughout NM and provides a framework for enforcement for PNM. This was one of the most strongly supported bills in the survey with just over 90% of respondents in support. We will need that level of support and strong advocacy, as PNM, El Paso Electric and other utilities will lobby heavily for lower levels.
SB 342 & HB 338 Community Solar Gardens Act. – Enables a community, business or other organization to build their own energy generation facility, up to 10 MW, and allows individuals to subscribe for a share of the electricity. PG: Community solar would allow cities, school districts, businesses, home owner associations, fire stations, and other organizations to build their own solar installations rather having to rely on PNM and El Paso Electric to finally develop solar. It is a way to achieve energy independence locally and, no wonder, faces fierce opposition from PNM and other utilities. While 90% of respondents support or strongly support this bill, it surprises me that there isn’t even stronger support for this.
SB 307 Oil & Gas Act Powers & Penalties– Stipulates fines of up to $10,000 per day, per violation for unlawful discharge of contaminants under the Oil and Gas Act. Makes willing violation a 3rddegree felony and gives authority to the Oil Conservation Division to impose penalties rather than relying on the AG to file a lawsuit.PG: given that penalties for violations haven’t been updated in like 60 years, this is long overdue and this bill is one of the most strongly supported of all the bills.
HB 101, SB 172 Health Security Act– Creates universal access to healthcare in NM to contain healthcare costs for consumers and ensure timely, affordable access to effective healthcare statewide.PG: This:bill has been in the Roundhouse in various forms for over a decade. National healthcare coverage is disintegrating and so it is up to states to innovate. There will be heavy push back from pharma, health plans and insurers, but it is time to create a state model that provides coverage for all New Mexicans.
HB 45/SB 33: Tribal Local Native American Health Needs. Would appropriate $700 thousand from the general fund to the Department of Health to fund tribal health councils’ identification of local communities’ health needs and development of strategies to address those needs pursuant to the Maternal and Child Health Plan Act. PG: In truth, we had a hard time identifying bills germane to indigenous communities. In speaking with legislators, they told us that many of the bills relative to these communities are often buried within huge budget bills. We are going to be working with leadership from the tribal and pueblo communities with whom we have recently developed relationships to help us identify and support their legislative priorities.
HB 116. No Local Enforcement of Federal Immigration Law – Prohibits the use or acceptance of state or federal funds, equipment, personnel or resources to help find or apprehend undocumented people. PG: While there is strong support for HB 116, there is a surprising proportion of people who oppose or strongly oppose this bill. I wonder if that perspective has shifted much with the recent family separation policy.
HB 292 No State Land for Border Wall – Prohibits the use of state lands for the construction of a border wall between New Mexico and Mexico. PG: This bill received more ‘strong support’ than any bill in the list. I suspect it would receive higher approval today due to the zero tolerance and family separation actions recently. Still there are almost 7% who strongly oppose this bill and would appear to support the building of the wall. Given that less than 3% of the respondents are GOP, it is surprising to see so much strong opposition to the two immigration bills.
SB 115 Safe Schools for All Students Act – Directs the Public Education Department to develop rules that require school districts to develop and implement bullying prevention programs. PG: I think it is somewhat surprising that there is so little opposition to this bill, perhaps an indication that the survey hasn’t not penetrated more conservative parts of the state and/or that times, they are a changing–hopefully the later. As the results to SB 120 reveal while teh LGBQ community may have achieved strong support in the Democratic Party, the “T” part of the movement, while enjoying reasonably strong support, still has some work to do to educate some segments of the Party.
SB 120 Vital Record Sex Designation – Allows an individual to change the sexual identification stipulated in birth records.PG: As represented in the large number of folks who were neutral, it is likely that some respondents didn’t understand what the bill was about and with over 6% strongly opposed, there is obviously some respondents who have not embraced progressive transgender policies.
Tax & Revenue
HB 201 New Top Income Tax Bracket– Increases the top tax rate by 1%, creating a new rate for the highest earning households (Married, separate filers who make over $230,000; Married, joint filers who make over $460,000 and single filers who make over $306,000.) The bill would generate $27 million annually. PG: Given how long we have been living on an austerity budget and tax system and how utterly corrupt and regressive that system is, I am stunned that the tax reform bills didn’t enjoy far greater support, especially SB 264. Americans have been duped into thinking that any tax increase is a bad thing. We have our some work to do here.
SB 264 Taxation of Internet Sales Act – Requires imposition and collection of sales tax for online businesses. Addresses the unfair advantage of online businesses over NM businesses and creates additional tax revenue. PG: Very disappointing. Shouldn’t our Amazon purchases be taxed?
SB 278 HB 89 Cannabis Revenue & Freedom Act – Establishes a framework for legalizing the recreational purchase of marijuana by individuals 21 and over. PG: I was actually stunned by how strongly legalized recreational marijuana is in this state. It certainly would create jobs and revenue, both needed.
Land & Water
HB 418 Inter-basin Water Right Transfer Requirement –Strengthens the laws governing the diversion of water from the basin of origin in order to limit diversion of water from agriculture to urban or other developments..PG: Here I think that most of the problem is that many folks simply didn’t understand the bill. Ditto the next one. Not the huge percent of unsure respondents.
SB 350 Agricultural Land Valuations Act. – Creates a specific land valuation method for land previously used for agriculture, and provides for recapture of tax savings if the land is developed for other purposes.PG: Same issue as with above. For those who want more detail on this bill, go to the top of the post where there is a link to more detailed descriptions of each bill.
SB 268 Prohibit Coyote-Killing Contests– Makes it a misdemeanor to organize, sponsor, arrange, or hold a coyote-killing contest for prizes or entertainment and a petty misdemeanor to participate in one. PG: Very strong support for banning coyote kills and even stronger support for other wildlife protection..
SB 286 NM Wildlife Protection & Public Safety Act– Makes illegal the use of poison or traps on public lands that could injure or kill the public or their pets, except specific contexts, including traditional forms of hunting or fishing.
SB 81 Wildlife Trafficking Act. – Criminalizes the trafficking of protected or threatened animal species, parts, and products and provides for penalties. Allows NM law enforcement to take action independent of federal agents.
HB 284 Health Coverage for Contraception– Mandates coverage of contraception by health plans operating in the NM health exchange. Provides guidelines for delivery and prescriptions. PG: Not surprising that these two bills enjoyed such strong support, but I am surprised that the second bill didn’t have even greater support than it did. It seems any time the state asks the business community to do anything that might jeopardize profits, they hiccup.
HB 179 Pregnant Worker Accommodation Act.– Prohibits discrimination in employment related to pregnancy or childbirth. Requires employers to provide related reasonable accommodations to applicants or employees.
So there you have it. The 2019 Legislative Priorities Survey results. I hope you found it interesting. It certainly establishes some goals for January 2019, especially if we elect a Democratic Governor. If you want to get involved with Retake’s Roundhouse Advocacy Team, please check out the Events and Actions page that provides information about its meetings. Let me know if you’d like to be put on the Team’s email list to be notified of future meetings.
Paul & Roxanne (from I-40 in Tennessee)