Roundhouse Advocacy: What We Can Achieve & How You Can Help + NM Private Prisons & Fracking Action Alerts

This is a crucial blog that should be shared broadly. We have an opportunity to do something special in 2019. Time to play offense in our State Legislature in NM. With anything like the energy and commitment that was garnered in the campaign, we can transform NM. No more 50th. Plus info on a hearing @ planned doubling of fracking in San Juan, plus Allegra Love on plans for refugee detention in private prisons in NM.

We have two Action Alerts we want to cover before describing how we plan to take the offense at the Roundhouse. Unfortunately, there are critical policy areas where we are still playing defense to protect our land from being despoiled by greed and to preserve our very moral character, as rumors circulate of plans to build more private prisons in NM to house detained immigrants and refugees. Protect our land; resist private prisons; and find out how we can create legislation that protects NM from these kinds of offensive incursions. Read on.

Protest Doubling the Well Density in San Juan. Special Hearing NM Oil Conservation Commission, Nov. 19th 9 am. 

Hilcorp is seeking approval to DOUBLE the well density in the Blanco-MesaVerde formation across San Juan and Rio Arriba counties without any analysis of impacts. The move could lead to 8,000 additional wells. Communities in San Juan and Rio Arriba counties already are overwhelmed by oil and gas. Northwestern New Mexico is home to more than 40,000 oil and gas wells as well as ancillary compressors, processing plants and pipelines. No analysis has been done on the impacts of  doubling the well density. We’re additionally concerned because approval of this request would circumvent the current public process required when an exemption to the well density is requested.

We’re fighting the effort, which skirts public input and environmental analysis, but we need you to  show your support. Can you make it to the hearing next week?  If you can come on the 19th, please respond to this email letting the San Juan Citizens Alliance know by writing to:  info@sanjuancitizens.org. If you can’t make it, please take a few minutes to submit comments via email. Below you will find talking points and contact information to get you started and details about where to send them.

What can you do?  Come to the meeting! Speak out against this request.  On November 19th the New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission will be making their decision. We need to let them know that this is not OK. The public is invited to provide comment and San Juan Citizens Alliance will again be attempting to persuade the commission not to approve Hilcorp’s request. It is critical for the commission to get feedback from the public.

Can’t make it? Submit comments against the proposal to florene.davidson@state.nm.us. Below are some suggestions for talking points. Please edit and adapt as you see fit. Indeed, it is a good idea to use your own language borrowing the details from the information below.

As a public agency, NMOCC has both the regulatory authority and the duty to consider the concerns of the public about applications brought forth before the commission.

  • As a member of the public I am deeply concerned about how this application would affect public health and the environment. In particular, I am concerned about the potential of this proposal to impact water resources, to create additional surface disturbance and landscape fragmentation, and to negatively affect to air quality and contribute to climate change. Disregarding the concerns of  San Juan and Rio Arriba county citizens by NMOCC concerning the magnitude of Hilcorp’s well density change application would be extremely troubling.
  • San Juan County is already on the cusp of exceeding safe ozone levels and oil and gas development is a major contributor to the Delaware-sized methane hot spot that is a black eye on New Mexico, the oil and gas industry, and the nation as a whole. I am concerned about whether Hilcorp is taking adequate steps to capture methane while drilling new wells or doing recompletions. Doubling drilling will certainly result in declining air quality that will affect 13,000 kids and adults in San Juan County who struggle with asthma.
  • *If you are a resident of San Juan or Rio Arriba Counties, include specifics about how you have been impacted by oil and gas. The NMOCC is particularly interested in hearing about impacts to property.”

Allegra Love Talk on Confinement in the Land of Enchantment.Thurs. Nov.15, 6pm at the Main Public Library.

Allegra Love, Director of Santa Fe Dreamers, will talk about plans to develop private immigration prisons in NM. It is critically important that learn what is in the planning stages and how we can resist. Also find out what is happening with the migrant caravan and the rumors that family detention is going to open in NM. Click here for more and to RSVP. This is obviously an important issue. Sadly, the time somewhat conflicts with our crucial Roundhouse Advocacy Team meeting described below. We will do all we can to finish our Roundhouse Meeting by 6 and will structure the agenda to cover the most critical things by 5:45–although in truth we have a ton to do to get rolling and the legislative session is fast approaching. We’ll do our best. But we NEVER withhold information on ally events that compete with ours and this is so very important. Go Allegra.
Oops.  I want to apologize to the 20 or so folks who opened yesterday’s post early in the morning. I simply must discipline myself to take a last review of posts before hitting publish. I usually do, but sometimes in the effort to make sure the post is there for readers first thing in the morning, I review the post immediately after publishing and then edit the one or two typos or confusing sentences and then quickly hit update. Those who hadn’t opened the post by then were none the wiser as they get the edited version and usually the typos or confusing phrases are forgivable and understandable. I can’t do that any more. Yesterday, something went badly awry in two cut and pastes in the beginning of the blog resulting in some tough reading at the beginning and at the end. Fixed now and lesson learned. Those who opened early paid the price. Sorry.

Election Successes Force Us to Examine What Can Be Done at the Roundhouse in 2019

This document is meant to serve as an orientation for folks who suddenly see all that is possible in NM and who want to continue to flex their muscles after experiencing the flush of success last Tuesday. We have a small group of folks who have been active for two years organizing for this moment.

We have a nascent Statewide Rapid Response Network (RRN) that needs to be oriented and activated.

And we have opportunities for people who want to research bills, who are willing to reach out to those who have signed up to be part of the RRN, who want to learn how to advocate at the Roundhouse during the legislative session from January 15 through March 16, and who are willing to distribute flyers to legislator offices at the Roundhouse.

While the action at the Roundhouse begins January 15, to have an impact we need to build the infrastructure of advocacy now. We begin, this Thursday from 4:30 – 6:30 at our new planning venue:  The Center for Progress & Justice, 1420 Cerrillos. If you plan to attend, please consider inviting a couple of funds and double or triple your impact and the fun involved. It is much more fun to do this work with friends. And please email me to let me know you are coming. We need to be prepared with tables and chairs for all. Write to me at: Paul@RetakeOurDemocracy.org. LET’S DO THIS!

As noted above, we will do our best to end the meeting near 6pm so people can then head over to the downtown library to hear from Allegra Love. The rest of this post provides historic context for the opportunity we have, how to prepare yourself for Thursday’s meeting if you have not been involved, to date, what we will discuss at the meeting and some of our ambitious goals. The goals have to be ambitious after so long on defense and with a Democratic Governor who will sign good bills, not veto them.

The Context

For the past several months, Retake has been focusing on getting people elected, throwing House Parties for candidates, organizing and participating in canvassing and phone banking, etc. Now it is time so shift to legislative advocacy. And we have the table set nicely for success, so we need to really hunker down.

For two years, the Roundhouse Advocacy Team, or RAT Pack has been hard at work to be ready for this moment. RAT Pack members have had countless conversations with non-profit advocacy organizations like Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, ACLU, and NM Voices for Children. We also spoke with numerous State Legislators to find out more about how the Roundhouse works and what we need to effectively advocate for good bills.  From those conversations we identified how good bills have stalled in committees, often with the help of unsupportive Democrats. We learned what bills that had not been passed were most important to our non-profit allies.

From these conversations we also learned who are the key Democratic legislators who have historically killed good bills by voting with the GOP in committee or simply by being absent from a key vote. Using this information, we developed a 2018-2019 Election & Legislative Strategy (below) that began by working to unseat Debbie Rodella and Carl Trujillo from the State House.and electing Abbas Akhil as the first climate scientist to join the NM State House in District 20. We also endorsed eleven candidates for the NM House and every last one of them has been elected. In truth, we played only minor roles in most of those eleven, but in several we were very, very involved.

Not limiting ourselves to the Roundhouse, we also worked hard with our partners to unseat Sandy Jones and Lynda Lovejoy from the Public Regulation Commission.  And we also played an important supportive role in the huge grassroots effort that elected Xochitl Torres Small to the US House. While Retake was important to those wins, many, many other individuals and groups also played important roles and we need to engage them and focus their energy on advocating for, passing and signing good bills that in the past died in committee or were vetoed by Susana Martinez.

Boy have things changed. This is an unbelievable opportunity and we have a plan, but to maximize the impact of that plan we need you….actually we need lots of you. So if this is something you want to get involved with read on, then share it with friends and come this Thursday to find out more.

For those of you who have not been involved with the Roundhouse Team, while not essential, I’d suggest that they take a look at three documents before attending

  • Our Retake Election and Legislative Strategy that outlines what the RAT Pack is all about.

https://retakeourdemocracy.org/retake-our-democracys-2018-19-electoral-and-legislative-strategy-2/

  • Our list of 29 Legislative Priorities for 2019. We created an online survey based upon this list and we used it to build a statewide network and find out more about the aspirations oft New Mexicans.

https://retakeourdemocracy.org/2019-new-mexico-priorities/

  • If you haven’t taken the legislative survey you can take it here. It takes about 30 minutes to complete but will orient you to what we are advocating for:

https://retakeourdemocracy.org/click-to-take-the-legislative-priorities-survey/

What You Can Do Now.

Between now and January 15, we have a good deal to do to be ready. There are roles for people who want to support our work from home and for those who want to experience the thrill of working at the Roundhouse. We need to:

  • Expand Our Base and the Rapid Response Network. We need to develop our base in other parts of NM. Legislators representing Las Cruces, San Juan or Gallup do not particularly care what Santa Feans think. But they care deeply about what their constituents think.  Over 1200 folks completed Retake’s Legislative Survey. In the survey they told us their bill priorities but they also told us the degree to which they want to be involved and the State House and Senate Districts in which they lived. We need to call these folks, find out if they are even more motivated now to get involved and seek their help in expanding the base in these more distant districts. These are people who can’t often come to the Roundhouse, but if alerted when key bills are going to committees where their representative will be voting, they can send emails and call.  We need to use November and December to significantly expand our base in these districts by calling those people who completed the survey and by working with other organizations to obtain their help: Ward Chairs, County Democratic Chairs, Indivisible groups and interfaith alliances. We need to engage them all.
  • Develop materials.  Committee assignments have been made and we need to develop lists of all the committees and their members, compile contact email addresses, room numbers and phone numbers and use this to share with our Rapid Response Network. We need to develop bill summaries for the bills we know we want to support, so that when new bills emerge we have time to consider them and create summaries for the new bills we will support. We need to research these bills to identify their potential impact and develop speaking and writing points to make it easier for Rapid Response Network members to lobby with their elected representatives.
  • Prioritize our Goals.  We can’t advocate for every good bill so together we must prioritize. I am told that there could be as many as 2000 bills that begin to be submitted in mid-December. We’ll need people prepared to scan these bills and identify those we might want to consider supporting and, as importantly, those we will oppose. And then together we need to take stock of our capacity and the bills we could potentially support.
  • Fill Session Roles and Responsibilities.  We will have tons of roles to be performed during the Roundhouse session and we need to identify and train folks to

    Legislators pay attention to a packed hearing room like this.

    perform these roles. We need people who will come to the Roundhouse to attend hearings and even to testify in support of bills. We need people to be assigned a specific cadre of legislators to visit their offices throughout the session and circulate flyers on different bills while cultivating relationships with the legislators and their staff. We need people to write press releases and circulate them to the media.  We need people to serve as Roundhouse Coordinators on specific days, directing others to the right hearing rooms and providing speaking points. There will also be the need to enter data, develop flyers, manage our database and send updates to members of the Response Network. And I am quite certain we will identify other roles as we move forward.

The degree to which we are successful will ENTIRELY depend upon how many of you take interest and translate it into action and how many of you make a decision, not only to get active, but to get a couple of other friends to join you. With one or two dozen people here in Santa Fe, we can have a significant impact, but with several dozen, we can have a huge one. What’s the differenced?

What We Can Accomplish

Imagine this. March 16, 2019, the Roundhouse has passed and the Governor has signed each of the bills below. This is not a final list of top priorities by any means, but over the next six weeks, we will be creating a list of non-negotiable, must pass and sign bills. Expect to see many of these among them. Think back on how euphoric you felt Tuesday night when the NM results became final. Now imagine how you will feel on March 16 if you have played an important role in making these bills law. 

1.      HB 101.  Health Security Act.  This should likely be our number one priority or damn near the top.  Passing this would have huge national implications.  To read a great summary of the bill and its importance, a Retake guest blog written by Ken Baumann, DSA. https://retakeourdemocracy.org/2018/11/10/time-to-get-ready-for-the-roundhouse-today-the-health-security-act-a-report-on-lanl-midterm-update/

2.      SB 7 Rape Kit Backlog. It is shameful that women who have been raped and then submitted to lab testing then find the results unexamined for months or even years. This bill absolutely can and will pass if we push. Indeed, I feel this should  be an easy  and long, long overdue win. 

3.      SB 259 Prohibiting firearms to those accused of DV.  No gun measure is easy. One of the leaders in the gun safety movement, Miranda Viscoli, wants to come to one of our meetings to discuss her priorities and we will undoubtedly fall in behind whatever she directs us to prioritize, but this would be a good start.

4.      HB 67 Minimum Wage. Raises the wage to $10 immediately and $12 in 2020 with a COLA. I think we can get this.

5.      HB 26/SB 15. Predatory lending limit. This is an economic and racial justice issue. It is criminal that before the 2017 session lenders could charge as much as 1000% in annual interest (not a typo), but it was legislative malpractice that in 2017 the best we could do was reduce the limit to 175% and call it a win. This bill would set the rate at 36% and not one percent more. From my perspective, this is a line in the sand.

6.      HJR 1.  1% from Permanent Fund for early childhood education. We may find other ways to expand funding for early childhood, given a budget surplus estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars, but we need to invest in our future and this is where it begins.

7.      HB 28- Automatic voter registration (although for a final prioritization in this area we should take Common Cause direction). 

8.      Popular Vote.  This was not among our priority bills, but given the 2016 election results, this seems a priority. I don’t recall how many states have signed on for this, but I think it is getting close to being approved by the number needed. I am not clear on the exact process to get this into law so that the popular vote carries the day in presidential elections.

9.      Solar Tax Credit Restoration.  This wasn’t on our list but that was because we knew it would never be signed by Martinez. Abbas Akhil wants to incorporate energy storage credit too–a very good idea. Aren’t you glad we got a climate scientist into the Roundhouse?

10.   Transition to Renewable Energy Plan with funding. I think Sen. McSorley is working on this and it is a good idea that could be wedded to the RPS bill we did include in our list of 29 bills. For those new to this, RPS is essentially the state’s non-binding goals in terms of our mix of renewables and other energy sources in the future. The bill McSorley is developing would presumably create funding and more binding objectives to put muscle to the RPS projections. Can you say 80% renewable energy statewide by 2030?

11.   Tax Reform. I am sure NM Voices for Children is putting together an updated set of priorities and we should follow Bill Jordan’s lead on this. Sadly, with Sen Smith and Sen Sanchez still in place, we may lose our most ambitious goal, but this is one worth fighting for. NM has the most regressive state tax system in the nation with our poorest tax payers paying almost 3 times the percentage of their income in state and local taxes, as our wealthiest tax payers. And don’t get me started on the myriad of corporate tax giveaways ushered in over the past 12 years.

 As noted above there may well be a few other bills we identify and after discussion, we may decide to drop one or two of these. But those are 11 damned good bills. Imagine March 16 and every single one of them is law and you can sit back on your couch and take pride in having been an important part of it.

Let’s Do This! If you can make it this Thursday, please write to me at paul@retakeourdemocracy.org. We’ll want to be sure we have tables and chairs, hopefully for a horde of you. 

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

 

 

One thought on “Roundhouse Advocacy: What We Can Achieve & How You Can Help + NM Private Prisons & Fracking Action Alerts

  1. Pingback: A Week In Review, An Urgent Action Call on the State of Fracking in NM and Thoughts on Bipartisanship from a Reader & My Response | Retake Our Democracy

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