The Governor’s call has been announced and there are some surprising omissions. Plus report from Hedges on the threat from the Christian right.
Governor Announces Her Initial Call
While she can still add more bills to her “call,” the Governor has announced her initial list of 24 bills that she wants the legislature to consider in 2020. The complete list, as published by the Governor and posted on her website, is provided below along with a list of bills Retake has been researching that are not yet on the call.
The session begins Tues., Jan. 21, so please come to our Legislative Launch meeting to discuss bills, strategies, and how you can be an advocate in the 2020 session.
Retake Our Democracy, 2020 Legislative Session Planning. Jan. 21, 6:30pm – 8:00pm, 1420 Cerrillos Rd. Please RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or via Facebook at this link.
Before we get to the initial Governors call, let’s look at the threat from Christian Fascists, another extraordinary piece from Chris Hedges.
Hedges Points to Alarming Threat of Fascism from Extremist Christians
Like no other journalist I know, Chris Hedges can start an article with the most remarkable summary of what he intends to cover. The quote below from Dec. 30, 2019, “Onward Christian Fascists,” is a perfect example. The remainder of the article provides example after example of the pervasive threat of fascism stemming from the white evangelical community. He also points to parallels with Nazi Germany, the conditions that nourish the evangelical descent toward fascism, and the only way to reverse that trend. Here is Hedges’ opening paragraph.
The greatest moral failing of the liberal Christian church was its refusal, justified in the name of tolerance and dialogue, to denounce the followers of the Christian right as heretics. By tolerating the intolerant it ceded religious legitimacy to an array of con artists, charlatans and demagogues and their cultish supporters. It stood by as the core Gospel message—concern for the poor and the oppressed—was perverted into a magical world where God and Jesus showered believers with material wealth and power. The white race, especially in the United States, became God’s chosen agent. Imperialism and war became divine instruments for purging the world of infidels and barbarians, evil itself. Capitalism, because God blessed the righteous with wealth and power and condemned the immoral to poverty and suffering, became shorn of its inherent cruelty and exploitation. The iconography and symbols of American nationalism became intertwined with the iconography and symbols of the Christian faith. The mega-pastors, narcissists who rule despotic, cult-like fiefdoms, make millions of dollars by using this heretical belief system to prey on the mounting despair and desperation of their congregations, victims of neoliberalism and deindustrialization. These believers find in Donald Trump a reflection of themselves, a champion of the unfettered greed, cult of masculinity, lust for violence, white supremacy, bigotry, American chauvinism, religious intolerance, anger, racism and conspiracy theories that define the central beliefs of the Christian right. ““Onward Christian Fascists” by Chris Hedges
Hedges points out that in a recent poll, 99% of those identifying as evangelical Protestants oppose impeachment. How is it possible that people who are supposed to embrace a religion based on love and concern for the poor could fall into lock step with a President so devoid of Christian values? Hedges offers this explanation:
Tens of millions of Americans live hermetically sealed inside the vast media and educational edifice controlled by Christian fascists. In this world, miracles are real, Satan, allied with secular humanists and Muslims, is seeking to destroy America, and Trump is God’s anointed vessel to build the Christian nation and cement into place a government that instills “biblical values.” These “biblical values” include banning abortion, protecting the traditional family, turning the Ten Commandments into secular law, crushing “infidels,” especially Muslims, indoctrinating children in schools with “biblical” teachings and thwarting sexual license, which includes any sexual relationship other than in a marriage between a man and a woman. Trump is routinely compared by evangelical leaders to the biblical king Cyrus, who rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem and restored the Jews to the city. ““Onward Christian Fascists” by Chris Hedges
Given how blindly these evangelical Christians fall in line with anything that Trump does, it is positively frightening how many fundamentalist Christians are among his cabinet or other positions of power. Hedges offers this partial list:
- Mike Pence, Vice President;
- Betsy DeVos, Dept. of Education;
- Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State;
- William Barr, Attorney General
- Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, Supreme Court, and
- Televangelist Paula White to his Faith and Opportunities Initiative
It gets worse. Hedges also notes that Trump has appointed 133 district court judges out of 677 total and 50 appeals court judges out of 179 total, and that almost all of these judges were vetted and selected by the Federalist Society and the Christian right. Many of these appointees were deemed unqualified by the American Bar Association, but that did not deter Trump to appoint them and the weak-kneed Senate to approve the appointments.
If this weren’t bad enough, Hedges points out that by Executive Order Trump reversed the Johnson Amendment, a regulation that prohibited tax-exempt churches from supporting or endorsing political candidates.
Hedges was a divinity student at Harvard, where he studied under James Luther Adams who lived in Germany in 1935 and 1936. Adams pointed out how the Christian Church in Germany described Hitler as a Messiah and instrument of God, much as many evangelicals on the right describe Trump. Are you frightened yet? German film Director Werner Herzog stated in July:
Dear America: You are waking up as Germany once did, to the awareness that 1/3 of your people would kill another 1/3, while 1/3 watches.”Werner Herzog
Hedges points to how Christian fascists require a crisis to fully launch their messianic plans. And we certainly have crises lurking on all sides, whether from an economy built on a house of cards, a climate serving up disasters on a weekly basis, a looming threat of war with Iran, the imagined threat posed by immigrants at our border or, the election of a progressive Democrat as president. Hedges posits that any of these events could trigger a desperate reaction from white evangelicals.
He also points out how many of those who have fallen under the spell of evangelicals are Americans who feel that government has for decades failed to address their needs, a dynamic described so well by Arlie Russell Hochschild in her powerful book, Strangers in their Own Land, a book I discussed at length in a post published almost three years ago, “Understanding the Conservative Mind.”
Hedges concludes by asserting that the only way to prevent the advance of fascism is to address the root alienation and disaffection of those who feel left out. And this can only be achieved with a kind of visionary, progressive platform such as advanced by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
In a post to be published soon, Retake will offer ways in which you can support either of these candidates from home. The post will include a strong exhortation to resist the temptation of falling into the media’s trap and the right wing’s dream: supporters of Warren and Trump demonizing each other. These are the only Democratic candidates who can substantially reverse the US’ course and address the conditions that breed desperation and a turn to fascism. Sanders and Warren supporters simply can’t begin vilifying each other. And should one of them win the nomination, the pivot to supporting that nominee must be swift, sincere, and enthusiastic.
We obviously are in perilous times and these times require all of us to step up and become even more engaged in our advocacy for justice, decency, and democracy. Stay tuned.
Governor’s List of Legislative Priorities
The Governor’s call has been published on the Governor’s website (listed below). Many of the bills listed have not been pre-filed and so there are no bill numbers associated with the descriptions. As they are pre-filed, Retake will review and consider which to support.
Bills directly related to budget, taxes, and revenue are not included on “the call,” as they are automatically germane, as are Memorials and bills calling for a State Constitutional Amendment. So the list below is not complete and, as noted above, the Governor can add more bills to her “call” at any time during the session. After reviewing the list more carefully and speaking with bill sponsors and allies, Retake will send an Alert to the Statewide Response Network with a list of bills we urge you to ask the Governor to put on her call. To sign up for the Network, click the “Get Legislative Alerts” button on the right of the home page.
There are quite a few bills that Retake is considering supporting that are not on the Governor’s call list, including:
- SB 80, Community Solar Act, is not listed and there is no reference to community solar, a surprise given that Speaker Egolf is introducing a community solar bill, which was a Retake Must-Pass bill from 2019.
- HB 16 Paid Family and Medical Leave Act
- HB 25 Pregnant Worker Accommodation Act
- HB 68 Patient Safe Staffing Act, a Retake Priority Bill from 2019
- HB 72 Immigration Detention Facilities Act
- HB 81 Small Loan Rate Caps protects low-income individuals from predatory loan rates, a Retake Must-Pass bill from 2019
- HB 82 Increase Minimum Wage
- HB 108, Disclosure of Personal Information By State Agencies, a bill to protect immigrants’ information from being shared with ICE and other federal offices, a Retake Must-Pass bill from 2019
- SB 90 Requiring State Agencies to Develop and Implement Policies to Decrease Institutional Racism.
Bills on the Governor’s Call
Priorities are education, economy, public safety, health, and the environment
From the Governor’s website, her call for the 2020 legislative session includes:
Early Childhood Trust Fund (HB83, Representative Gallegos & Senator Smith). Providing a dedicated and self-sustaining revenue stream to fund early childhood programs into the future, delivering a permanent investment in our youngest children. Part of the governor’s agenda to expand the education moonshot to begin from a child’s earliest days, the Early Childhood Trust Fund (ECTF) will fulfill a promise to parents and the next generation of families of New Mexico, created with a $320 million one-time initial appropriation. Centered on fiscal responsibility with financial safeguards built in, the ECTF will launch a positive and self-fulfilling cycle of investment and opportunity in our families and young children.
New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship (Representative Salazar)
Establishing tuition-free college for New Mexico residents, extending the education moonshot through greater access to higher education and careers. Estimated to benefit 55,000 New Mexico students, the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship will cover tuition and fees at any of the state’s 29 public institutions of higher education, providing up to four or two years of college for recent high school graduates and two years of college for returning adults. Funded with a $35 million appropriation to the Higher Education Department, the Opportunity Scholarship will remove the barrier of tuition costs, restoring the original promise of the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship, enabling more New Mexicans to obtain college degrees and certificates, resulting in better employment opportunities, higher overall incomes and a stronger workforce for New Mexico’s economy.
Recreational Cannabis (Representative J. Martinez). Legalizing the use of recreational cannabis in New Mexico and establishing a regulatory framework for its use, including public safety considerations, public health safeguards, and the protection of the state’s existing medical cannabis program. Supported by 75 percent of New Mexicans in a recent poll, the legalization of recreational cannabis is projected to create 11,000 New Mexico jobs and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
PERA Solvency (SB72, Senator Munoz, Senator Smith, Senator Neville, Representative Lundstrom, Representative Roybal Caballero)
Delivering essential and equitable reform to the state pension system, setting the state on a course to eliminate the current $6.6 billion unfunded liability and accommodating the concerns of current and future state of New Mexico retirees while establishing safeguards against the effects of future economic downturns. Requiring shared responsibility in order to ensure New Mexico’s public pension system remains one of the best in the country, the fix for the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) ensures that the pension system is solvent within 25 years; strengthens recruitment and retention of public employees; ensures that cost-of-living adjustments are sustainable; has been endorsed by the PERA board; and makes important accomodations for the most senior and most vulnerable retirees; in all, ensuring a sustainable future for PERA.
Lift Cap on Economically Targeted Investments as Percentage of Severance Tax Permanent Fund (Senator Campos). Raising the cap on economically targeted investments (ETIs) from the Severance Tax Permanent Fund (STPF) in order to ensure sufficient headroom between the investment cap and the investment target, enabling the State Investment Council to implement its recent policy decision to increase the target ETIs out of the STPF from five percent to nine percent. Unanimously approved by the SIC, increasing the target percentage of the fund to be invested in ETIs allows for an additional $200 million to be invested in New Mexico businesses, building on the significant investments in small business Gov. Lujan Grisham and the Legislature delivered in 2019.
Electric Generating Facility Economic District Act (Representative Lundstrom). Guidance on the next steps for the surrounding communities affected by the potential closing of the Escalante Power Plant, allowing McKinley County to establish a new special district use and a new authority for the purpose of converting the existing power plant site into a new industrial site. Specifically crafted to have expertise in the area of redevelopment, the new district authority board and staff will work to repurpose the area for the attraction of best-fit industrial companies.
Extreme-Risk Protection Order (SB5, Senator Cervantes, Representative Ely, Representative Garratt) Giving law enforcement an additional tool to prevent gun violence by enabling the use of extreme-risk protection orders, allowing firearms and ammunition to be temporarily removed by court order from someone threatening themselves or others. Proactive, constitutional, and proven effective, extreme-risk protection orders will allow police and family to take direct action, while following due process, that enables law enforcement to protect New Mexico communities and those most at risk of harming themselves. In a state with the eighth-highest rate of gun deaths in the nation, with a suicide rate at least 50% higher than the national average when over 50% of suicides are caused by firearm, this common-sense measure, a version of which has already been enacted by 17 states and the District of Columbia, will enhance New Mexicans’ public safety.
Increased Penalties for Use of a Firearm in a Non-Capital Felony, Possession of a Firearm by a Felon, Use of a Firearm in Drug Trafficking (Representative Rehm)
Part of a coordinated effort to target cartels, gangs and violent criminals.
Increased Penalties for Violations of New Mexico State Racketeering Laws Increasing penalties for drug trafficking and adding a “kingpin provision” to the New Mexico Racketeering Act specifically directed at targeting organized crime and drug trafficking.
Threats and Acts of Mass Violence (Representative Hochman-Vigil) Creating penalties for those who make threats disrupting public educational or governmental institutions, including those who engage in cyberattacks against public institutions, and expanding the state’s Anti-Terrorism Act to criminalize terroristic threats and conduct. The proposal originated at the bipartisan Domestic Terrorism Summit convened by the governor earlier this year.
Criminal Penalties for Operating a Vehicle Chop Shop (Representative Akhil) Creating penalties for the destruction and resale of illegally-obtained vehicles and the operation of institutions conducting such practices, commonly referred to as “chop shops.”
Sex Offender Registration Requirements (HB43, Representative McQueen)
Broadening state sex offender registration requirements to require those who are registered as a sex offender in another state to register as such in New Mexico, in addition to requiring sex offender registration for those convicted of human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children by prostitution.
Increased Distribution From Law Enforcement Protection Fund for Acute Crime Interventions (Representative Ruiloba) Increasing the annual distribution limit to New Mexico law enforcement departments from the Law Enforcement Protection Fund from $20,000 to $45,000 per department and from $600 to $1,000 for each individual officer, enabling additional available funding for law enforcement training and equipment across the state. Furthermore, it enables a distribution to State Police of up to $2 million annually for special deployment use after all local law enforcement distributions have been made.
Increased Penalties for Human Trafficking. Expanding the definition of human trafficking in New Mexico, increasing felony penalties, creating a minimum term of imprisonment of three years in circumstances in which the victim is under the age of sixteen, and precluding authorities from charging victims of human trafficking with prostitution.
Drug Importation (SB1, Senator Papen & Representative D. Armstrong)
Creating the Office of Wholesale Drug Importation at the Department of Health and authorizing it to develop, plan, apply for, and negotiate with the federal government for approval of a Canadian wholesale drug importation plan, ensuring drug safety and significantly reducing drug costs for New Mexicans, who currently pay roughly twice as much for brand name drugs than Canadians.
Residency Requirements for Medical Cannabis Program Enrollment (Senator Ortiz y Pino) Amending the 2019 legislation regarding residency requirements for the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program to clarify that only residents of the state of New Mexico shall participate in the state’s medical cannabis program in order to protect the program and its patients.
Increasing Access and Affordability in the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange (HB100, Representative D. Armstrong & Representative Cadena) Strengthening New Mexico’s own health insurance coverage and health care laws and systems by giving the board of the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange needed flexibility to increase access and affordability of health insurance plans for New Mexicans. Additionally, codifying into New Mexico state law key provisions of the Affordable Care Act to ensure that New Mexico continues to maintain a strong health insurance exchange.
Tobacco Licensing and Tobacco and E-Cigarette Sales (Senator Lopez & Representative Thomson) Creating a regulatory licensing system for the manufacturing, distribution and retail of tobacco products, to be administered by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division at the Regulation and Licensing Department, and raising the legal age for purchases of e-cigarette and other tobacco products from 18 to 21, aligning New Mexico law with recently enacted federal law, in addition to creating criminal penalties for those who sell these products to purchasers under the age of 21.
Kiki Saavedra Senior Dignity Fund (Representative D. Armstrong) Creating a $25 million trust fund to address high-priority areas for seniors across New Mexico to include transportation, food insecurity, physical and behavioral health services, case management, and caregiver services. The funding will address increased access for seniors and adults with disabilities, including veterans, to receive specialty physical and behavioral health care most often only provided in urban areas; increased access to ADA vehicles for seniors and adults with disabilities not able to participate in senior center events, congregate meals and local appointments due to inadequate services; and care coordination through community health workers. Named for the late state Representative Henry “Kiki” Saavedra in honor of his many incredible years of service to New Mexicans, the fund will continue his legacy by specifically targeting expanded access to critical services for one of the state’s most vulnerable populations.
Solar Tax Credit (SB29, Senator Stewart) Renewing a prior tax credit for residential, commercial and agricultural solar, proven successful, that previously expired in 2016. Creating an income tax credit of 10% of the purchase and installation costs, with a maximum aggregate of $10 million, to make solar more accessible for New Mexico residences and businesses and enable New Mexicans to take full advantage of the state’s plentiful solar energy.
Electric Vehicle Tax Credit (Senator Woods & Representative J. Trujillo. Creating a $2,500 tax credit for the purchase or lease of an electric vehicle and a $300 tax credit for the installation of at-home charging infrastructure, enabling more New Mexicans to purchase electric vehicles and utilize the electric vehicle framework expanded across the state in last year’s session. The tax credit is doubled for low-income purchasers, enabling a $5,000 tax credit.
PRC Reform (Representative Small). Making structural changes to the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) to improve the agency’s functionality for the public, the regulated community, intervenors in dockets, and PRC commissioners and staff. This good-government initiative will result in an agency fully staffed with technical experts that produces timely docket processes and decisions, consistent regulatory outcomes grounded in the law, and fewer ethics complaints and allegations of misconduct, in addition to the possibility of greater investment in the electricity, pipeline, and water infrastructure needed to keep New Mexico’s economy growing.
IRB Authority for Transmission Lines (SB6, Senator Neville & Senator Candelaria) Establishing the authority for counties to issue Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRBs) with the purpose of funding transmission line projects, creating a funding mechanism to deploy more transmission lines across the state.
Community Energy Efficiency Block Grants (Senator Ortiz y Pino Creating an Energy Efficiency Block Grant Program, administered by the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, to provide grants for energy efficiency improvements for low-income households. Established with a $2.5 million appropriation in order to enable low-income households to reduce their utility bills, improve their comfort, and minimize their climate change footprint.
Paul and Roxanne