Today: news on Lyla June’s hunger strike, last week’s Roundhouse highlights & what’s coming up, a report on a serious Bernie surge in Iowa & across the nation, and bad news for Trump as cracks in his support surface.
Retake Our Democracy on KSFR 101.1 FM, Saturday 8:30am– 9 am. Today, January 25, I interview Speaker Brian Egolf. Last week I interviewed Aaron El Sabrout, New Energy Economy staff attorney from North Africa. Access our podcasts by clicking here.
Lyla June Johnston Continues Hunger Strike for the Climate
Lyla June Johnston, who is challenging Speaker Brian Egolf in House District 47, has conducted a hunger strike all week, announcing a new plank to her environmental platform on the Roundhouse steps at 11am each day. Drop by today or Sunday to lend her some support and to hear about her platform.
The Roundup will be a weekend feature throughout the session, as we break down what has transpired each week and what is coming in the next week, at least what we can see in our crystal ball.
Things are starting to take off, with 450 bills introduced by the end of Friday. Retake researchers are combing over all the bills and our Leadership Team is reviewing researcher summaries, speaking with allies and bill sponsors and developing a growing list of bills we support. By the end of the weekend all bills will have descriptions and links to the full bill language. Most bills will have links to one-page summaries and “bill paths,” which are the committee assignments that the bills must pass through to survive.
What happened in Week 1
Tuesday the Session opened, committee assignments were made, and the Governor spoke. Wednesday committees began meeting, but only focused on organizational issues with the Senate Committees Committee and the House Rules and Order of Business committees reviewing bills to determine which would be considered “germane.” This is a vital decision because bills not deemed germane by one of these committees are dead on arrival. But we have been pleasantly surprised, as far more of the bills that we were considering supporting were deemed germane.
Thursday and Friday committees began hearing bills. Bills supported by Retake Our Democracy all passed their first hurdles, including:
- SB 1 Whole Prescription Drugs Importation Act, which would allow the state to import prescription drugs from Canada, an action that is projected to significantly reduce drug prices in NM and send a message to the pharma industry.
- SB 4 Complete 2020 Census Count. This bill would provide $8 million to Dept of Finance and Administration to fund “outreach efforts to achieve a statewide complete count in the 2020 Census.” Since Federal spending to states is determined by the census count, it is vitally important that NM do a better job in 2020. In 2010, NM ranked 49th in effectiveness in obtaining a complete count, undercounting by 2%. New Mexico Counts estimate that “a mere 1% undercount of New Mexico’s population in 2020 would result in a $780,000,000 loss of federal funds” over the next decade. So a repeat of our 2% undercount would result in the loss of over $1.5 billion in federal funding over the decade. The program will dispense funding to jurisdictions as well as to community based agencies with trusted roots in the communities, an especially important bill factor in Hispanic communities fearful of how the government will use this information.
- SB 24 Individual Development Account (IDA). The bill would appropriate $1 million from the general fund to the Workforce Solutions Department to expand the IDA program in NM. IDA programs provide financial literacy and matching funds to incentivize low-income participants to open savings accounts and build wealth. Research shows that even a small IDA account can buffer families against sudden costly emergencies and keep them out of the hands of predatory lenders charging up to 175% in interest.
- HJR 1. Permanent Funds for Early Childhood. A bill that would create a constitutional amendment that would go to the voters in November. If passed, HJR 1 would raise the amount of the permanent fund’s annual distribution from 5% to 6%, with the added 1% going to early childhood. Passage would provide a significant level of stable funding to vastly improve early childhood programs in NM.
For more on these bills and Retake’s initial list of Priority Bills, click here. At the bottom of that page you can find a link to “The Fate of Retake’s 2019 Bills” where you can see what bills we supported, what bills passed into law, and what bills were killed in which committee.
We had Retake volunteers at each of these hearings with coordinators outside the hearing rooms to provide speaking points and buttons to those who wanted to offer public comment. In the HJR 1 hearing, Rep. Ruilobo held up one of Retake’s one-page bill summaries and quoted it incredulously, only to have the bill sponsor reply, “I am glad you asked this question, as Retake has it 100% correct.” We have been told that the bill summaries given to all legislators before hearings are becoming an increasingly trusted source of information.
With all four bills passing we are off to a great start.
What’s Coming Next Week
Several bills are scheduled for hearings next week and there are actions planned on Monday and Tuesday. By Monday night, hearings will likely be scheduled for the rest of the week, and the best source for information on hearings for the bills we support is to sign up for our daily Alerts. Click the “Get Legislative Alerts” button on the right side of the home page to keep informed. We could use many more of you at the Roundhouse next week as so many good bills will meet their fate.
Looking into our crystal ball for next week, we find:
- Monday begins with an 8:30 a.m. hearing for HB 65 School-Based Health Clinics, a great bill sponsored by Rep. Liz Thomson. SB 3 will also be heard Monday. This is the bill that would create a trust fund for early childhood. Retake prefers that the legislature pass HJR 1, which would provide 15 times as much funding to early childhood as SB 3. And, Monday is Somos Un Pueblo Unido’s Immigrant and Workers Day of Action at the Roundhouse with details below.
- Tuesday will be a full day, with both Cannabis Regulation Act (SB 115) and SB 5 Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order heard in Senate Public Affairs. Because of the huge crowd anticipated, the hearing will be held on the Senate Floor at 1:30pm.
- Tuesday is also Environment Day at the Roundhouse, with legislative advocacy training offered by the Sierra Club, along with a lunch and other activities. Click here for more on this and to sign up. In case you missed it, Sierra Club has endorsed Teresa Leger de Fernandez for US Congressional District III.
- Tuesday, HM 9 / HB 99 will be heard at 8:00 a.m. in House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee. These bills were drafted by Santa Fe activist Greg Sonnenfeld, who did a remarkable job researching and drafting the bills and identifying legislators to sponsor them. The bills would fund the completion of a strategic plan to guide the state’s expanded investment in renewable energy generation, storage and distribution. Together, these bills have the potential to significantly accelerate NM state investment in renewable infrastructure and expedite a just transition.
Bernie Building Momentum
The latest Iowa polls show Bernie building a significant lead, with 25% of Iowans favoring his candidacy. Buttigeg follows with 18%, Biden 17% and Warren 15%. This is a big jump for Sanders. At the same time, a national poll this week projected Sanders to have passed Biden, and another national poll indicated that Sanders would beat Trump by 7%, the largest margin of any Democrat. These gains come in the face of Hillary Clinton’s withering criticism of Sanders and rumblings of President Obama initiating attacks as well. We can expect those attacks to escalate. There is no question that the powers that be will continue these attacks and should they succeed in derailing Sanders’ campaign, those same powers will focus their aim on Elizabeth Warren. The 1% and the corporatocracy want no part of either candidate, as either one would significantly challenge the status quo. Stay tuned.
Is A Crack Developing In the GOP?
There are cracks surfacing. Nearly daily, more damning evidence is unearthed. Republicans for the Rule of Law, a group of anti-Trump conservatives, said the two ads will run nationally on both “Fox & Friends” on Fox News and “Lou Dobbs Tonight” on Fox Business every day next week. See video below.
Polling is beginning to show shifts in the views of the American public, with a surprising number paying close attention to the impeachment hearings. A Reuters poll released two days ago revealed that not only are over 66% of Americans paying close attention, over 70% feel that witnesses should be heard and that the Senators should act “as impartial jurors.” A separate CNN poll found over 50% of Americans want Trump removed from office. Lastly, there are rumblings of GOP Senators wanting witnesses to be called. If polling data continues to trend in this direction, some GOP Senators will perhaps develop spines and a sense of ethics. From Reuters:
About 72% agreed that the trial “should allow witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the impeachment charges to testify,” including 84% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans. And 70% of the public, including 80% of Democrats and 73% of Republicans, said senators should “act as impartial jurors” during the trial.
About 40% of Americans said they had a favorable view of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, while 60% said they have an unfavorable view of him.
The poll showed that two out of three Americans are paying attention to the proceedings, with Democrats more interested than Republicans.”Reuters
That’s it for the Roundup. Hope to see you at the Roundhouse next week.
Paul & Roxanne