COVID-Relief Passes US Senate 50-50; Legislative Update; A Look Beyond the 2021 Session

Today, we plant some seeds beneath the snow, seeds that we can nurture and grow this spring. Also we thank Georgia (2 new Senators) for the COVID relief and Biden for more exec orders that bring smiles to our faces. It must be said that thus far Biden has been more activist and progressive than we’d expected.

Sorry this post is late! Please see below for Sierra Club webinar today at Noon on HB 9 Climate Solutions Act.

Thank You Georgia: We Owe This One
(and likely much more) To You!
Senate Passes COVID Package 50-50

NPR reported in “Senate Passes Budget Resolution; Vice President Harris Breaks Tie,” that this morning at 5:30am, after an all-night session, the Senate passed a budget resolution 50-50 with VP Harris casting the deciding vote. The resolution goes to the House today and if they pass the resolution without amendment, the Senate can then pass the full $1.9 trillion relief package by a 50-50 vote with VP Harris again casting the deciding vote.

More good news from D.C.: In the past week, Biden has signed executive orders withdrawing funding from Saudi Arabia for its war on Yemen, a huge action, as Yemen is literally starving and withering under US-funded Saudi attacks. Biden also announced intention of eliminating $60 billion in gas and oil subsidies. That, along with the fracking moratorium, makes it a very bad week for gas and oil.

Legislative Update

The Bills We Support. So far we’ve had no bills derailed, but that’s not uncommon in the opening weeks before bills start to hit more challenging committees like Senate Finance and House Appropriations & Finance. But there are some developments worth reporting:

  • A new omnibus tax bill is coming soon from Rep. Javier Martinez and we are told it will include several components designed to generate more revenue, deliver relief to working New Mexicans, and generate hundreds of millions of recurring revenue for our state budget. We are hearing all kinds of opposing comment, all coming from business lobbyists and the Chamber of Commerce. When gas and oil prices were low, they crowed this was no time to pass new taxes; now that oil prices have risen, they crow we have no need for new taxes. The truth is we have no need for these crows. We are working with NM Voices for Children on on countering arguments. Stay tuned.
  • Two new bills have been introduced addressing the needs of rural NM and an array of food, farm, and hunger needs. HB 16 Rural Opportunities Interim Committees Act and HB 207 Food, Hunger and Farm Act are both Transformation Bills and worth your review. The links above take you to our summaries of why they are good for NM.

Legislative Advocacy Huddle: Friday, 3:30 – 4:30 pm. We will be discussing opposition concerns expressed in committee hearings and how we can counter them, as well as get updates on what transpired this week. Finally, it is time to consider how best to use our newfound relationships with legislators, particularly in the Senate, to push the bills we support through. The weekly Huddle is an excellent way to secure a solid understanding of how the legislature really works and how you can best advocate for the bills you support. Click here to register.

HB 9 Climate Solutions Act is being heard Saturday at 9 am in House Energy Environment and Natural Resources. Details on the hearing are in this morning’s Legislative Alert. This bill was introduced late and because we didn’t have a clear understanding of what it entailed, we opted to place SB 112, Senator Stewart’s Economic Transition Task Force bill, in our Transformational bills and HB 9 in our Priority Bills. Once the Abortion Ban Repeal is on its way to the Governor, perhaps as early as next week, we may have a slot for one additional Transformational bill and HB 9 is one being considered. Today at noon — we know it’s late — the Sierra Club is hosting a discussion on the bill. See below:

WEBINAR TODAY Learn about the Climate Solutions Act and how to get it passed!  Noon FRIDAY/TODAY 

We will host a lobby training TODAY, Friday, at noon about the Climate Solutions Act. Register here to learn more about this build from the experts.

HB 9: Climate Solutions Act puts into law the carbon-reduction goals in Gov. Lujan Grisham’s 2019 climate executive order and works to address the transition to renewables and the economy of New Mexico in an equitable manner. It will be heard at 9 a.m. by the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee. We are asking people to join the Zoom call and either give a public comment or be prepared to click “raise hand” when they ask for a count of those in support (by the way, you are not on camera on Zoom unless you speak, and you can have your camera off even then if you want!). We want to show massive support for this bill! After HB9, HB15 will be heard, which strengthens incentives for sustainable buildings, offering tax credits for EV-ready and zero-net-energy new homes and buildings. 

Seeds Beneath the Snow:
Our Priorities Come Spring

While sitting in hearings listening to both industry lobbyists and moderate Democrats hem and haw over bold action I’ve realized that significant effort needs to be invested in redefining what “bold” means. We need to work proactively to develop a shared understanding of what it means and how it can inform the development of both future legislation and future pilot projects that can demonstrate the efficacy of specific manifestations of bold action.

When we launched the Transformation Study Group (TSG) our intent had been to organize a small group to begin researching far-reaching, unapologetically bold policies and initiatives that provide the bones and sinew to a progressive agenda. That work was hard to sustain with a June primary, a November election, a Georgia election and now the legislative session. So we have put a pause on this work as we focus on the 2021 legislative session but, come Spring, research will resume.

At our last board meeting we discussed broadly how Retake might begin to formulate a clear set of principles, programs, and priorities that articulate a vision for social, climate, racial, and economic justice that is palpable and filled with initiatives and research that could be implemented in NM. We want to develop briefs that speak to the ways these initiatives could benefit both communities of color and communities in poverty as well as tribal and rural NM. Part of this work will involve dialog with allies, legislators, and communities, as well as Zoominars for the public.

The Democracy Collaborative and their “Next Systems Project” have been a major resource for Retake Our Democracy and its Transformation Study Group. They are moderating a discussion with some of the editors of a seminal collection of essays, The New Systems Reader: Alternatives to a Failed economy. This would be an excellent way to introduce yourself to some of the initiatives captured in the book. I have the book and am pouring over it even during the session. I concur with Bill McKibbon, below. It is a tremendous collection that can be read in small doses, as most essays are but 4-5 pages.

Join James Gustave (“Gus”) Speth, who with Kathleen Courrier is co-editor of The New Systems Reader, and Thad Williamson, who is the author of The New Systems Reader Guide, as they discuss the possibilities of a more equitable and sustainable economy emerging from the ruins of our current crises. The webinar is hosted by the Sustainability Curriculum Consortium and will begin at Noon, Monday, February 8Register for the event here

Bill McKibben calls The New Systems Reader “a collection of important visions about how we might rethink our economy.” Its 29 chapters analyze the failures of neoliberal economics and the various answers some of the world’s top thinkers and change-makers are coming up with to the deep questions of how we create a new system.Order the book now direct from the publisher using the discount code “SS225.”

That’ it for today. Sorry to be so late but the session is all-consuming.

In solidarity and hope.

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: Economic Justice, Community & Economic Development

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