URGENT ALERT: ACTION NEEDED NOW! Plus a Legislative Update; A Look Forward, and a Look Back at Last Week

This is why we do this. A team of advocates has been working for months with bill sponsors to develop SJR-3 aka The Green Amendment. An unfriendly amendment from Sen. Ivey-Soto threatens to undermine the bill’s intent and power. We must email and flood the phones TODAY, 8 – 9 am.

URGENT Action Alert

On February 3, Senate Rules Committee hearing on SJR-3 was held for the Environmental Rights Act (AKA The Green Amendment). During the hearing there was strong support for passage expressed by the public and the few Democrats who had a chance to speak, including Senator Wirth. But the committee ran out of time and the bill was carried over and is scheduled to be heard this morning.

In the meantime, Sen. Ivey-Soto, the chair of Rules, developed an amendment that offered some beneficial language but also includes language that undermines the intent and the power of the amendment. Negotiations involving the SJR-3 Steering Committee, bill sponsors, lawyers from the NM Environmental Law Center, and Sen. Ivey-Soto went on throughout the weekend. The sponsors even crafted their own amendment incorporating much of what Sen. Ivey-Soto had proposed, and while it appeared a deal was at hand, it was never reached.

Today at 9am, there will be a Senate Rules Committee hearing with SJR-3 first on the agenda. We need calls and emails starting NOW to Democrats on the Committee. Speaking points and contact info are below.

The Details & Background

SJR 3 Environmental Rights Act — AKA The New Mexico Green Amendment — proposes to amend our New Mexico Bill of Rights to include an enforceable right of all people, including future generations, to clean and healthy environment environments including water, air, climate and ecosystems, and to the natural, cultural, scenic and healthful qualities of the environment. 

The Steering Committee’s biggest concern is that Senator Ivey-Soto’s amendment removes referral to state trustee obligations which the attorneys from the NM Environmental Law Center, bill sponsors, and a judge advising the SJR-3 Steering Committee all feel will completely undermine the legal standing of the amendment. In addition, the added focus on “use” of resources, the loss of reference to flora and fauna, the failure to ensure a focus on “natural resources” all threaten the clarity of the amendment, its enforceability, and the environmental and environmental justice protections it would provide.

While it is always hard to anticipate the twists and turns of what could transpire this morning, at this point there are three options:

  1. SJR3 as introduced
  2. Sponsors’ Amendment to SJR3
  3. Senator Ivey-Soto’s Amendment to SJR3

It is essential the Rules Committee members only vote for option 1 or 2 . Please email and call all Democratic committee members NOW.

Email Language for Committee Members: Do not copy and paste. Use the language below to craft your own response.

Email Subject line: Vote for SJR3 as Introduced OR Bill Sponsor Amendment

“SJR-3 the Environmental Rights Act will be heard this morning, I urge you to vote for the Original Bill as introduced or the Sponsors’ own amendment to SJR 3, but not Senator Ivey-Soto’s proposed amendment. Senator Ivey-Soto’s amendment would undermine the power and purpose of SJR-3. Please only vote to support SJR-3 as introduced or the Sponsors’ amendment.”

Email Language for Senator Ivey-Soto:

Email Subject Line: Please withdraw your amendment to SJR-3

“I respectfully request that you consider withdrawing your amendment to SJR-3, the Environmental Rights Act and vote to pass SJR-3 as introduced or to support the Sponsors’ amendment that was informed by language from your amendment.”

If You Are Making Calls:

Be very brief: Simply state, I am a constituent of Senator X (if true) and I strongly support SJR-3 as introduced and oppose the amendment being offered by Sen. Ivey-Soto.”

Rules Committee Members are:

Legislative Update

There’s so much great legislation being heard this week. Already we have seven Transformational Bills and nine Priority Bills scheduled for hearings. We sent out an Alert about this Sunday afternoon, but with the Super Bowl, nachos, and beer competing for your attention, you may have missed it. So here is a link to the Alert to get up to speed. Lots of emails to send and calls to make.

Suggestion: I got this from a Retake advocate last year: She simply sets aside 30 minutes each morning to review the Alert, identify the bills she cares most about, and then make calls and send emails right away. She is done in 30 minutes, but feels as if she is doing her part with just that 30 minutes a day.

Suggestion II: If you have never actually watched a committee hearing, give it a shot. We hear all the time from folks saying some version of this: “I had never actually listened in to a hearing, but I’m addicted,” or “There are interesting discussions on bills I knew nothing about…”

Suggestion III: Likely most of you have a few bills or issue areas that are of the utmost importance to you. If that is the case, you may want to find them in our bill list, identify their “Committee Path” beneath each brief summary, and write to the Committee chair asking that the bill(s) in which you are most interested be scheduled for a hearing. A second strategy would be to write a letter to the editor about the bill. One hundred words is not too tough, especially given that you can lean on the summaries we provide. We have also developed a handy “Guide to Writing Letters to the Editor.” The guide provides sample letters, submission requirements for over two dozen publications, and more. If you get a letter published, you can then send it to legislators when they are going to vote on the bill.

Beyond the Legislative Session

While we must advocate TODAY for what we have on the table, we also need to identify an array of even bolder, more equitable initiatives and programs to advance our collective aspirations. At Noon today, the Democracy Collaborative is moderating a discussion with editors of a seminal collection of essays, The New Systems Reader: Alternatives to a Failed economy. Despite four hearings today, I plan to be on this Zoom as it will be an excellent way to find out more about 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 — most essays are just 4-5 pages.

If you are interested in being part of a deep study and discussion of ways to identify NM applications of the principles and practices from the Democracy Collaborative’s Next Systems Project and other sources, please write to us at RetakeResponse@gmail.com. Our work will include research, discussion and dialog with agencies and stakeholders to explore how we can take theory and test it in practice.

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 MT, 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.” I strongly recommend this book.

A Look Back at Some Important Posts

Last week we published some very informative posts. I usually like to point you to one or two that are particularly germane. That is simply not possible this week, as each post has something of great merit. One way to cut to the chase on these posts is to skip past the Legislative Updates and scroll to the feature story. Otherwise, if you missed any of the posts below, zero in on those.

HB 207: A Transformational Approach to Addressing Hunger in NM by Building Local Farm & Food Systems; Plus a Look Back at Last Week

Monday, February 1. In our look back at the prior week, we also included analysis of an important new bill, HB 207 the Farm, Hunger & Food Act. The bill has many facets and, if passed, promises to vastly improve our ability to grow foods and get them to local markets rather than ship them to other states. The bill would also offer a framework for investment in an array of food manufacturing ventures. This is a great bill. We precede the HB 207 review with two News in Briefs: one on a stunning environmental victory in Southern NM resulting from strong, sustained advocacy lead by NM environmentalists in and around Silver City. The second outlines all that is wrong with the GOP’s tepid “bipartisan” effort at COVID-19 relief. Lot’s in this post, so read on!

Click here to read the full post.

How We Fuel a NM Recovery: Evidence from 80 Years of US Economic Policy in Just Two Revealing Charts

Wednesday, February 3. After our regular Legislative Update, we provide two charts from a NY Times piece that triggers an analysis of how economic policies advanced by Democrats and the GOP have elicited stunningly different results, and how this should offer NM a lesson in how we tax, invest, and implement our own statewide recovery. If you missed this, the discussion of the import of the charts is concise and instructive.

Click here to read the full post.

3 Critical Energy Bills in Sen. Conservation TODAY at 9, plus a Guest Post on Gas & Oil

Thursday, February 4. We reached a crossroad on Thursday, three hugely important energy bills needed to pass their first hurdle. Expect to hear much testimony from Gas & Oil lobbyists spewing misinformation. The guest post skewers their misinformation with something they don’t like: facts. It is worth reviewing this post so you can read the guest post — we need to have the arguments raised by Diane Albert as we offer comment and/or write to our legislators.

Click here to read the full post.

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

Friday, February 5. In this post, we planted some seeds beneath the snow, seeds that we can nurture and grow this spring. We described new directions for Retake, directions we hope take us in unexpected places, with unexpected alliances, and new initiatives. Also we thanked Georgia and their 2 new Senators for the 50-50 Senate vote to pass the necessary Senate rule allowing the COVID relief plan to be passed without a single GOP vote. Finally, we acknowledged Biden for two more executive 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. We could get used to this. If you missed this post, check it out. Retake’s future direction could be a journey you want to join!

Click here to read the full post.

The Truth About How a State Public Bank Would Benefit New Mexicans; A Green Amendment Response to Critics; Ta-Nehisi Coates On the Capitol Insurrection

Saturday, February 6. In this post, we offer a short, clear guest post on why we need a Public Bank, plus a 28-minute interview with Maya van Rossum, founder of the Green Amendment, responding to concerns about SJR-3 the Environmental Rights Act, aka The Green Amendment. Lastly we included an insightful interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates on how we got where we are and where we go next.

Click here to read the full post.

In solidarity and hope,

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: Local-State Government & Legislation

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2 replies

  1. Hello all – Sorry I missed the update. I was in the field early and just now got in to read of this morning’s attempted treachery on SB3.

    Paul spoke of this on Saturday, and included the video from Maya van Rossum on the national effort to coalesce around the environmental bill of rights.

    In the same post, you also included Ta’nihisi Coates’ views on the history of slavery, which I heavily researched and responded to on Sat.

    As an ecologist, I have witnessed, in real time, for decades, the behavior of enslavement of the natural world, the Naturacide of the elite class and their henchmen. This is some of what I wrote:

    “Just as the southern slavers hammered their environment with invasive agriculture, the economics of northern chattel labor used Black, Irish, Mexican and Asian peoples to decimate the Louisiana Purchase of 95 percent of its wildlife, pristine forests, unmined terrain, clean air and clean water. Rosseau’s earlier lament about the enslavement of ‘savague’ land went unheeded.

    Thoreau, the father of environmentalism, was also an abolitionist, and walked to his death on a cold, wintry day early in the Civil War (in Maryland, I think), which resulted in consumption, and he died the next year, in 1862. . .

    Watch closely, as the ancient seeds of slavery are spread about in our own legislature. We in NM are the ilk of many ancient cultures, with long memories.

    You talk about the hemming and hawing, the caution of some moderate Dems, the openly brash and arrogant behaviors of the Steve Pearce Party of Extinct Rs, They literally hate anything that walks, flies, crawls, swims or burrows, unless they can kill it and hang it on a wall. Or enslave it and complain that it just doesn’t cut the mustard to be a real ‘murkan, so why see it as important.

    Our legislature is made of patronage, much of it landed gentry of various types. Democracy is as old as the Greeks. But they, too, held slaves. 5,000 years is a long time to hold onto fear without a mental breakdown.”

    Enter supposedly ‘safe’ Dem Ivey-Soto. I do not know of the outcome of this hearing, but suffice it to say, even if it passes Rules without being demolished, it will then be subjected to the same ‘Failure of the Commons’ argument as it did today. Soon enough, a rationalization will surface that NM’s shortage of water is the fault of the trees and shrubs that grow on the land, and all those elk, deer and birds that take a drink without permission from the overlords.

    Despite heroic efforts here and elsewhere, the 5100-year-old mind of enslavement is still with us. The enslavers, rife with fear, rage, guilt and self-loathing for not being born perfect and immortal, project and transfer their crimes onto us, the chattel, who do their dirty work for them under the guise of ‘the economy.’

    Read Thoreau’s ‘Economy’ to visualize what that ecological profit-and-loss statement looks like. If we cannot balance the books of environmental and human justice with government, then we must do without it. We have ten years to rescue, recover and re-generate a NEW ecological resiliency that harmonizes with climate disruption and uses Aikido to bring the practice of Earth enslavement to its knees, or flat on its stomach.

    We are not Don Quixote. We are the ilk of the prisoners of the Bastille, and we break free or die trying.

    Mick Nickel


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