Want to help to transform the Dem. Party of NM… in an hour? Working the legislature is heavy lifting, lots of time and focus. Ditto the primary and general election circuits. But state party reform is much less intensive. We need just an hour of your time and the return on investment could be staggering. Really, it could actually involve far less than an hour.
Legislative Update: We’re Making Some Progress
Yesterday was a big day. As we get closer to the end of the Session (March 20), things begin to move more quickly….or not. Yesterday’s Alert at this link offers info on bills we support that have been stuck in committee for two weeks or more in addition to info on what you can do to get these bills unstuck and moving. Now let’s look at several important bills that are advancing:
- HB 20 Healthy Workplaces Act (paid sick leave) passed on the House floor and is now headed to the Senate. This should be interesting, as the Governor has signaled she may not sign the bill if it passes. Stay tuned.
- SB 66 Permitted Percentage Rates for Loans has passed through its committee hurdles and now is on the Senate floor for a vote. SB 66 would limit predatory lending rates to 36% and is a bill we’ve been pushing for since 2017. This is hugely important for our essential workers who often fall prey to predatory lenders when a sudden financial emergency hits. A $500 loan can translate into $5,000 in debt, a repossessed car, and a long struggle to restore your credit.
- SB 112 Sustainable Economy Task Force is also on the Senate floor for a vote. SB 112 would establish a Task Force to coordinate state agencies in develop a strategic plan for transitioning to a sustainable economy.
- SB 84 Community Solar is on the Senate floor. SB 84 would allow for tribes, pueblos, non-profit or for profit organizations, and municipalities to develop solar installations of up to 5 megawatts. This would allow individuals who can’t afford to install solar on their homes to access renewable energy
- HB 262 Energy Storage Tax Credit is on the House Floor. SB 262 would use a $1 million allocation each year to allow home owners to access a tax credit to install solar storage at their home. In speaking with former Rep. Abbas Akhil this morning, he estimates this tax credit would help 200 homes install storage units every year.
- HB 124 State Agency Sensitive Info is on the House floor. HB 124 would force the state to protect confidential information on individuals and prevent them from sharing this information with other agencies. This is most important in relation to immigrants who have yet to achieve citizenship or are vulnerable to deportation.
- HB 193 ERPO Changes is also on House floor. HB 193 would fix deficiencies in the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill passed in 2020, which allows a judge to require removal of weapons if a person is identified as being at extreme risk of harm to themselves or others. Unfortunately wording in the bill severely limited its utility, making it nearly impossible for families to obtain an order.
- HB 291 Tax Changes is headed to the House floor. This bill would inject significant progressivity to the state Personal Income Tax rates, eliminate some corporate tax giveaways, and increase and expand the Working Family Tax Credit and the Low-Income Comprehensive Tax Rebate. The net impact: more revenue for the state, paid by corporations and upper-income earners and more monies in the pockets of our essential workers.
That is a whole lot of progress, and the Alert linked above lets you know where things are not going as well, with bills stalled in committee. And below…no less than three Transformational bills in one hearing this afternoon.
Three of our highest priority Transformation Bills being heard in the daunting House Appropriations and Finance Committee today at 1:30:
- HB 203 Health Security Planning and Design. Second on Agenda. We’ve written so much about how important this is. And we’ve successfully secured Junior Bill funding sufficient to conduct the planning and design phase. We have the votes on the House Floor, just need to get through HAFC.
- HB 236 State Public Bank. Third on the Agenda. If the Financial Impact Report had not erroneously reported that HB 236 required an appropriation, it would not have been assigned to HAFC. But here we are. Roxanne and I have been involved with public banking advocacy since Richard Wolfe came to Santa Fe to serve as keynote for a Public Banking conference in 2014. Speaker Egolf also spoke at the event. Now it’s time to make this happen.
- HB 207 Food Hunger and Farm Act. Eighth on the Agenda. Of all the rural/farm bills, HB 207 is the most comprehensive. For a bill with a three year price tag of $5M, this bill covers virtually everything related to addressing food and water insecurity, growing crops, processing food, managing water use, and collaborating across siloes to share best practices. This bill has so much potential for impact across the state.
House Appropriations and Finance Committee is like no other committee. Chair Patty Lundstrom insists that before you come before HAFC you have fixed all problems in your bill, especially any fiscal ambiguity. The Committee moves at lightning pace, as bills can be introduced, discussed, and tabled in a minute or two, so it is possible we will have all three bills heard. Start your calls and emails now.
Let’s Transform the Democratic Party of New Mexico
Roxanne and I had an interesting experience in our Ward meeting a week or so ago. The meeting was scheduled to elect County Central Committee (CCC) members who then elect Santa Fe’s representatives to the State Central Committee (SCC). Roxanne and I have been members of the CCC and SCC for five years. What happened in the meeting alerted us to an opportunity to strengthen progressive representation on County and State Central Committees.
Our Ward (1D) is the largest in Santa Fe County, and there were a total of 8 people on the Zoom for the Ward elections. Our Ward was supposed to elect 47 members to the County Central Committee (CCC), but we could only elect just 7, plus the new Ward Chair. We were told that we could recruit people and that the new Ward chair (who we know pretty well and is a progressive) could appoint those people to our CCC. We were told by our County Chair that this was a common situation in Santa Fe this year, and that she believed it was common across the state. And herein lies the opportunity. If we can get enough folks like you to step up to join your county’s CCC we can elect a more progressive State Central Committee.
You don’t have to want to become involved in Ward or County politics to play a critical role in helping to reshape the Party, but we do ask for an hour of your time. Let me explain.
First, Why This Is Important?
The SCC can play a big role in shaping Democratic Party policy and the direction of the Party even on a national level.
The SCC selects two representatives to the Democratic National Committee, which is responsible for setting policy on things like:
- Whether the party will allow contributions from Wall St and other industries;
- Whether DNC-raised funds will be used to support moderate incumbents facing progressive primary challenges or if the DNC will stay on the sidelines and let voters decide;
- Establishing the Democratic Party national platform.
So what the SCC does matters. And as it stands, the NM SCC is basically split evenly between progressive and moderate Dems.
What Is Required?
The level of activity of County Central Committees varies. Most meet just twice a year, and it is easy to get information on what will be discussed and if there will be any kind of vote taken. If you want, you can attend and vote, but you can also vote by proxy. So being part of a County Central Committee is a very light lift. Certainly, you can become more deeply involved in your Ward and CCC, but that is not required or, frankly, expected.
We are reaching out to all of you to encourage you to contact your Ward Chair and get appointed to your County Central Committee so you can then elect State Central Committee members. In Santa Fe, our CCC will meet March 13 to elect 56 SCC members from Santa Fe County. Counties throughout the state will meet in a similar timeframe.
Ideally, some of you will also agree to serve on the SCC. This involves two meetings a year that can last 3-4 hours, but you get to know a good many people deeply involved in party politics, including legislators who often attend. You can run to be a member of the State Rules or State Platform & Resolutions committees, or Affirmative Action, Budget & Finance, and Judicial. But most, like Roxanne and I, are content to participate in two meetings a year and lend our voice to the progressive allies who are seeking to influence the direction of the party, the Adelante Progressive Caucus being the leader of that charge.
To give you an idea of the growing power of progressives on the SCC, last March the SCC elected two members to the DNC and despite heavy lobbying from the Governor and other establishment leaders, the two Adelante Progressive Caucus candidates almost won, with Pia Gallegos and Jay Levine falling just a handful of votes shy. What’s more, progressives maintain a majority on the Platform Committee, resulting in NM having one of the most progressive platforms in the nation. There is a good deal more progressives would like to do to shift the direction of the party: rely less on corporate donations and elite $500-$2500-a-person fund raisers and rely more on monthly contributions, canvassing, and early voter education campaigns to prepare for elections. But we need your help to do this.
OK, I’m In. What Do I Do?
- Step One: Find out your precinct number — this is necessary to identifying your Ward. This takes 15 seconds. Go to this Secretary Of State page. Pop in your name, birthdate, and county, and bingo, you’ll see your Congressional District, State Senate and House District, and your precinct.
- Step Two: Go to this State Democratic Party web page. You will find a list of every county party office in the state with a link to each county’s website. Click on the link for your county.
- Step Three: Here you may need to do a little bit of hunting, as every county’s site will differ somewhat. Some have lists of Ward Chairs with their contact info along with a chart listing which precincts are in each ward. Use your precinct number to identify your ward, identify your ward chair, and send a note indicating you’d like to serve on the CCC. In most wards in most counties you will find yourself chosen to serve on the CCC. (If you don’t see any Ward info on your county party website, you will likely find contact info for your County Party Chair, who should be able to help you identify your Ward and contact your Ward Chair.)
- Step Four: Your county Democratic Party website will likely have a post about when and how your county party will meet to elect the SCC members. (If not, contact your county party Chair.) We are asking CCC members to either run for SCC or vote for a progressive SCC member. If you’ve been active in county politics, you will likely be able to manage this and identify folks to vote for or folks to vote for you.
If you want help with the process, The Adelante Progressive Caucus is leading the charge and either Patty French — firstname.lastname@example.org — or Sharla Parsons — email@example.com — can help you.
To sum up. It will likely take you five or ten minutes to identify your precinct number, your ward ,and your ward chair. With a call or an email, you could be a County Central Committee member and have the info you need to vote for the SCC. Then it is up to you whether you want to devote a bit more time to serve on the SCC or you just want to vote to ensure that solid progressive folks are elected. Either way, with very little effort you can help the Adelante Progressive Caucus reshape the party. Like I said in the beginning: very light lift, but potentially a very big impact.
I wish it had been this easy to get all three of our Transformation bills to House Appropriations and Finance Committee for a crucial vote.
In solidarity and hope,
Roxanne and Paul
Categories: Democratic Party Reform