We lead with commentary and a spoken word poem in honor of International Women’s Day. We also review the status of our transformational bills. We have a surprising number of wins, but a troubling trend in bills that are stuck or dead. Read on!
Anisa Nandaula: Spoken Word Poet, Recites Her Rendition of #ChoosetoChallenge
The theme for 2021 International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge and that theme runs throughout the powerful spoken word poem by Anisa Nandaula below. Her poem underscores the importance of challenging authority and gender bias in the home, at work, at school, everywhere…and not just on the day the world celebrates women.
While it is appropriate to honor those women who have broken the rules, have broken glass ceilings, or have made “good trouble,” it is important to also acknowledge that we still have a good deal to challenge.
The Equal Rights Amendment was first proposed almost 100 years ago, but it took almost 50 years for it to pass the House of Representatives in October, 1971 and the Senate in March of 1972. Congress then submitted the amendment to states to ratify. By 1975, 35 of the 38 states needed to ratify the bill had done so, but the deadline for states to ratify was 1982. It still seemed certain to pass in another three states before the deadline, until Phyllis Schlafly mounted a campaign opposing it.
Since the 1980s five states revoked their ratification, but it is unclear whether a state can legally rescind its ratification. In 2017 Nevada, 2018 Illinois, and 2020 Virginia passed the ERA, which brings the total 38, meeting the required number of states ratifying. But a legal squabble has ensued because five states have rescinded their ratification. One legal opinion has indicated that the entire process must begin anew as the deadline for ratification passed almost 40 years ago. Ironically, constitutional amendments do not typically have ratification deadlines. The 27th Amendment, for instance, finally passed two centuries after being introduced.
And so in 2021 there is much challenge: the Equal Rights Amendment still hasn’t passed, women still earn but $.78 for every dollar a man makes doing the same work, 81% of American women have experienced some form of sexual harassment, 28% report having been sexually assaulted and 38% of women worldwide live in countries without an abortion provider.
Today, we offer a look at how all 20 of our Transformational Bills are doing, with a mere 12 days to go in the session. For each bill we describe where it sits in the process and our view on its chances of becoming law. After the full review, we offer a few general comments.
- HJR 1. Permanent Fund for Early Childhood. Passed Senate Rules on Friday and is now in Senate Finance. Last stop before the Senate floor where we have the votes. Sen. Muñoz has agreed to support this bill if some funds can be allocated to K-12. I expect SFC will amend the bill to add another 1/4% investment from the Permanent Fund, with that increased amount dedicated to K-12, and maintain the additional 1% commitment to early childhood. My guess is that we pass this bill on the Senate floor this week.
- HB 7 / SB 10 Abortion Ban Repeal. Flew through the Roundhouse and signed by the Governor.
- HB 12 Cannabis Regulation Act. This bill is stalled, but I think the delay will be brief. Sponsors of the various cannabis bills are negotiating and it only needs to pass two committees, Senate Tax Business and Transportation and Senate Judiciary, before hitting the Senate floor for its final stop. I think we’ll get this done. It would be too embarrassing for a Governor’s priority to fail yet again. My only fear is the Senate Judiciary Committee — it is very backed up, and who knows what Sen. Cervantes, the chair, will do on most any bill.
- HB 16 Rural Opportunities Act. This bill hasn’t had a single “no” vote. It zipped through the House and was given only one committee assignment in Senate. Chalk up another win. This will make it.
- HB 20 / 37 Healthy Workplaces Act (Paid Sick Leave). The bill has passed the House and has two Senate committees to get to the Senate floor, neither of which is Judiciary. There is easily enough time for this to pass, but the elephant in the room is the Governor’s “concerns” about this bill. She will soon begin her run for re-election, and running on blocking paid sick leave in a pandemic isn’t a catchy campaign slogan. Fingers crossed. We have a shot.
- HB 40 Private Detention Center Moratorium. Being tabled in House Appropriations and Finance is not a good place to be with only 12 days left in the session, especially when you still have to pass through the Senate. Another bill has surfaced, HB 352, a more modest version with perhaps an easier path, as it would have no appropriation. But these bills both face a tough climb.
- HB 47 / SB 308 Elizabeth Whitefield End of Life Options. This bill passed through the House and then Sen. Health and Public Affairs on Tuesday. It is now stuck in Senate Judiciary (join the very large party in that situation). Unlike many bills stuck there, this is HB 47’s last stop before the Senate floor. This will make it.
- HB 86 Native American Internet Library and Education. COVID has laid bare how the lack of internet and libraries has impacted tribal children in pursuing education. This bill was stuck in House Education for two weeks but finally passed on Tuesday. Now it is in House Appropriations and Finance. It could emerge from there and, if it does, it will pass the House. Much will depend on how many committee assignments it receives in the Senate. If just one, this bill has a shot. Interestingly, this is a bill requires an appropriation. And no matter our huge surplus, leadership has been reluctant to move bills with appropriations forward.
- HB 149 / SB 66. Installment Loan Rate Changes (Predatory Loan rates reduced to 36%). Passed the Senate on Tuesday, and has two short and friendly stops before a House floor vote. I think this may make it.
- HB 203 Health Security Planning and Design. While stuck in House Appropriations, bill sponsors anticipated it staying stuck and secured $600K in Junior Bill funding to ensure that the planning and design process will occur whether or not the bill passes. So the bill’s Planning & Design process will occur and we will have a completed plan ready for the 2023 session. This means that in 2023 a Health Security Act will be introduced with a fully developed plan with all loose ends tied and with a mountain of support behind it. In 2023, NM could become the first state in the nation with universal healthcare. Another win.
- HB 207 Food Hunger and Farm. This a very important bill with the potential for a huge impact. But it has been stuck in House Appropriations since Feb 22. Not good at all, as it will still have to move through the Senate. This is a bill strongly supported by the Governor, so it is surprising that this bill has stalled. Check a future legislative alert for action related to this bill.
- HB 236 / SB 313 State Public Banking Act. This bill was ambushed by a very unfair Financial Impact Report and faced huge opposition from the Community Banking industry who levelled misinformed charges that that industry would be harmed by a State Bank. In fact, a public bank would be a strong support and ally to community banks. It is highly unlikely the bill will be resurrected, although Alliance For Economic Prosperity and bill sponsors aren’t giving up. If an action is indicated from them, we will share it in our alert.
- HB 291 Tax Changes. This is an umbrella tax reform bill and something we strongly support. It has passed the House and has two stops in Sen. Tax Business and Transportation and then Senate Finance. While that might sound daunting, I expect it will emerge and pass the Senate, but likely with some chopping in Senate Finance. Look for guidance in our alerts next week. But this should be another win. Kudos to Voices for Children and Rep. Martinez for their leadership on this.
- SJR 3 Environmental Rights Act. The bill passed Senate Rules over four weeks ago and has been stuck in Senate Judiciary, a committee horribly backlogged. There is a very strong coalition (Retake is a member) advocating for this bill. That is the reason I hold out hope, but the window is narrowing. It needs to move from Senate Judiciary. Our next alert will discuss what action to take. This is such an important bill to pass.
- SJR 4 Review of Salaries Every Two Years. This is a bill that would establish a path to creating a paid legislature. It was introduced by Sen. Ivey-Soto and was passed in Rules six weeks ago. Now it is stuck in Senate Judiciary (a theme here). I asked Sen. Ivey-Soto if he wanted help getting the bill scheduled and he said no. This has caused me to wonder if he is even serious about passing the bill. Very late in the game. Likely won’t make it, no matter what we do. Frustrating.
- SB 83 Local Choice Energy. This bill passed Senate Conservation four weeks ago and has been stuck in Sen. Tax Business and Transportation since then. We are told it may be heard on Thursday. Stay tuned to the alerts. It is possible to get this done, but another theme in this session is if you are trying to address the climate crisis, good luck.
- SB 86 Use of Water in Gas and Oil Operations. (Amends the Produced Water Act.) This bill passed Sen. Conservation on Feb. 10 and was sent to Senate Judiciary where I observed a truly bizarre hearing. After allowing fifteen minutes of public comment in opposition to the bill, Sen. Cervantes refused to allow public comment in support, public comment that might have prevented the bill being tabled, with Sen. Duhigg joining Sen. Cervantes and all the Republicans voting to table.
- SB 112 Sustainable Economy Task Force. This bill is being pushed by Democratic leadership, so it may be the one energy/environment bill to get to the Governor’s desk. It has moved through the Senate and now has two very favorable House committee assignments before going to the House floor. I expect this to be a win.
- SB 155 Energy Transition Act Changes. This bill was tabled in Senate Conservation committee hearing with Senator Cervantes and Senator Hamblen voting with Republicans to table the bill. We didn’t see this coming as otherwise Sen. Hamblen has been solid this session. But she succumbed to the Sierra Club-orchestrated testimony from a series of workers from San Juan who spoke passionately about their need for the benefits that accrued from the ETA. No matter how many times, expert witnesses and bill the sponsor described how the bill would not jeopardize the benefits, the insidious impact of the emotional testimony caused Sen. Hamblen to join Sen. Cervantes in tabling the bill. This and the seeming loss of the Public Banking Act are our two most depressing defeats.
- Expand the Working Families Tax Credit. This bill has been folded into HB 291 and the WFTC will expand and increase resources to low income children and families. A win.
The Takeaways With 12 Days To Go
First, the positive. At the end of the session we are likely to see: Abortion Ban Repeal, Permanent Funding for Early Childhood, End-of-Life Options, Tax Reform that includes an expanded Working Families Tax Credit, Sustainable Economy Task Force, Legalized Cannabis, 36% rate cap on predatory lending, Rural Opportunities, and Health Security. Not a bad session at all. None of these bills would have passed the legislature in 2019 and many tried. And if it weren’t for such strong election efforts in the primary and general election, followed by advocacy efforts on the part of our allies and you, we would not have gotten all these bills
But then there is the negative. Climate change and energy are at the top of the list of disappointments: a Sustainable Economy Task Force will likely make it. But Energy Transition Act Changes, down in flames; Environmental Rights Act, stalled in its second committee, a committee with a huge back log; Local Choice Energy could still make it but has a very steep climb. So, if you are keeping score, we may get shut out except for a planning task force, which as yesterday’s post outlined (Link below in recap of the week’s posts), may well be developed by gas and oil and other industries. There are even more environmental bills among our priority bills and we will analyze their outcomes along with environmental bills on the Transformational list in our 2021 Report Card. But very few of those bills look likely to pass.
I wish that was it for the negative. But we need to point to another trend — if you are asking for money, forget it. If solving a problem requires funding, we’ll start a task force instead. We hadn’t realized it when we published our list of Transformational bills, but very few have appropriations involved. Note the different paths thus far of HB 16 and HB 207. HB 16 Rural Opportunities Act, which has no appropriation attached to it, is sailing through. But HB 207 Food, Hunger Farm Act, which addresses statewide food and water insecurity, and rural farm and agriculture issues, has an appropriation attached to it and is stalled in committee.
This is something we need to remember. We rank 50th in damn near everything good, except the size of our Permanent Fund, the piles of cash in funds like our tax severance fund, and a record-breaking surplus. Yet we behave as if we don’t have rural and poor communities with dire needs that could be addressed with an investment of funds. We squeeze our dollars, while hurting New Mexicans suffer. We need to change that before we enter the 2023 session.
A Look Back at a Busy Week
There is quite a bit to choose from in what was published last week. But if I had to pick one or two pieces to review, I’d say the Friday and Sunday posts. They are not time sensitive and are meant to inform you about the process at the Roundhouse, not about which bills are advancing or stalled or what is happening that day, as that info is largely out of date now. Read on!
It’s March: Less Than Three Weeks To Go & It’s About to Get CRAZY!!! URGENT ACTION This Morning On Much Improved Tax Reform Bill!
Monday, March 1. We reflect on what has transpired, what we’ve learned, and what is to come in this Session. No more days off; it’s 24-7 until noon on the 20th. But we’re also looking beyond the session, so we include info on a Food System series from Slow Food Santa Fe, plus another call to action! We also summarize last week’s posts and include a Legislative update focused on Public Banking, proposed changes to our tax system, and an urgent alert to ensure that Health Security Planning & Design proceeds despite obstacles. Read on!
House Appropriations Today: Health Security; Public Bank; Food, Hunger, Farm Act — All Hands On Deck!
Tuesday, March 2. Want to help to transform the Dem. Party of NM… in a very few minutes? 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 a few minutes of your time and the return on investment could be staggering.
Public Bank Tabled; Health Security Stalled, But With Path Forward; Cannabis in Crisis; & Community Solar Ruined by Amendments
Friday, March 5. NM voters’ voices were clear in June and November, but those voices are being repeatedly ignored. Today’s post examines specific bills where inaction, indifference, and subversive amendments are being used to undermine the will of the voters and their aspirations. The importance of the post lies in its analysis of how these bills were undermined as we examine the legislative process through the lens of Community Solar, Health Security, Public Banking, and Legalization of Cannabis.
Concerns About Concentration of Governor’s Power; Update on Competing Private Prison Bills; & an URGENT Call to Action
Sunday, March 7. This post focuses on the legislature and a noticeable trend with consumers and advocates being sorely under-represented in key studies, commissions, and task forces. And don’t overlook the interview with Sen. Dede Feldman at the end of the post. Feldman is a former NM State Senator who wrote the illuminating book, Inside the NM Senate: Suits, Boots, and Citizens. We discussed redistricting in detail, as she was a member of the Senate in 2001 and 2011 during previous redistricting processes. We also discussed the myriad ways that bills pass or fail and possible ways to better influence the legislative process.
Retake Conversation with Dede Feldman
In solidarity and hope,
Paul & Roxanne