A little more explanation of why we reversed our position on HB 6 Clean Future Act, which will be heard this morning at 8:30 in House Govt., Elections & Indian Affairs. (We now guardedly support HB 6, pushing for additional amendments.) Also, a brief tribute to Former Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales.
Mayor Javier Gonzales, Rest in Peace
On Wednesday during the House Floor Session, Speaker Egolf asked for a moment of silence for Javier Gonzales. The announcement stopped me in my tracks. I hadn’t seen him in a few years and had no idea he was ill. Over the years, I worked with Javier on a variety of issues in Santa Fe. We didn’t always agree, but Mayor Gonzales always made time to meet, talk, and listen.
One of my best memories of the mayor was his marching with me and a couple hundred others in Santa Fe in solidarity with Standing Rock. The march’s theme was to demand that banks divest from investing in fossil fuels. We marched from City Hall to the Wells Fargo branch in De Vargas mall. He and I walked together, and I held the microphone for him to address the crowd. RIP Mayor, you were an honorable man. The quote below from The New Mexican captures what he was about.
““With the time, certainly that I have in this world, I want to be able to make sure I’m putting every bit of effort into making sure where I can add value, where I can bring positive impact,” he said in an October 2020 interview with The New Mexican. “I want to be part of that.”
Santa Fe New Mexican
When Not in Hearings…
Every night, we wait until 7pm to send out our Alert with the most current info about Roundhouse hearings. Then we debate whether we should wait to send it until 6 am, as things change late into the evening. It’s more helpful for you to get the Alerts in the evening when you may have more time to send emails to legislators. But then we worry that we will likely have to send another Alert in the morning if things change. And so, we then worry that you will get over-Alerted. And that is the conversation each night at the Retake Central dining table. In such a rushed, confusing and ever-changing process, we are going to make mistakes, especially late in the evening and late in the session when we are running on fumes. Anyway, we thought you might want to understand better our process and thinking.
NOTE: For information on any of the bills we mention here, please go to our Bills We Support/Oppose page at this link.
So, when you decide to change your position on an important bill like HB 6 Clean Future Act at 7:45 am with the hearing scheduled at 8 am, it gets crazy. Post session, we want to rethink how we do this, as this system is not sustainable. It requires a 12-hours-a-day commitment for weeks and that is simply not doable over the long term. (And this doesn’t even take into account another dozen or so volunteers who are helping review bills, observe hearings, etc., and the many allies we depend on for advice and information.) I can’t tell you how glad we are that this is a short session. The thought of this going another 5-6 weeks is unbearable.
Much of my day is spent texting legislators and lead advocates, trying to line up support or opposition for key bills, while Roxanne researches talking points, tracks bill status, and prepares the next Alert. As an example of what our day can be like, on Wednesday, as soon as Roxanne sent out the Alert, rumors unrelated to the Alert began to circulate that:
- HB 228 Hydrogen Hub, HB 6 Clean Future, and HJR 2 Green Amendment would be rolled from Wednesday to Friday…no confirmation (until last night), but I’m getting anxious because we can’t run two Zooms at once in our house, let alone three, because of internet challenges.
- Next rumor: HB 6 might be tucked into HB 228 or vice versa, and other rumors countering this, saying that such a move made no sense, as there is virtually no support for hydrogen in the Senate, so if you want to pass HB 6, why saddle it with a sinking ship. But then I thought, this session has been lean on sense, and texted several good sources who nixed the rumor, while others continued to text that something was up… Of that we can be sure, but my bet is that HB 6 and HB 228 never merge. BREATHE.
- Next rumor: HB 132, the loan cap bill limiting small loans to 36% has problems in Senate Judiciary, with two Dem. Senators rumored to want to kill the bill. Several texts later, both of those Senators nixed the rumor. BREATHE.
- Next rumor: The HB 6 committee substitute that was used by Sierra Club and YUCCA to develop their positions on the bill was Doc. 222545.2 and the final version of the bill substitute is Doc. 222545.3, hence folk were working from an early bill sub. Given all that has transpired with the Hub, the rumor is credible. This revelation triggered a slew of emails among advocates, some of whom smelled a rat and others who dismissed this as something that no legislator would try. If committees routinely published committee subs, that would avoid this speculation and make available to the public the actual bill they may want to comment on. But, apparently, House rules prohibit the publication of committee subs until they are adopted. In the interest of transparency, this is a rule we need to change. I have frequently found myself offering comment on a bill where an amendment would be debated AFTER public comment. This makes no sense. The public deserves to have access to bill amendments or bill substitutes 24 hours before a hearing. Currently, the only folks who have access to these are insiders who can coax them from a member of the committee. This rewards insiders and excludes constituents. We still do not know with 100% certainty that our comments on the HB 6 committee sub are based on the most current substitute. But I chose to assume all was well. BREATHE .
It is unusual for me to spend so much time texting to sort out what is going on, but I do spend much of the day texting legislators in part to build relationships, in part to offer clarifying info to legislators who are unsure of their position on an important bill. And in part to build support and/or identify opposition among legislators and then communicate with advocacy allies to help develop strategy.
I am coming to the conclusion that devoting time to this texting is the most impactful work I do on many days. I think this experience will inform advocacy in future sessions, as both Roxanne and I have long felt that very often legislators enter a hearing already knowing how they will vote, unless some last-minute, earth-shattering development unfolds. To increase our effectiveness, more Retake folks need to cultivate relationships with their legislators year-round, and then as bills or concepts emerge, you can engage that legislator in dialogue well before the session begins.
The efficacy of this strategy was made clear in a committee hearing on Public Banking where, Rep. Javier Martínez noted that he supported a Public Bank in large part due to several meetings he had had with constituents who supported Public Banking. Clearly, the personal relationship facilitated a dialogue about a complex issue and resulted in an important legislator supporting Public Banking. It’s a combination of relationship building and education — giving legislators solid information on the issues. So we will work with Retake peeps who want to become Legislative Ambassadors, cultivating relations and meeting with their legislators well before the whirlwind of a legislative session.
We have noted many times how, during each session, we learn more about how to improve the effectiveness of our advocacy. Another example surfaced in our weekly Zoom Huddle Wednesday night. When asked how we could influence legislation and the budget more proactively, our guest, former State Senator Dede Feldman, pointed to the opportunity to build relationships with legislative analysts who are responsible for writing briefs on bills. By talking with them early, we can build relationships and share information on bills that we will be supporting.
That’s it for today. This may be the last post of the session, because I will be a texting fool for the next week. Please stay engaged.
In Solidarity & Hope,
Paul & Roxanne
Categories: Local-State Government & Legislation