Last week of Session: The Sausage Grinds On

The process grinds on with but four days and too many good bills stuck with too far to travel to become law. After swift starts, DINOs undermined some bills with usually industry-inspired bad amendments or with swift tabling motions. As in recent sessions, the most prominent victim is the planet, as the Roundhouse heels to its master the gas & oil industry. Read on!

Dissecting the 2023 Sausage

We will do a deeper analysis after the session, but wanted to provide a brief assessment, with but days to go in the session.

  • As noted above, the planet was the big loser, and we need to figure out how to change that… and soon— We will discuss this in next Wednesday’s Session Debrief Huddle. no Huddle today…. details at bottom of post;
  • Very good bills advance as expected and then some DINO talks to a lobbyist and starts messing with the original very good bill addressing a very clear need and the next thing you know your very good bill is not so good anymore. How do we prevent this song from replaying over and over again. See discussion below on HB 547 the Tax bill and SB 19, the once excellent, systemic approach to fixing our criminal justice system, that got much less systemic and a good deal less impactful as negotiations on amendments proceed. Bill sponsors are remaining quiet on the negotiations, but we will know soon if the Indivisible-developed SB19 emerges as the systemic bill it was before negotiations began. Stay tuned.
  • The use of “dummy” public peace bills is undemocratic as often when one of these dummy bills is introduced, constituents and often legislators would not have seen the committee substitute inserted into the dummy bill when its first hearing is held. Recall, Sen. Cervantes asking members of the audience why none of public comment focused on “the words in the bill. Words matter. ” Agreed, it would have been good if we had all been discussing and commenting upon the same words, but the only folks working from the bill language were the legislators.
  • Too many damned bills, with some legislators seeming to feel s/he who introduces the most bills wins. With thousands of bills hundreds more than could possibly be heard, the process needs to be reformed to:
    • limit the number of bills each legislstor can introduce;
    • limit the total number of bills that can be introduced in any session;
    • Strictly enforce the deadline for when bills can be introduced and eliminate the dummy bill process.
  • With those changes, we’d have half a chance of being deliberate in making law, not frantic.

We will write more on this next week after the dust settles and the mind clears. Also, we look to you for ideas, so please plan to attend the Session Ending Debrief next Weds. Details at bottom of post.

sb 53: Holding Off Holtec–We’re Gonna Do It

Southeastern New Mexico is already host to the underground Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). A number of accidents at WIPP have released radioactive materials or resulted in collapse of sections of tunnel in which material is stored. Fracking in the region has greatly increased earthquake activity, heightening fear that underground storage will not be safe.

But a private company, Holtec International, plans to build another facility – an “interim” site that would collect high-level nuclear waste from production sites across the country. Any “interim” facility will likely become a permanent one due to the immense cost, and risk, of removing, transporting by rail, and storing the radioactive material. Nevada’s Yucca Mountain was initially designated as the site for a permanent storage facility, but robust local opposition killed the project.

SB 53, would allow the state to push back against high-level nuclear waste storage in New Mexico: 

  • Consent of the state is required before any spent fuel or high-level waste facility is permitted in the state 
  • No such facility can be constructed in New Mexico until a permanent repository, as defined under federal statute, is in operation

After passing the House Judiciary last night on a tight 6-5 vote, it’s on to its final hurdle on the House floor. Let’s give it the final push it needs.

Help push SB 53 over the finish line – call and/or write to your NM House Rep and ask him/her to vote YES on SB 53 to keep New Mexicans safe from high-level radioactive waste! Click here to find your House Rep. This close to the finish line is NOT the time to get complacent. So please take action today. And keep at it.

Tax Bill Amended, Marring a Near Perfect Bill

Disclaimer: As described elsewhere in this post. Things changed at the very last minute and HB 547n which was slated for STBT committee, Thursday, was moved to this morning at 9:00. We raced to get stuff out to you in time, but there was too much to change in our messaging with too little time to do it, so minutes before I will hit ‘publish” HB 547 passed STBT with one amendment. We will find out what was done to the bill and update you, but what follows still applies but the target for our communication is your state Senator….. Read on.

Yesterday, we heard from our allies, NM Voices for Children on the state of the state budget and this is what we learned. We knew that the DINOs wouldn’t be able to resist messing with this, damn near perfect Tax Bill. And so we were not exactly stunned to hear that two key amendments have reduced the impact of the tax changes passed in HB547.

The tax omnibus was amended on the House floor on Sunday to remove the two new top Personal Income Tax (PIT) rates that would have asked just the top 3.7% of income earners to pay a little more in income tax. Now these folks who need it the least will also get a tax cut (due to the broadening of the brackets at the lower levels), impacting the stability of our revenues long term by reducing tax revenue.. The one-time rebates were also increased from $300 to $500/tax filer, along with a couple other floor amendments to garner bipartisan support for the bill, ultimately passing 50-18. We don’t know to what degree any of this changed in STBT, but will update you soon.

While we’re deeply disappointed with the removal of the top two PIT brackets, there is still a lot to celebrate in the package!

  • The child tax credit has more than tripled,
  • the unfair capital gains deduction is still significantly reduced with most corporations paying a fairer share in taxes,
  • Low Income Comprehensive Tax Rebate (LICTR) is improved,
  • the GRT is reduced to benefit families and business alike, and
  • there are tax credits to benefit our environment

Last stop before the Senate floor, is Senate Tax, Business & Transportation. This was scheduled for Thursday, but at 9:20AM THIS MORNING IT WAS MOVED TO FIRST ON THE AGENDA TODAY, AS IN RIGHT NOW. And the hearing is now over. Scroll to the bottom of this post to find contact info and speaking points. You can still write to committee members while they are in the hearing. You can also use the same info to contact your House Rep in anticipation of a floor vote once it passes out of STBT today.

That’s it from Voices for Children. Let’s try to undo the house floor amendments and restore the full impact of this once magnificent and still damned good bill.

More Sausage Making: Public Health & Climate Resilience Dies

One more climate related bill went down in flames. The Senate version of HB2, the budget, does NOT include any funding for the Public Health and Climate Resilience Bill, or any parts thereof.  

So the Public Health and Climate Resilience bill has met it’s demise – until next year or the 2025 session–depending on whether the Governor puts the bill on her call.

Clearly, whatever next steps we take, it’s important we further educate HAFC Chair Small and Vice Chair Dixon about the need for the bill – including why the program is appropriate for placement within the Department of Health, rather than the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (Small suggested that department already addresses the issues we raised in our bill). 

When bill sponsors restart their efforts, they’ll do so with the strong support from so many diverse groups and legislators already in place. Sponsors will only have to update research, but the fundamental information and analyses are in place for future success! 

Collectively, this bill made a good run at it for a first year for a new concept. The bill earned 7-2 and 6-2 votes in the two committees that had an actual hearing on the bill.  Charles Goodmacher, the lobbyist who led the charge, felt that had the House Appropriations and Finance Committee held a hearing where we were able to present our case before they passed HB2, the bill would have passed there. Alas Nathan Small channeled his predecessor, Rep. Patty Lundstrom and orchestrated its being tabled. Next Year!  

Today’s Huddle Cancelled: Let’s Debrief Next Week

At this point in the session, our time is best spent communicating with legislators and allies and there is really no need for discussion of strategy. Strategy at this point, is just to devote time to communicating with legislators. But once the session is over we’ll want to debrief next Weds while the process is still imprinted on our memories.

Join us next week. let’s brainstorm while it is all fresh, what we need to do differently and likely sooner, to ensure greater success , how should the process be changed and how do we create that change. Click here to register for March 22. You must register to attend!

SB STBT Speaking Points!

Next up ( voting NOW, bill passes with an amendment) Senate Tax Business and Transportation Committee (STBTC) , and now to the Senate floor. There is still an opportunity for improvements to the bill, and this is where we could use your voice! Please contact members of Senator or any Senator with whom you have a relationship, and kindly ask that they:

  • Reinstate the top two PIT brackets to improve fairness and revenue sustainability in our tax code.
  • Increase the corporate income tax to 6.9% (as proposed originally in SB 189). Corporations can – and should – be paying more for the public goods & services they benefit from.
  • Keep the unnecessary and unfair capital gains deduction limited, as is currently proposed.

Contact info– Do it for Tax Justice!

Find your Senator here.

In Solidarity & Hope,

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: Local-State Government & Legislation

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2 replies

  1. I’m starting to wonder about the label DINO. That presumes that Democrats, at their core, are committed to climate action, among other certain progressive ideas. I think it’s time to find another term that represents their stuckness in the status quo – like Democrats Opposed to Progress or DOPes.

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