Criteria and Process for Choosing MUST PASS Bills

Bill Selection Criteria

For the 2019 Legislative Session, Retake Our Democracy’s Roundhouse Advocacy Team began the process of identifying priority bills two years before the session began. We tracked 60 bills in the 2017 Session and were disappointed by how many failed to get out of committees and to the floor for a vote. We then worked with 25+ non-profit allies––social, economic, and environmental justice organizations––to learn why their bills failed and to identify their top priority bills going forward. With that input, we developed the criteria below and select 29 bills for a statewide survey released in January 2018. Along with input from bill sponsors and advocacy groups, we used the results of that survey, completed by over 1300 New Mexicans from every county in the state, to inform our selection of bills in 2019.

It’s important to know that these bills were not selected arbitrarily. Our MUST PASS bill list was largely comprised of bills that were introduced in 2017 or 2018, tracked by Retake during those sessions, and then discussed at length in meetings with our allies. From these discussions, Retake developed the following criteria to guide our selection of which bills to support.

Bill Selection Criteria:

  • Has strong support from one or more of our progressive allies who has organized a constituency in support of the bill and with whom we are working closely;
  • Implementation of the bill would have a broad impact across NM and/or would have significant impact on the quality of life of a historically under-served, under-represented population or community;
  • Is neither a “sure thing” nor “dead-in-the-water,” but focused advocacy could help the bill become law—this determination is based on conversations with our allies;
  • Addresses the needs of all New Mexicans—urban, rural, and tribal.
  • For an issue area packed with bills that meet the above criteria, we ask ourselves “Which bill would likely have the deepest and broadest impact?”

Beyond the above criteria, we also prioritize most highly bills that promote economic and climate justice, with climate just being elevated to not just being “an” issue, but viewed as “the” issue. Finally, based on input received when we have been visiting communities throughout New Mexico, we also seek out bills that are important to small cities or rural communities, as their priorities are often overlooked at the Roundhouse.

Bill Review Process

Bills are being reviewed by our Legislative Research Team as they are pre-filed. They are sorted into issue areas

Once sorted, they are assigned to volunteers on the Research Team. Based on our Criteria for Choosing MUST Pass Bills, the Research Team makes an assessment of each bill, identifying bills that clearly do not meet our criteria, those that do, and those that require more in-depth consideration.

Bills that strongly meet the criteria are then assigned to a volunteer to create a bill summary comprised of the bill title, bill number, sponsor(s), a short summary, and speaking points to advocate for the bill. Speaking points, in almost all cases, are based on materials from our allies.

The Leadership Team, using the above criteria, then does a preliminary sort of bills into MUST PASS or Priority. Members of the Leadership Team then reviews the list and, in consultation with allies, makes the final determination of what bills we will support in each session. The Leadership Team is comprised of four people who have been involved with Roundhouse Advocacy Team since the very beginning:  Paul Gibson, David Thompson, Roxanne Barber, and Saraswati Khalsa with Sharon Shoemaker joining the Leadership Team in the fall of 2019.

In an ideal world, the final process could be more democratic, but there is not time to take straw polls of active volunteers or even of members of the Legislative Research Team. Besides, to do so would open the door to having the priorities of a relatively small number of volunteers supplant the views of 1,300 survey takers, our 25+ allies, and two years of work by our team of volunteers.

Read our 2020 Legislative Preview here.