Criteria and Process for Choosing MUST PASS Bills

Bill Selection Criteria

Retake Our Democracy’s Roundhouse Advocacy Team began the process of identifying priority bills for the 2019 Legislative Session two years ago. 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 to select 29 bills for a statewide survey released in January 2018. For the even shorter list of MUST PASS Bills for the 2019 session, the criteria were amended slightly by adding #6 and #7 below.

It’s important to know that these bills were not selected arbitrarily. Our MUST PASS bill list is 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. As bills are introduced to the 2019 Session, we will continue to use the criteria below to finalize our MUST PASS list. Retake’s role is to support our allies and learn from them. Our criteria and our process were designed to ensure we do that.

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?”
  • To effectively monitor our MUST PASS bills and to not overwhelm Network members with Action Alerts, the final list of MUST PASS bills should not exceed 25, and we hope to limit it to 20 bills.
  • Which of the bills received the strongest level of support from 1,300 online survey respondents.

Based on input from our allies and legislators, we will also prioritize bills that would significantly increase our tax and revenue base while creating a more progressive tax framework, bills that would address climate change, and bills that would contribute to reforming the election process and reducing the impact of money in politics. As a result, these issue areas may garner more MUST PASS bills than others.

Bill Review Process

Bills are being reviewed by our Legislative Research Team as they are pre-filed. They are sorted into one of thirteen issue areas: Criminal Justice, Economic Justice, Education, Election Reform, Energy, Healthcare, Immigration, Indigenous People, LBGTQ Rights, Taxation & Revenue, Water and Land Use, Wildlife Protection, and Women’s Rights.

Once sorted, they are assigned to team members who volunteered to review bills in a specific issue area. 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. Recall that as of early January, 500 bills have been pre-filed and at least 2-3 times that number will be filed by the Feb. 14 deadline.

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 Legislative Research Team, using the above criteria, then does a preliminary sort of bills into MUST PASS or Priority. This list is forwarded to the Retake Leadership Team who reviews the list and, in consultation with allies, makes the final determination. The Leadership Team is comprised of five people who have been involved with Roundhouse Advocacy Team since the very beginning:  Paul Gibson, Lynne Fischer, David Thompson, Roxanne Barber, and Saraswati Khalsa.

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.