NM State Legislature 101: How To Be an Effective Citizen Lobbyist

We Need A Brand New Progressive Roundhouse

We Need A Brand New Progressive Roundhouse

Retake Our Democracy is committed to making involvement in the democratic process easier and more impactful. This Guide includes contact information for all NM legislators, guides on the tax and revenue system, a summary of the New Mexico Progressive Coalition’s ten legislative priorities, and a summary of how Retake Our Democracy will be lobbying in the 2017 session.  This tool is not likely something you will be able to get through in one sitting, but if you are going to be effective in your communication with the legislature (or you city council) it is essential that you understand the process and the most effective strategies for making your voice heard.  

We are setting up pages with information on bills by each issue area. It is a work in progress with updates being provided daily and quickly we will have more analysis of each bill. But below this list is a summary of how you can track bills yourself.  

  • Agriculture (Hemp & Pollinators);
  • Children & Families (early childhood ed and home visiting);
  • Criminal Justice (Gun Control, Rape Kit Backlog, Recreational Marijuana Legalization);
  • Economic Justice ($15 minimum wage, pay day loan limits, tax & revenue reform);
  • Education (variety of bills endorsed by the National Education Association of NM)
  • Election Reform (Ethics Commission, National Election Determined by Popular Vote and more); and
  • Environment (wide variety);
  • Healthcare (Health Security Act, equity in prescription drug costs and more)

More issue areas will be added soon. We are moving as quickly as we can. But the next two paragraphs tell you how you can use the nmlegis.gov website to research bills yourself and keep track of their progress through the Roundhouse. The remainder of the Guide provides a good deal more information about how the legislature works, how a budget is developed, the various funding and revenue streams and how a bill actual gets passed.

The remainder of this Guide is devoted to helping you better understand the State Legislative process, the state budget. First go to nmlegis.gov and look around. Under the “Legislation” menu you will find ways to search for bills by bill number, key word, sponsor or topic. Once you find a bill that interests you, I’d suggest first looking to see if there has been analysis done (look for the blue button to the left). If so, generally this is an easier thing to understand than the actual bill language which is available as a pdf.  The bill language can be torturously long complicated. But it is important that over time you learn to use these search engines.

Another great tool is “My Roundhouse.” First you just do a standard log-in with email address so they know who to send alerts to. The next step was a bit confusing at first, but at the next page where you enter the information for bills you to track, you will find something called  the “locator,” which is just a funny word to use to identify how you can label the bills you are tracking since bills are numbered HB 1 SB 7. If you want to make it easier to know what each bill is, you simply use the “locator” and type in Health Security Act and hit enter Then to the lower left of the page is a blue box where you can enter a bill number, click it there and you will be registered to get updates on how the bill is moving through the Roundhouse and when it is scheduled for a hearing or vote. Click here to get to My Roundhouse. Even if you get these alerts you will want to also sign up with lobbyists, as they will provide more detailed information, like who to contact in the roundhouse and speaking points in support of the bill.

Click here for an excellent guide to how the state legislature works, how bills are introduced, considered and passed or stalled.

If you are going to be effective in your advocacy, you need to understand the process and how the state budget and tax system operates.  Voices for Children has three essential guides to understanding how you can advocate effectively and how the budget and tax system functions. Download this citizen’s guide and read it before you begin lobbying.  The other links below are very useful to understanding the process.

Click here for Voices for Children’s excellent summary of possible revenue sources that are available to the legislature. It includes information on how much revenue could be raised by each source and who is impacted by each.

For a link to help you identify your legislator, click here.

nmpc-logoClick here for a link to the ten legislative priorities of the New Mexico Progressive Coalition. Retake Our Democracy is one of the founding organizations of the Coalition.

Click here to access Indivisible, the Guide to Resisting Trump. While the focus is upon how to lobby effectively at a federal level, the principles are entirely consistent with lobbying at the state level. A couple of key points made:

  • Legislators are most concerned with the views of their constituents, son one of the best ways to effectively lobby is to identify friends, family and colleagues who are represented by moderate Democrats or Republicans and encourage them to get informed and active. Provide them a link to Retake Our Democracy and keep in touch with them, get them to sign up with one of our recommended lobbying groups. This list will be posted very soon. It includes contact information for some of the state’s most effective, progressive lobbying organizations and how to get on their alert list. This is a very effective way to make your voice known.
  • There is a direct relationship between the level of effort you put in to your lobbying and the impact it will have. Personal calls or emails are far more effective than online petitions and the most impactful action is to visit your legislator, talk with him/her and/or an aide.
  • Make sure you have research, data or other documentation that supports your position.

Retake Our Democracy Partnership with Key Lobbying Organizations. Lastly, Retake Our Democracy has a team of Citizen Advocates that is developing an annotated list of about 20 of the most effective progressive lobbying groups working on a wide variety of issues. The list will include contact information for each organization’s lobbyist, a description of the issues for which they advocate, and information about how you can sign up to receive action alerts We will post a link to that list very soon. In this way you can track the issues that mean the most to you. But I’d encourage you to create your own My Roundhouse and learn to use the NMLegis.gov site yourself.

This page will be updated periodically with more tools and information to support your advocacy.