We have compiled two lists for this session: Transformational Bills, where we will focus most of our advocacy efforts, and Priority Bills that we support but can’t put as much energy into. There are only so many hours in the day! View both lists below.
These lists are being vetted with partners, allies, our Transformation Study Group, and our Board. It is important to note that while we consult with allies like NM Voices for Children, Health Security for New Mexicans, NM Environmental Law Center, Working Families Party, Common Cause, Think New Mexico and a host of other CBOs, as well is with Adelante, Indivisible, Taos United, and others, it is likely that many of those groups may not prioritize one or two of our bills and may indeed oppose one or two. We seek their guidance, but still retain our own perspective.
Many of the bills below include summaries that describe the bills well enough to allow conversation with legislators. But over the next two weeks, we will be continuously updating the summaries, and for the Transformational Bills we will be developing one-page summaries.
If you feel we have missed something, please write to us at RetakeResponse@gmail.com.Use the same email address if you want to participate in advocacy for the bills.
We have a legislative strategy to coordinate and focus our efforts to pass these bills. We also have clear criteria for selecting bills. You can read about our criteria and our strategy at this link.
- Abortion Decriminalization. A 1969 NM statute makes it a 4th-degree felony for physicians to perform an abortion except in cases of rape, incest or likely birth defects, or to protect the life of the mother. The Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade in 1973 made the state statute unenforceable, but with the current conservative majority on the Supreme Court, Roe v Wade is in real danger of being gutted. To protect New Mexico women’s right to choose, repealing this outdated legislation is a high priority.
- The Health Security Act, advanced by Health Security for New Mexicans. The New Mexico Health Security Act will automatically cover nearly all New Mexicans, offer a comprehensive set of healthcare services, provide freedom of choice of healthcare provider and facility (no more networks) even across state lines, and will simplify administration since it is not dependent on the costly and complicated private insurance system. The Plan will be administered not by a State Agency, but by a geographically representative citizens’ commission of consumers, business owners, and healthcare providers. Commission meetings will be open to the public and finances will be open to public scrutiny. The Plan will be paid for with existing public dollars, along with employer contributions and premiums based on income (both with caps). The Plan will provide comprehensive physical and mental health coverage, including many alternative therapies, but individuals and employers may purchase supplemental private insurance policies if they wish to (e.g. for cosmetic surgery). The cost of Plan has been analyzed three times by independent researchers, with each study projecting significant savings for New Mexico and guaranteed comprehensive care for virtually all New Mexicans
- Public Bank for New Mexico. Sponsored by Senator Jeff Steinborn, this legislation authorizes a public bank owned by the state of New Mexico that finances New Mexico’s infrastructure projects, energy projects, small businesses, and economic development. It invests public funds (taxes and fees) and keeps them circulating in the state. It works in partnership with community banks, credit unions, and Community Development Financial Institutions to make loans that enhance local communities. Money which currently goes to debt service on bonds with out-of-state banks and to their investors remains in New Mexico for reinvestment. Pro Forma assumptions include: $50 million in deposits to be moved to the public bank from Wells Fargo accounts in the first year, providing estimated ability to lend $44 million during the first year of operation bringing returns by the end of second year. Additional deposits would be transferred to the public bank in succeeding years to meet increasing liquidity demands.
- Local Choice Energy. Sponsored by Senators Jeff Steinborn and Benny Shendo. Local Choice Energy is also known as Community Choice Aggregation. The Act authorizes a municipality, county, Indian nation, tribe or pueblo to pool the electricity demand of multiple customers and procure power from an alternative supplier while still receiving transmission and distribution service from the existing utility. The Act would open electricity markets to competition and give communities control over which entity supplies their energy. Such competition is unlawful today with electricity supply residing within investor-owned monopoly utilities. Shifting to greater local control, residents have an increased voice in choice of power generation, energy conservation, and sustainability.
- The Green Amendment. Advanced by The Green Amendment for the Generations, this bill would ask voters to create a NM State Constitutional Amendment giving all New Mexicans a constitutional right to clear air, water, and land. These rights would become inherent, inalienable, and indefeasible, and among those rights reserved to all the people and on par with other protected inalienable rights.
- Permanent Fund for Early Childhood Amendment. This legislation, if approved by voters in a statewide referendum, would change the state constitution to require the Land Grant Permanent Fund (LGPF) to provide additional yearly distributions of 1% to early childhood educational (ECE) services (nonsectarian and nondenominational). This 1% would increase the current distribution of 5% to 6%, a conservative amount.
- Comprehensive Tax & Revenue Reform: COVID and plummeting oil revenues require the state to either make massive cuts in the social safety net or eliminate old tax giveaways that should never have been passed. This will be a package of bills sponsored by Rep. Javier Martinez and Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino and supported by NM Voices for Children.
- Expanding the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) is an investment in a healthier New Mexico that is also key to getting our economy back on track. It will help workers meet basic needs and put more money back into the hands of New Mexico’s hard-working families – and into the businesses where they will spend it, Among the many benefits of the WFTC: 1) Top beneficiaries include essential workers and people of color, who have been disproportionately harmed by COVID-19; 2) WFTC is proven to incentivize work; 3) WFTC improves physical and mental health by reducing financial hardship and giving families more money to spend on food and other household necessities; 4) businesses benefit too as the refunds are spent quickly and locally and 5) it’s a common-sense, bi-partisan solution to help New Mexico families survive through and thrive after the pandemic. The WFTC has been advanced by our ally the NM Voices for Children for years.
- Oil & Gas Bonding Increase. We do not have the language on this yet from the State Land Office, but it would significantly increase the amount of capital a fracking operator must provide as a bond to pay for clean-up and capping of wells. It is estimated that current levels of bonding are $2 billion short of projected capping and clean-up costs, perhaps far more. We are working with the State Land Office to get final bill language.
- Water Governance Reform Act. Sponsored by Representative Melanie Stansbury, this is a comprehensive bill advancing steps to reform and modernize water governance in New Mexico, updating practices and approaches adopted in 1912 at the time of statehood. Itadvances steps to modernize the current water grid, taking advantage of new technologies and scientific research.It seeks to streamline the process by which water managers at multiple levels can access available funding.It addresses steps needed to redress the EPA’s 2020 rollback of water quality standards in the Clean Water Act as the changes impact New Mexico’s water, public health, and the environment.With a focus on restorative justice, this bill also seeks to improve the relationship of the state with tribal leaders around the issue of water management and access.
- Paid Sick Leave would provide workers statewide with guaranteed paid sick leave. We are waiting on bill language to see the number of days annually and any possible protections offered to smaller workplaces.
- Small Loan Interest Rate Cap Reduction. Advanced by Think NM and Prosperity Works. This legislation wouldcap the interest rate for small and installment loans from storefront lenders at 36%, replacing the current cap of 175% imposed in 2017. Previously, some lenders were charging up to 1,000% percent and the average was over 300%, but the current rate of 175% still burdens the most economically vulnerable residents of our state.
- Energy Transition Act Amendment: Advanced by Senators Bill Tallman and Liz Stefanics, it would revise current bill language that allows PNM to shift financial responsibility to ratepayers for all toxic economic liabilities from coal at the San Juan Generating Station, Four Corners Power Plant, and all its expensive nuclear and gas investments, costs that collectively are estimated by PNM to be $1 billion. None of the RPS (renewable portfolio standards) or worker relief elements of the bill would be altered, San Juan would still close, but in addition, rate payers would be protected.
- Marijuana Legalization. This legislation would legalize recreational marijuana for people 21 or older in New Mexico, and the state could tax marijuana sold in licensed stores, mostly small businesses. If this year’s legislation is similar to the bill introduced in 2019, it would set a 9% excise tax and allow a municipal cannabis tax and a county cannabis tax of up to 4% each, plus GRT on non-medical cannabis purchases. It would automatically seal certain cannabis-related criminal records and allow for the possible recall or dismissal of the sentence for a person currently incarcerated for cannabis offenses that would no longer be violations under the new law. It would create a tightly regulated system of approved licensees with strict rules and regulations, similar to those governing the production and sale of tobacco or alcohol.
- Food and Ag Omnibus Bill. Sponsored by Representatives Melanie Stansbury and Joanne Ferrary. Discussions are still underway, but this will be a major bill focused on 1) improving local food systems and resilient agriculture, 2) strengthening food and water relief and recovery, and 3) addressing root causes of food insecurity. It will direct NMSU to create a roadmap for modernizing the food system including agricultural production, distribution, and the value chain infrastructure. It will maintain and expand investments in the agricultural and food infrastructure including support for operations and creation of data and information sharing systems for essential, real-time information about food hubs, cold storage, and transportation networks.
Priority Bills Currently Being Researched
- Strategic Plan for a Sustainable Economy. Sponsored by Senator Mimi Stewart. A bill requiring the state to create a strategic plan for a sustainable economy that transitions New Mexico from reliance on fossil fuel revenue and jobs and achieves carbon neutrality. Specifies cabinet departments and state agencies whose representatives must convene a planning team to create and implement the strategic plan, chaired by the Office of the Governor. Requires stakeholder consultation with all affected communities including tribes and pueblos. Goals of the strategic plan include replacing both fossil fuel sector jobs and the roughly $2B per year in state tax revenue that will decline as the state economy moves to a sustainable economy not based on fossil fuel extraction.
- Tribal Rural Telecommunications Infrastructure Act. Sponsored by Senators Michael Padilla and Shannon Pinto. This bill has been drafted, but it would only create an agency to manage telecommunications investment with no funding attached. We are disappointed at the lack of a funding request or a mandate of investment from the State Investment Council.
- Rural and Tribal Infrastructure. We are still not sure this bill will be introduced in 2021, but if so, it will be either one of our Transformational or Priority bills. The bill we are hoping for would provide funding to improve roads, water, electricity, and telecommunications infrastructure. The related bill on the list (#2 above) from Senators Michael Padilla and Shannon Pinto would only create a separate agency to manage infrastructure investment, is limited to telecommunications, and does not include funding even for telecommunications.
- Just Transition. Sponsored by Rep. Angelica Rubio. This will likely be a memorial to fund a study on how to transition from an economy and a state budget that is reliant on gas and oil revenues to one that is sustainable. Still not sure if this will be introduced.
- Strengthen Language in the NM Air Quality Act and Water Quality Act. Advanced by NM Environmental Law Center, it would remove language in the Air Quality Act and the Water Quality Act that forbids the state from creating more restrictive regulations governing water and air quality than are included in the Federal regulations.
- Increase penalties for oil and gas violations. Advanced byNM Environmental Law Center,this bill would increase penalties for oil operation violations. We think this is for spills and emissions, but we are researching what specifically is being violated and the history of current penalties, when they were last raised (1070s), and verify that the increases would mirror other state penalties.
- Implement a Private Right of Action Against Oil & Gas Operators. Advanced by NM Environmental Law Center. This legislation would enabling citizens to file suit against gas and oil operators who are causing them harm as currently such action must come from the State.
- Require one semester of financial literacy as part of statewide high school curriculum. Advanced by Think NM.
- People Over Private Prisons New Mexico (POPP NM) coalition submitted language to the legislative drafter for a bill to end private ownership of prisons in NM. The draft bill will be ready for public discussion November 18. Several members of the coalition will be meeting with Senator Wirth and Speaker Egolf in mid-November. POPP NM is giving a presentation on the legislation the week after Thanksgiving, and it will also be presented Dec 1 at the Courts, Corrections, and Justice Committee. It looks like there is good support for this concept in the legislature.
- The NM Tribal Affairs Office within the Department of Child Youth & Families is creating a bill to protect Native American children so they can remain within their tribal communities and extended families. Supporters way it will be pre-filed in the state Legislature in January. The bill, still in draft form, will codify the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) into state law if it’s passed by the state Legislature next year. The U.S. Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act into law in 1978 but it is too often not enforced, according to experts working on the state law.
- Fusion Voting. Advanced by the Working Families Party.With fusion voting, a candidate’s name can appear on more than one line, but votes on the Democratic Party line and the Working Families Party line will all go to the same candidate. With Fusion, voters just have the option to vote for the party line that best represents their values. Fusion voting means two parties are working to get a candidate elected, instead of one.
- Community Solar Act. Sponsored by Senator Liz Stefanics and Representative Patricia Roybal Caballero. Community solar refers to local solar arrays shared by individual community members who receive credits on their electricity bills for their portion of the power produced. The Act authorizes development of Community Solar Facilities by cities, counties, pueblos, tribes, and solar developers, as well as NGOs supporting low-income housing and neighborhoods.
- Electric Vehicle Tax Credit. Sponsored by Senator Bill Tallman. A bill proposing a pair of personal income tax credits to incentivize purchase or lease of electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles and the purchase and installation of an EV charging unit. EV vehicle credit of $2,500 with an increase to $5,000 for single taxpayers (income less than $50,000), married filing separately (income less than $37,000), and married filing jointly or head of households (income less than $75,000).
- Sustainable Building Tax Credit. The goal is to create incentives for more efficient new residential and commercial buildings. The bill would likely have a tiered system of tax credits for new residential and commercial buildings. The size of the tax credit will depend on the potential energy/emission savings of construction choices (e.g., a certain Energy Rating Index, or all electric appliances, etc.)
- Residential Building Retrofit Tax Credit. The goal is to create incentives for residential homeowners to increase the energy efficiency of their homes. It will likely have a suite of prescriptive measures that can be taken to update/replace appliances and improve overall energy efficiency in existing residential buildings.
- Expanded Electrification. Sponsored by Senator Bill Soules. While no details are currently available, Senator Soules has forecast two bills expanding electrification of new school buildings and state vehicle fleets. The Senator has stated: “…I will introduce legislation in January that all new school buildings will be required to have solar generation in order to receive state PSCOC [Public School Capital Outlay Council] funding.” And “In January I will be introducing legislation to require all state purchased cars and light trucks to be all electric by 2030.”
- Environmental Database Act. Sponsored by Senator Mimi Stewart and Representative Gail Chasey. Establishes a single web-based information portal for city, county, and public access to state environmental data. Provides for governmental transparency, agency cooperation, and information sharing, and access to current scientific data. Among sources of data that would be aggregated: NM EMNRD may include oil and gas wells and pipelines, active mines, utility scale solar and wind projects on state land, rare plant data, etc. NM ED may include locations of permits for sources of air pollution, surface waters, state superfund sites, etc. NM SLO may include locations of state trust land leases and active Rights of Way across state trust land, etc. Data from NM Dept of Health may include health impact assessments, poverty levels by zip code, child asthma rates by zip code, etc. Data from NM Dept of Game and Fish may include critical habitat for threatened and endangered species, wildlife corridors, important bird/plant areas, fish management waters, etc.
- Comprehensive Climate Bill. Sponsored by House Speaker Brian Egolf. While no details are currently available, Rep. Egolf has indicated he will introduce a “comprehensive climate package” which “will set emissions limits.”
- Fracking Moratorium. Sponsored by Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez. No language yet.
- Independent Redistricting Commission, advanced by Fair Districting NM.Still unclear if this will be introduced. Waiting for information from Fair Districting NM.
- Prevent Disclosure of Personal Information by State Agencies. No language yet.
- Increase Funding for Rural Libraries. No language yet.
- Legalize End-of-Life Options. No language yet.
- Paid Legislature. No language yet.
- Ban the Use of Produced Water Outside of Fracking Operations. Being drafted by Sen. Sedillo-Lopez. No language yet.
- Renewable Energy Infrastructure Investment. No language yet.
- Covid Small-Business Relief. We have not seen a bill advancing this concept.