Roundhouse Advocacy Strategy: Your Chance to Create Justice in NM

This document is meant to serve as an orientation for folks who suddenly see all that is possible in NM and who want to continue to flex their muscles after experiencing the flush of success in the 2018 midterms and during the 2019 legislative session.

Certainly, we accomplished a good deal in 2019, but we also had many good bills die in committee, especially bills related to climate change. To better understand how the Roundhouse works and what happened in the 2019 session take a look at our Report Card on the session. It identifies how good bills die and it names names.

We meet at 1420 Cerrillos in Santa Fe at least once a month and for those living at a distant, we also live stream those meetings. Best to check our schedule at our Events & Actions page.

This page is designed to give you a jump start on the orientation and to help you figure out if you’d like to be involved. Hope so.

While the 2020 Legislative session doesn’t begin until Jan 21, we need to build the infrastructure of advocacy now.

If you plan to attend one of our meetings, please consider inviting a couple of funds and double or triple your impact and the fun involved. It is much more fun to do this work with friends. And please email me to let me know you are coming. We need to be prepared with tables and chairs for all. Write to me at: LET’S DO THIS!

The rest of this post provides historic context for the opportunity we have, how to prepare yourself for one of our meetings if you have not been involved, to date, what we will discuss at the meeting and some of our ambitious goals. The goals have to be ambitious after so long on defense and with a Democratic Governor who will sign good bills, not veto them.

The Context

During 2018, Retake has been focusing on getting people elected, throwing House Parties for candidates, organizing and participating in canvassing and phone banking, etc. During the 2019 legislative session we had over 1300 folks subscribed to our statewide alert system. Our alerts included bill summaries, bill number, speaking points and contact information for your legislators.

From what we’ve been told, these people very much enjoyed receiving daily alerts during the session with many telling us how in 15 minutes each morning they were able to raise their voices on bills they cared about.

We were quite successful in 2019 but there is more to be done in 2020. And Now is the time to get ready.

For over three years, the Roundhouse Advocacy Team, or RAT Pack has been hard at work to be ready for this moment. RAT Pack members have had countless conversations with non-profit advocacy organizations like Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, ACLU, and NM Voices for Children. We also spoke with numerous State Legislators to find out more about how the Roundhouse works and what we need to effectively advocate for good bills.  From those conversations we identified how good bills have stalled in committees, often with the help of unsupportive Democrats. We learned what bills that had not been passed were most important to our non-profit allies.

From these conversations we also learned who are the key Democratic legislators who have historically killed good bills by voting with the GOP in committee or simply by being absent from a key vote. Using this information, we developed a 2018-2019 Election & Legislative Strategy (below) that began by working to unseat Debbie Rodella and Carl Trujillo from the State House.and electing Abbas Akhil as the first climate scientist to join the NM State House in District 20. We also endorsed eleven candidates for the NM House and every last one of them has been elected. In truth, we played only minor roles in most of those eleven, but in several we were very, very involved.

Not limiting ourselves to the Roundhouse, we also worked hard with our partners to unseat Sandy Jones and Lynda Lovejoy from the Public Regulation Commission.  And we also played an important supportive role in the huge grassroots effort that elected Xochitl Torres Small to the US House. While Retake was important to those wins, many, many other individuals and groups also played important roles and we need to engage them and focus their energy on advocating for, passing and signing good bills that in the past died in committee or were vetoed by Susana Martinez.

As much as things have things changed, it is very clear that we need to be more vigilant in 2020. Too many good bills like Abortion Decriminalization, Community Solar, Public Banking, Permanent Funding for Early Childhood and Extreme Risk Protection gun violence prevention legislation didn’t make it to the Governor. They need to in 2020. To keep up to date, please consider joining our Response Network.

What You Can Do Now.

Between now and January 21, we have a good deal to do to be ready. There are roles for people who want to support our work from home and for those who want to experience the thrill of working at the Roundhouse. We need to:

  • Expand Our Base and the Rapid Response Network. We need to develop our base in other parts of NM. Legislators representing Las Cruces, San Juan or Gallup do not particularly care what Santa Feans think. But they care deeply about what their constituents think.  We used our Legislative Survey to build bases of power in districts throughout the state.  Over 1400 joined our Response Network but we need many more if we are to achieve our full impact. So please after you join, write to others and ask that they do so.
  • Develop materials.  Committee assignments have been made and we need to develop lists of all the committees and their members, compile contact email addresses, room numbers and phone numbers and use this to share with our Rapid Response Network. We need to develop bill summaries for the bills we know we want to support, so that when new bills emerge we have time to consider them and create summaries for the new bills we will support. We need to research these bills to identify their potential impact and develop speaking and writing points to make it easier for Rapid Response Network members to lobby with their elected representatives.
  • Prioritize our Goals.  We can’t advocate for every good bill so together we must prioritize. We’ll need people prepared to scan bills as they are introduced and identify those we might want to consider supporting and, as importantly, those we will oppose. And then together we need to take stock of our capacity and the bills we could potentially support.
  • Fill Session Roles and Responsibilities.  We will have tons of roles to be performed during the Roundhouse session and we need to identify and train folks to perform these roles.
1 students roundhouse 2
When a hearing room is packed, those legislators really take notice. Let’s pack ’em.

We need people who will come to the Roundhouse to attend hearings and even to testify in support of bills.

We need people to be assigned a specific cadre of legislators to visit their offices throughout the session and circulate flyers on different bills while cultivating relationships with the legislators and their staff.

We need people to write letters to the editor. 

We need people to serve as Roundhouse Coordinators on specific days, directing others to the right hearing rooms and providing speaking points.

The degree to which we are successful will ENTIRELY depend upon how many of you take interest and translate it into action and how many of you make a decision, not only to get active, but to get a couple of other friends to join you. With one or two dozen people here in Santa Fe, we can have a significant impact, but with several dozen, we can have a huge one. What’s the difference?

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

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