Next Action or Event: No meetings planned but follow the blog and sign up for the Statewide Response Network to keep informed.
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 midterms. Our Roundhouse Advocacy Team (Rat Pack) has steadily grown since the midterms from 30-40 to over 50 folks attending. And so….
Our next meeting will begin at 6pm and will be a potluck where you can get to know others working with us. We will also have a few guest speakers with Vigil from NM Voices for Children being confirmed. The last 30 minutes will be devoted to an orientation to the Rat Pack, our Statewide Rapid Response Network and what you can do to help. We wanted to put this last so that folks could enjoy the food warm and the beverages cool. Please bring your own non-paper or plastic dishes, forks/knives and drinking glass. We want to reduce our plastic and paper waste.
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 action at the Roundhouse begins January 15, to have an impact we need to build the infrastructure of advocacy now. We are planning at least three meetings in the month in January (Jan 3, Jan 10 and Jan 17). Our next action meeting and any other smaller team meetings will always be posted at the top of this page.
If you plan to attend, 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: Paul@RetakeOurDemocracy.org. 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.
For the past several months, Retake has been focusing on getting people elected, throwing House Parties for candidates, organizing and participating in canvassing and phone banking, etc. Now it is time so shift to legislative advocacy. And we have the table set nicely for success, so we need to really hunker down.
For two 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.
Boy have things changed. This is an unbelievable opportunity and we have a plan, but to maximize the impact of that plan we need you….actually we need lots of you. So if this is something you want to get involved with read on, then share it with friends and come this Thursday to find out more.
For those of you who have not been involved with the Roundhouse Team, while not essential, I’d suggest that you take a look at three documents before attending.
- Our Retake Election and Legislative Strategy that outlines what the RAT Pack is all about.
- Our list of 29 Legislative Priorities for 2019. We created an online survey based upon this list and we used it to build a statewide network and find out more about the aspirations oft New Mexicans.
- If you haven’t taken the legislative survey you can take it here. It takes about 30 minutes to complete but will orient you to what we are advocating for:
What You Can Do Now.
Between now and January 15, 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 1200 folks completed Retake’s Legislative Survey. In the survey they told us their bill priorities but they also told us the degree to which they want to be involved and the State House and Senate Districts in which they lived. We need to call these folks, find out if they are even more motivated now to get involved and seek their help in expanding the base in these more distant districts. These are people who can’t often come to the Roundhouse, but if alerted when key bills are going to committees where their representative will be voting, they can send emails and call. We need to use November and December to significantly expand our base in these districts by calling those people who completed the survey and by working with other organizations to obtain their help: Ward Chairs, County Democratic Chairs, Indivisible groups and interfaith alliances. We need to engage them all.
- 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. I am told that there could be as many as 4000 bills that begin to be submitted in mid-December. We’ll need people prepared to scan these bills 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. 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 press releases and circulate them to the media. We need people to serve as Roundhouse Coordinators on specific days, directing others to the right hearing rooms and providing speaking points. There will also be the need to enter data, develop flyers, manage our database and send updates to members of the Response Network. And I am quite certain we will identify other roles as we move forward.
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?
What We Can Accomplish
Imagine on March 16, 2019, the legislative session closes and the Governor signs each of the bills below. This is not a final list of priorities. As new bills are introduced we will revise this list. Think back on how euphoric you felt on election night 2018 when the NM results became final. Now imagine how you will feel on March 16 if you have played a role in making these bills law. We include the bill number and the year of the bill to make it easier to identify. Each year, bills that are resubmitted are re-filed and receive a different number, so in 2019 the bills will receive a new bill number on the day the session opens.
Click here to review our most recent list of MUST PASS bills.
As noted above, there may well be a few other bills we identify and, after discussion, we may decide to drop one or two of these. But these are 14 great bills. Imagine March 16, every single one of these becomes law, and you can sit back and take pride in having been an important part of it.
Let’s Do This! Please come to our Roundhouse Advocacy Team Planning Meetings at 1420 Cerrillos Rd., Santa Fe, on alternate Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information about meetings, follow the blog at retakeourdemocracy.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul & Roxanne