Roundhouse Advocacy Strategy: Your Chance to Create Justice in NM

Next Action or Event:  Th, Dec. 13, 6:00-8:00pm Center for Progress & Justice, 1420 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe

The Dec 6 Meeting Was Postponed to Dec. 13.  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 last Tuesday. Our Roundhouse Advocacy Team (Rat Pack) grew from 5-6 to over 40 at the Nov 15 meeting and there are still more people each to join, but who couldn’t attend the last meeting.  And so….

Our next meeting will begin at 6pm and for the first 30 minutes will provide an orientation to the Rat Pack, our Statewide Rapid Response Network and what you can do to help. The rest of the meeting will include training on: How to Use the Roundhouse’s Website at nmlegis.gov.  It is an invaluable tool with a wealth of information on how legislature, our legislators, committee hearing schedules and most importantly updated summaries of bills as they are introduced and then amended.  I say it has an immense amount of info, but it also takes awhile to figure out how to use it and all that is there.  This training will show you very clearly what is there and how to use it.  We will also hand out specific assignments to people who have signed up to support our work.

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 ongoing meetings on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month in December (Dec 4 and Dec 18), but small teams may also be meeting in December.  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 Thursday’s meeting 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

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.

https://retakeourdemocracy.org/retake-our-democracys-2018-19-electoral-and-legislative-strategy-2/

  • 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.

https://retakeourdemocracy.org/2019-new-mexico-priorities/

  • 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:

https://retakeourdemocracy.org/click-to-take-the-legislative-priorities-survey/

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
    1 students roundhouse 2

    When a hearing room is packed, those legislators really take notice. Let’s pack ’em.

    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 differenced?

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.

1.  HB (2018) Abortion Decriminalization, would rescind a 1969 statute making abortion illegal in NM in most instances. Roe v. Wade’s passage in 1973 made this bill unconstitutional, however with the court system’s steady slide to the right, this is an important bill to rescind.

2.  HB 101/SB 72 (2017) Health Security Act.  This will likely be our number one priority or very near the top.  Passing this would have huge national implications.  To read a great summary of the bill and its importance, go to this guest blog written by Ken Baumann from Democratic Socialist of America (DSA): https://retakeourdemocracy.org/2018/11/10/time-to-get-ready-for-the-roundhouse-today-the-health-security-act-a-report-on-lanl-midterm-update/.

3.  SB 7 (2017) Sexual Assault Lab Kit. This bill would provide sufficient funding to increase the number of technicians dedicated to eliminating the current 1-2 year backlog.  It is shameful that women who have been raped and then submitted to lab testing then find the results unexamined for months or even years. This bill absolutely can and will pass if we push. This should be an easy  and long overdue win. 

4.  SB 259 (2017) No Firearms for Persons Under Protective Order.  The bill prohibits firearms to those involved in a domestic violence dispute.  No gun measure is easy. One of the leaders of the gun safety movement, Miranda Viscoli, may come to one of our meetings to discuss her priorities, and we will undoubtedly fall in behind whatever she directs us to prioritize, but this would be a good start.

5.  HB 67 (2017) Minimum Wage. Raises the minimum wage to $10 immediately and to $12 in 2020 with a COLA. We can get this one.

6.  HB 26/SB 15 (2017) Small Lending Interest Caps,  AKA predatory lending limit. This is an economic and racial justice issue. It is criminal that before the 2017 session, lenders could charge as much as 1000% in annual interest (not a typo). In 2017, the best we could do was reduce the limit to 175% and call it a win, which was legislative malpractice. This bill would set the rate at 36% and not one percent more. This is a line in the sand.

7.  HJR 1 (2017) Permanent Funds for Early Childhood; 1% from Permanent Fund for early childhood education. We may find other ways to expand funding for early childhood, given a budget surplus estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars, but we need to invest in our future and this is where it begins.

8.  HB 28 (2017) Drivers License Automatic Voter Registration. This was a priority in 2017, but in 2019 we may adjust our election reform bill priorities based on input from Common Cause.

9.  HB 312 (2018).  Cannabis Taxation and Regulation. Sponsored by Javier Martinez and Bill McCamley, this bill would create the legal and regulatory framework for legalizing and taxing the sale of recreational marijuana.

10.  SJR 7 (2017). Elect President by Popular Vote.  This was not among our priority bills from prior sessions, but given the 2016 election results, this bill is now a priority. Once enough states pass this bill so that the collective number of electoral votes reaches 270, enough to elect a President, then the bill would require each of those states to cast all of their electoral votes for the candidate with the most popular votes, effectively eliminating the electoral college as a basis for selecting our President.

11.  HB 82/HB 193 (2017) Solar Market Tax Credit Permanent /Make Permanent Solar Market Tax Credit .  Here are two very similar bills from 2017, one extending the Solar Tax Credit and the other making it permanent. It is entirely likely that we will add to this list Community Solar and Energy Choice bills as well.

12.  HB 77 (2017) Energy Storage Tax Credit.  This bill would provide a tax credit to residents and business for installation of renewable energy storage systems.

13.  Just Transition to Renewables (not previously introduced).  This bill will be a grounded plan for a just transition to a renewable energy future with funding to make it happen. Sen. McSorley is working on this, and it should be wedded to the new Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) that will update the goal of increasing the percentage of renewable energy used in our state. For those new to this, RPS is essentially the state’s non-binding goals for a mix of renewables and other energy sources in the future. The bill McSorley is developing would presumably create funding and more binding objectives to put muscle to the RPS projections. Can you say 80% renewable energy statewide by 2030?

14. Comprehensive Tax Reform (not previously introduced). NM Voices for Children is putting together an updated set of priorities, and we should follow Bill Jordan’s lead on this. Sadly, with Sen. Smith and Sen. Sanchez still in place, we may lose our most ambitious goal, but this is one worth fighting for. NM has the most regressive state tax system in the nation, with our poorest tax payers paying almost 3 times the percentage of their income in state and local taxes as our wealthiest tax payers. Not to mention the myriad of corporate tax giveaways ushered in over the past 12 years.

 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 paul@retakeourdemocracy.org.

 

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne