Each legislative session is unique and develops its own culture and character. The 2013 and 2014 sessions were no different. Here are a few highlights from each, along with one perpetual lowlight.
The 2014 session marked the 10th year in a row that CVNM and our allies have successfully defended against 100% of the anti-conservation bills in the New Mexico legislature. It’s a remarkable accomplishment — one of which we are very proud.
Here are just a few examples of harmful measures we worked to successfully defeat:
- In 2013, CVNM worked with allies to help defeat measures that would have gutted our renewable energy and efficiency standards, immunized illegal or negligent factory farms from legal action, weakened our water quality protections and enabled the privatization of critical public services (e.g. water systems) without adequate safeguards, oversight or taxpayer protections.
- In 2014, CVNM spearheaded opposition to a bill that would have allowed polluting companies and sprawl developments to negotiate subsidized utility rates — subsidies paid for by working families, schools and smaller businesses.
Our 100% record of defeating environmental rollbacks wouldn’t be possible without our many legislative champions — especially those in leadership positions, including committee chairs. As always, we are grateful for their efforts.
The 2013 session was remarkable for the appearance of a new group of champions elected for the first time in 2012: senators and representatives for whom protection of our air, land and water is a key priority. Reps. Georgene Louis, Patricia Roybal Caballero, Liz Thomson and Christine Trujillo, and Sens. Jacob Candelaria and Bill Soules, are examples of this new cohort of champions — and there are several others as well.
The 2013 session also saw the welcome return of Reps. Jeff Steinborn and Nate Cote from Dona Ana County. Once again, both legislators boasted perfect 100% voting records! Sadly, 2014 was Rep. Cote’s last session; he opted not to run for re-election this year and he will be missed.
Unfortunately, a few obstacles to sound environmental policy are so entrenched that clean air and water for all New Mexicans — now and in the future — seems an almost-impossible goal.
Although protecting the health of our communities and environment is important to New Mexicans across the entire political spectrum, that same commitment is not reflected by our elected officials in the Roundhouse.
All too often, votes are cast along predictably partisan lines. To the extent that there is crossover in partisan support for, or opposition to, environmental safeguards, the crossover generally consists of more conservative Democrats siding with Republicans against common-sense protections.
This is not the case in other state capitols. In places as diverse as Idaho and South Carolina, Republicans have a strong conservation ethic, and a number of Republican legislators have nearly-perfect environmental voting records.
One of the founders of the modern conservation movement was President Teddy Roosevelt, and several other Republican presidents — including Nixon and Coolidge — supported sound conservation policies. Many Republican governors — most notably Tom McCall from Oregon, and our own Dave Cargo — have been at the vanguard of environmental protection.
It begs the question: what happened? When will Republican legislators embrace their party’s conservation heritage? When will clean air and water stop being fodder for partisan squabbles? For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we hope it will be soon.
Know the Score > Take Action
Say ‘thanks’ … or, ‘no thanks’!
Tell your Legislators that you ‘know the score’
One of the best ways to influence the voting records of your elected officials is to communicate regularly with them. If your legislators scored well, it’s important to thank them and to support them. If you feel you weren’t well-represented by your legislators’ votes, it’s important to hold them accountable by letting them know what you think about their votes. The Scorecard is your key to staying informed on your legislators votes and getting in touch with them.
Communicate with the Governor and your Legislators
Whether you’re congratulating them on their score or expressing your disappointment, be direct, courteous and polite.
The most important part is letting them know that you are paying close attention to how they vote or, in the case of the Governor, what actions she takes on legislation that affects our air, land, and water.
Calling your legislator directly and sending letters through regular mail remain by far the most effective ways to communicate with your legislators.
The Governor and Lieutenant Governor can always be contacted at the State Capitol. Except during the legislative session, state legislators should be contacted in their home districts, as listed on the current Legislators page.