It’s normal to have some turnover election to election, particularly in the New Mexico House of Representatives. Serving in the legislature is still an unpaid position that requires nearly a full time commitment year round. It leads to an unusually high attrition rate as legislators struggle to balance their legislative and constituent work, their day jobs, and their personal and family commitments. However, party leadership turnover is far less common.
On the final day of the 2022 legislative session, Speaker Brian Egolf announced his retirement from the New Mexico House of Representatives. Viewed solely as a legislator, his 12 year legislative career is exceptional, achieving a 98% lifetime score in CVNM’s Conservation Scorecard.
His exceptional voting record doesn’t even tell the whole story. His command and understanding of complex energy and environmental issues consistently set him apart from his House colleagues. He frequently played a key role in explaining and interpreting complex energy legislation for his caucus. Even before becoming Speaker, CVNM honored him in 2015 with our Luminaria Award “for his bold leadership in protecting New Mexico’s land, air, water and healthy communities.”
In 2017, Egolf was elected by his colleagues to be Speaker of the House. This was an important moment for environmental policy in the legislative process. Egolf’s understanding of complex regulatory policy, bridge building across party lines and ideology, and ability to unify his caucus all combined to create an environment where climate and conservation policy moved to the forefront.
The Speaker of the House plays several important roles. First, they’re responsible for assigning House members to committees, which is critical for creating a pathway for conservation legislation to move to the floor. Speakers also assign bills to committees on introduction, which affects their likelihood of passage based on both the votes in a particular committee and the timing of the legislative process. Finally, and maybe most critically, they manage the order and flow of bills being heard on the House floor. As Speaker, Rep. Egolf not only prioritized environmental and climate legislation, he used virtually every tool at his disposal to ensure that those bills had the best chance of passage.
Rep. Egolf utilized all of these tools to oversee one of the most productive and successful Speakerships in New Mexico history for environmental protection. Speaker Egolf played pivotal roles in the passage of the Community Solar Act, a bill reinstating the Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department’s ability to assess administrative fines and fees, creation of New Mexico’s Outdoor Recreation Division, and of course the Energy Transition Act – New Mexico’s most significant action to date to address climate change.
Serving in the New Mexico legislature can exact a heavy toll. As an essentially full time, unpaid position (but for a small stipend), it’s particularly difficult for parents of young children. This challenge is amplified for anyone in a leadership role. With these conditions as the background, the legislative achievements of Speaker Egolf’s tenure shine even brighter. We are grateful for Speaker Egolf’s leadership during his tenure in the House, and look to the incoming legislative cycle to continue to move climate and conservation policy to the forefront of the legislative process.
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.