Welcome to CVNM’s 2023 Legislative Scorecard! The Conservation Scorecard is your primary tool to hold legislators accountable for both the good work they have done to protect our natural and cultural heritage, as well as for their failure to step up. Please use this Scorecard as a tool to push your legislators to elevate your values in their votes. When legislators vote with their constituents’ conservation values, New Mexico communities win.
Comprehensive climate action to further reduce emissions failed in the session, just as it has in the previous two sessions, leaving New Mexico without an overarching climate framework for building a zero-emission economy. HB 188 (Economic Transition Division), one of our Priority bills, would have begun addressing the economic transition that must accompany the energy transition. However, the bill was subjected to a great deal of political maneuvering and failed in committee, although the issue received some funding in the budget as part of $100 million for “Energy and Economic Transition” spending.
SB 520 (Clean Future Act) would have been the first critical step toward establishing statewide climate action. Unfortunately, it came late in the session after prolonged discussions with the Lujan Grisham Administration, climate action groups, and other stakeholders failed to produce a bill with widespread support. CVNM stepped in at the last minute to preserve some forward momentum, but it was too late. Despite the frustration of not passing framework climate legislation, HB 95 (Renewable Energy Office in the State Land Office) passed and was signed into law. It will help continue the escalating pace of development of renewable energy sources – wind, solar, geothermal – on state lands.
We and our climate allies were optimistic that there would at least be some funding for consumer and commercial tax credits for electric vehicles and charging stations, energy storage, and geothermal energy production. However, the Governor line item-vetoed all the climate and energy tax credits from the budget, although she promised that in 2024 that she would approve even larger credits.
The continued delay in getting foundational climate action reflects the corrosive influence of the oil and gas industry on the political process. Many elected officials say they don’t want to lose the massive increase in state revenues from oil and gas production. But this ignores the fact that we need to act quickly and decisively on climate and energy policy, and that the revenues from a finite resource will not last. Lack of adequate planning for that inevitable fact will cripple the state for many years.
On the other hand, we had an immense victory with bipartisan passage of SB 9 (Create Legacy Permanent Funds). SB 9 created an annual operating fund and a permanent, sustainable investment fund whose interest will feed the operating fund. Along with passage of the bill, the legislature authorized $100 million divided between the two funds. We and our allies are now working to get at least an additional $300 million for the investment Permanent Fund so it can provide for effective and sustainable action across a dozen existing conservation, restoration and acquisition programs housed at six state agencies. The legislature also passed additional bills for better management of our waters, forests and wildlife. Permanent funding will allow long-term planning and implementation across agencies and with tribes, private landholders, and the conservation and outdoor recreation communities. This will better protect us from extreme weather conditions like wildfire, flooding and drought and preserve our cultural heritage and outdoor traditions, leaving a natural and cultural legacy for generations to come.
In another victory, the legislature passed HB 4 (Voting Rights Protection Act). HB 4 makes substantial changes to state election law. These include: Native American Votings Rights; voter protections; creation and enforcement of a permanent absentee list; restoration of voting rights to citizens convicted of felonies; upgrades to secure automatic voter registration; and marking Election Day as a school holiday. We are already working with Navajo and Pueblo voting rights advocates to educate Native voters about the new law and how to implement it in 2024.
Please explore the 2023 Legislative Scorecard, learn how your elected representatives voted, and let them know that you “know the score.”
Thank you for being a Conservation Voter,
CVNM Executive Director