After expiring in 2016, this year we saw the re-establishment of the rooftop solar tax credit thanks to the persistence and advocacy of Senator Mimi Stewart. SB 29 allows taxpayers to claim 10% of the cost of a rooftop solar installation up to $6,000. This tax credit had a demonstrable impact on growing rooftop solar jobs, and its reinstatement will help put rooftop solar back in reach for more New Mexicans.
While the Agricultural and Natural Resources Trust Act didn’t pass, HB 223 started a robust and bipartisan conversation about funding sources for conservation projects. Although the state has some existing funds for habitat restoration, conservation easement establishment and land acquisition, those funds have been underutilized in recent years. As more state agencies embrace the concept of landscape level planning, they will need more flexible tools to manage habitat and watershed restoration projects, as well as rangeland improvements and easements. New Mexico will also need to ensure that there is equitable access to these funds for communities of color.
In the “near miss” category, the legislature came within minutes of passing a tax credit for the purchase of electric vehicles. Technically, both chambers passed the bill, but with small variations. Time ran out for the chambers to reconcile the differences between the two bills with just a few hours remaining on the last day of the session. Ultimately a Republican filibuster guaranteed that the tax credit wouldn’t have enough time for this final step in the process. Look for this one again in the future.
The successful passage of HB 233 directed EMNRD to develop a roadmap and grant program to modernize the electrical grid. While it may not have been the highest profile bill during the session, this has the potential to have a significant impact in the coming years as the state’s utilities continue to add renewable energy resources to satisfy the requirements of the Energy Transition Act (ETA) of 2019.
The conversation about the structure and duties of the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) continued in 2020 with the introduction of HB 11, which would have restructured and expanded the PRC staff. The PRC has been plagued by dysfunction in recent years and the complexity of the ETA and its requirements revealed the limitations of the current PRC structure. More will likely need to be done to ensure that it’s able to manage the workload effectively.
Senator Liz Stefanics (97% lifetime score) took over the influential Senate Conservation Committee for the 2020 session, as Senator Joseph Cervantes shifted to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee. While the committee wasn’t as busy as it will be in the 2021 session (due to the short budget session), Senator Stefanics settled in to the gavel role quickly and comfortably. We’re excited to have her leadership chairing this important committee moving forward!
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.