New Speaker: The 2023 session saw a new Speaker of the New Mexico House assume the gavel as Representative Javier Martinez was elected to succeed the outgoing Brian Egolf. One of his first moves was to shake up House committees, most notably favoring Rep. Nathan Small for chair of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee (HAFC) over Rep. Patty Lundstrom, who had held that position since 2017. The fiscal year 2025 budget development process may look somewhat different from previous years with a new HAFC chair.
New Director of LFC: A new Director of the Legislative Finance Committee! Longtime director David Abbey announced his retirement after serving since 1997, a 25 year run in that position capping off 40 years working at the State Legislature. His encyclopedic knowledge of the state’s operating budget specifically, and state government generally, made him one of the people most responsible for the final shape of the state budget every year.
Rule Change: Previous years saw the Republican caucus in the NM State House of Representatives deploy various tools to waste time in legislative sessions in an effort to limit the number of bills that could pass. The most notorious of these is the rule that limits floor debate on a bill to no more than 3 hours, at which point the bill moves to a vote on final passage. In past years, every bill, no matter how much bipartisan support it may have enjoyed, was debated for 3 hours in an attempt to limit the number of bills that could get a final vote before time ran out. This year saw a change with new floor leadership for both parties and apparently a detente has been negotiated. Even late in the legislative session, bills were getting on and off the floor in much less time. The end result is more low-profile but needed bills passing and fewer late nights for the House of Representatives.
Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund: One of the biggest successes of this legislative session was a generational investment in recurring funding for conservation work in New Mexico. The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund and Permanent Fund were both established via SB 9 and both received $50 million in funding, for a total of $100 million. The permanent fund will need more investment in coming years to produce the sort of yields needed to adequately fund the slate of conservation and restoration programs that its beneficiaries. Watch this space for more news in the coming years!
Game and Fish Changes: The 2023 session saw more bills attempting to reform both the Department of Game and Fish and the Game Commission, in terms of both overall mission and membership. While none were successful, the conversation about moving the agency (and commission) beyond just managing for the success of a few game species continues. While progress has been slow, we anticipate that change is coming on that front and we could have a more representative Commission and a better focus on wildlife management.
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.