State Representative Jason C. Harper (R)
- Lifetime Score:
- 2021 Score:
- 2020 Score:
- 2019 Score:
- 2018 Score:
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- 2013 - 2014 Score:
- = Pro Conservation Vote
- = Anti Conservation Vote
- A = Absent
- E = Excused
- R = Recused
- W = Abstain
- Air Quality
- Energy &
- Wildlife & Habitat
Sustainable Building Tax Credit more
Summary: HB 15 extends and expands the sustainable building tax credit and adds incentives involving LEED. The existing tax credit is applied to construction begun prior to 2021 and completed by the end of 2021.
Outcome: HB 15 passed the House 48-22 and the Senate 29-6. The bill was signed by the Governor on April 6, 2021.
Environmental Database Act more
Summary: HB 51 creates a centralized, map-based, searchable website to provide various geographic data, information on public health, wildlife status, and other interrelated environmental and energy industry data in order to enhance transparency and interagency cooperation.
Outcome: HB 51 passed the House 44-25 and the Senate 29-12. The bill was signed by the Governor on April 7, 2021.
EIB Permit Denial for Poor Performance more
Summary: HB 76 allows the Environmental Improvement Board to revoke permits for projects if companies refuse to disclose information, misrepresent material facts, have prior court convictions, operate without a permit, or have a previous revocation.
Outcome: HB 76 passed the House 42-26 and the Senate 23-15. The bill was signed by the Governor on April 6, 2021.
Water Trust Board Projects & NM Unit Fund more
Summary: HB 200 prevents NM Unit Fund monies from being used on any diversion of the Gila River and redirects funding to meet water supply demands in the southwest water planning region of New Mexico.
Outcome: HB 200 passed the House 43-24 and the Senate 26-15. The bill was signed by the Governor on April 5, 2021.
Utility Affordability & Relief Act more
Summary: HB 206 prevented utility services from being disconnected for customers impacted by Covid-19, created a bill relief program, and funds for low-income household energy efficiency efforts.
Outcome: HB 206 passed the House 39-31, but died in the Senate Finance Committee.
Natural Resources & Lands Protection more
Summary: HB 265 offered technical fixes to the Natural Lands Protection Act and Natural Heritage Conservation Act to allow state agencies to directly acquire and manage lands, and conservation and restoration-focused nonprofits to apply directly for restoration and conservation funding.
Outcome: HB 265 passed the House 40-29, but died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Improvement Special Assessment Act more
Summary: HB 299 authorized special assessment programs to be authorized to support energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation, resiliency, and other implements. It would have also provided more financial tools for homeworkers to make households more energy efficient.
Outcome: HB 299 passed the House 42-26, but died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Local Government Air Quality Regulations more
Summary: SB 8 allows state agencies and local boards to adopt rules that ensure a maximum ozone concentration of 95 percent of the national ambient air quality standard for ozone. It also allows the state to adopt rules that are stronger than current federal standards.
Outcome: SB 8 passed the Senate 23-15 and the House 39-29. The bill was signed by the Governor on April 8, 2021.
Wildlife Conservation & Public Safety Act more
Summary: SB 32 bans the use of non-essential traps, snares and wildlife poisons on public lands in New Mexico.
Outcome: SB 32 passed the Senate 23-16 and the House 35-34. The bill was signed by the Governor on April 5, 2021.
Community Solar Act more
Summary: SB 84 increases access to renewable energy resources by creating a subscriber-based community solar program.
Outcome: SB 84 passed the Senate 27-14 and the House 44-3. The bill was signed by the Governor on April 5, 2021.
Sustainable Economy Task Force more
Summary: SB 112 establishes a task force that will develop a strategic plan and identify ways to develop a sustainable economy with diversified revenues, especially for communities dependent on natural resource extraction.
Outcome: SB 112 passed the Senate 25-16 and the House 40-25. It was signed by the Governor on April 5, 2021.
Community Solar Act more
Summary: HB 9 provided for the establishment of a phased-in community solar program to facilitate the development and interconnection of community solar facilities. It also created a low-income assistance fund to benefit low-income subscribers. This would have stimulated the growth of the solar industry and expanded the number of New Mexicans who have access to solar energy.
Outcome: HB 9 passed out of committee but failed in the House 28-36.
PRC Reorganization & Transfer Duties more
Summary: HB 11 would have turned existing Public Regulation Commission (PRC) advocacy staff into two entities: a Commissioner Resources Division to supplement PRC commissioners and hearing examiners in their understanding, and a separate Office of PRC Regulatory Affairs housed in New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department that would advocate in the public interest. The bill also included some staff restructuring to provide some continuity for existing PRC staff.
Outcome: HB 11 passed the House 36-34, but was tabled and died in the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee.
Gas Taxes, New Funds & Distributions more
Summary: HB 173 imposed new gas and special fuel surtaxes that would have funded the new Clean Infrastructure Fund and a new Low-Income Rebate Fund. These funds would have resourced pro-conservation infrastructure improvements, and rebates to low-income taxpayers for their payment of gas and special fuel surtaxes.
Outcome: HB 173 was tabled and died in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.
Electric Vehicle Income Tax Credit more
Summary: HB 217 established an income tax credit for the purchase of an electric vehicle, and capped the electric vehicle value at less than $48,000 MSRP. It also established an income tax credit for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations. This bill could have encouraged the sale of affordable electric vehicles and encouraged the development of vehicle charging infrastructure.
Outcome: HB 217 passed the House 40-27 and passed the Senate 23-13. The House failed to concur with the Senate amendments due to filibuster and the bill died.
Solar Market Development Income Tax Credit more
Summary: SB 29 reinstates and extends the tax credit for residential and commercial construction of solar systems and establishes an aggregate cap. This incentivizes installation of solar thermal and photovoltaic systems and utilizing renewable resources to produce energy.
Outcome: SB 29 passed the Senate 33-6 and passed the House 51-19. The bill was signed by the Governor on March 3, 2020.
Wildlife Trafficking Act more
Summary: SB 75 made trafficking of animal species threatened with extinction a misdemeanor and establishes penalties and enforcement guidance.
Outcome: SB 75 passed the Senate 22-9 and passed the House 42-22. The bill was signed by the Governor on March 9, 2020.
Resource Sustainability and Security Act more
Summary: HB 28 would have created a sustainability and resilience council that would have developed a government wide plan to (a) ensure the long-term sustainability and resilience of New Mexico and its infrastructure and resources; (b) prepare the state for climate change; (c) reduce the vulnerability of natural and built systems, economic sectors, natural resources and communities to risk; (d) promote long-term water and energy resource security; and (e) support state economic development and diversification. The council would have provided guidance to state agencies and worked with stakeholders in creating agency plans and accomplishing the goals of the plan.
Outcome: HB 28 passed the House 40-23 and passed the Senate Conservation Committee, but died in the Senate Finance Committee.
Community Solar Act more
Summary: HB 210 (and its companion SB 281) established rules for community solar facilities and specifically reserved a portion of shares for low-income customers. The bills would have allowed renters, low-income utility customers and persons without suitable locations for solar generation on their premises to participate in local solar generation facilities by allowing subscription in community solar generation. This would have stimulated the growth of the solar industry and expanded the number of New Mexicans who have access to solar energy.
Outcome: HB 210 passed the House 42-25 and passed the Senate Conservation Committee, but died on the calendar of the Senate Judiciary Committee. SB 281 died in the Senate Conservation Committee (never heard).
State Game Commission Changes more
Summary: HB 263 established requirements and qualifications for the members of the State Game Commission to lessen the politicization of the commission and established professional qualifications for four of the seven members.
Outcome: HB 263 passed the House 45-20 but was tabled and died in the Senate Rules Committee.
Fund Investment in Renewable Energy more
Summary: HB 289 provided that no less than one percent of the market value of the severance tax permanent fund be invested in New Mexico renewable energy.
Outcome: HB 289 passed the House 43-19 and passed the Senate Conservation Committee, but died on the Senate Finance Committee calendar.
Efficient Use of Energy Act Changes more
Summary: HB 291 establishes thresholds for energy efficiency programs which, at minimum, save 5% of energy costs to customers. The bill also provides for the removal of regulatory disincentives to energy efficiency programs.
Outcome: HB 291 passed the House 58-7 and passed the Senate 27-13. The bill was signed by the Governor on April 3, 2019.
Solar Energy Improvement Assessments more
Summary: HB 440 provides that a customer may voluntarily request a solar energy improvement special assessment be applied to their property in order to access the benefits of solar technology. The bill provides that these assessments may be applied on residential or commercial property within the boundaries of an incorporated municipality in a county if the municipality adopts a resolution approving the application of the county’s ordinance.
Outcome: HB 440 passed the House 35-28 and passed the Senate 31-8. The bill was signed by the Governor on March 28, 2019.
PRC Application for Vehicle Electricity more
Summary: HB 521 requires public utilities to file applications to expand transportation electrification, i.e., charging facilities for electric vehicles. HB 521 makes rules for the approval of these applications, including the facilities' ability to meet clean air standards and inclusion of low-income people and communities.
Outcome: HB 521 passed the House 45-17 and passed the Senate 22-12. The bill was signed by the Governor on April 3, 2019.
Prohibit Coyote Killing Contests more
Summary: SB 76 prohibits organized or sponsored competitions with the objective of killing coyotes for prizes or entertainment.
Outcome: SB 76 passed the Senate 22-17 and passed the House 37-30. The bill was signed by the Governor on April 2, 2019.
Create Outdoor Recreation Division more
Summary: SB 462 creates a division of outdoor recreation in the Economic Development Department. It establishes that the Outdoor Recreation Division will (1) increase outdoor recreation-based economic development, tourism and ecotourism; (2) work to expand outdoor recreation infrastructure; (3) assist in the promotion and marketing of outdoor recreation opportunities and events; (4) assist New Mexico residents in establishing outdoor recreation-based businesses and connecting them with economic development resources and opportunities; (5) recruit out-of-state based outdoor recreation businesses to locate in New Mexico; (6) promote stewardship and preservation of New Mexico's unique environment and cultural assets; (7) promote education and use of outdoor recreation assets to enhance public health; and (8) support outdoor recreation programs at New Mexico educational institutions. The bill also establishes the Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee, the Special Projects and Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Fund and the Outdoor Equity Grant Program and Fund.
Outcome: SB 462 passed the Senate 38-0 and passed the House 52-14. The bill was signed by the Governor on April 2, 2019.
Energy Transition Act more
Summary: SB 489 sets a statewide renewable energy standard of 50% by 2030 for New Mexico investor-owned utilities and rural electric cooperatives and a goal of 80% by 2040 that investor-owned utilities must meet, subject to cost and reliability considerations. In addition, the bill sets zero-carbon resources standards for investor-owned utilities by 2045 and rural electric cooperatives by 2050. The bill establishes a pathway for an energy transition in the Four Corners area while providing relief to workers in San Juan County affected by the closure of coal units. The bill provides for training for these workers and uses low-interest bonds to finance economic relief for communities dealing with closures and directs that replacement power, including renewables, be developed in San Juan County as a means of restoring the community’s tax base.
Outcome: SB 489 passed the Senate 32-9 and passed the House 43-22. The bill was signed by the Governor on March 22, 2019.
Local Election Act more
Summary: HB 98 proposes scheduling changes to elections so that local elections occur at the same time as general elections. It also makes provisions for certain elections to be conducted by mail ballot and prohibits advisory-only questions on ballots. Having all elections scheduled together would most likely result in higher turnout for local elections, resulting in more accurate representation of voters’ support for conservation issues.
Outcome: HB 98 passed the House 51-10 and passed the Senate 25-15. The bill was signed by the Governor on March 7, 2018.
Solar Market Development Tax Credit more
Summary: SB 79 would have allowed taxpayers to take up to a 10% tax credit for installing thermal or photovoltaic solar systems, for both residential and business installations. It established a $5 million aggregate cap for the amount of tax credits taken in a year, but did not separate out residential and business installations. It was simpler than HB 36, and would have accomplished the same goal of promoting the use of renewable energy.
Outcome: SB 79 passed the Senate 35-6 and passed the House 40-26. The bill was pocket vetoed by the Governor.
Assurance for Plugging Oil & Gas Wells more
Summary: SB 189 increases the cap of the amount of the surety bond a company must post for the plugging of an inactive oil or gas well from $50,000 to $250,000. This increased amount is more in line with the cost of plugging a well and remediating a plugged well that leaks, blows out or otherwise fails.
Outcome: SB 189 passed the Senate 40-0 and passed the House 54-11. The bill was signed by the Governor on February 28, 2018.
Extend Solar Market Tax Credit more
Summary: These bills would have reinstated and extended the tax credit for residential and commercial construction of solar systems. These bills provided for gradually phasing out of the tax credit over 8 years and established an aggregate cap. This tax credit has helped many New Mexicans invest in solar energy for their homes, businesses and farms, improving the environment and public health by reducing the demand for coal-fired electricity.
Outcome: HB 61 died in the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee. HB 82 was combined with HB 61.
Public Officials as Lobbyists more
Summary: HB 73 prohibited statewide elected officials, PRC members, former legislators and cabinet secretaries from accepting compensation as lobbyists for two years after public service.
Outcome: HB 73 died on the Senate floor calendar.
Industrial Hemp Research Rules more
Summary: These bills would have allowed the NM Department of Agriculture to issue licenses to permit growing industrial hemp for research and development purposes. Industrial hemp is a versatile, fast growing and drought resistant crop that requires little pesticides or herbicides and would serve to diversify New Mexico farmers' cash crops.
Outcome: HB 144, which was combined with HB 154 and HB 280, passed the House (42-26) and Senate (30-12) and was vetoed by the Governor.
Exempt Hemp from Controlled Substances more
Summary: HB 166 would have exempted industrial hemp from the definition of "marijuana" in the Controlled Substances Act. This was an enabling bill for HB 154.
Outcome: HB 166 died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Biodiesel Standards Suspension more
Summary: HB 245 would have shortened the period of time (from six months to sixty days) that biodiesel requirements could be suspended due to unavailability or cost of biodiesel. A shorter period of suspension would have reduced emissions from pure diesel operations.
Outcome: HB 245 died in the House Labor and Economic Development Committee.
Public-Private Partnerships Act more
Summary: HB 275 would have allowed state and local governments to enter into partnerships with private sector partners to facilitate public projects. This was a sweeping measure that would have privatized projects that are most appropriately developed and maintained by public entities such as water and sewage systems. Experiences by other governments in privatizing public services (e.g. transportation, water treatment, education, public safety) have rarely been successful, usually resulting in higher costs, lower quality and expensive legal battles in the long-term.
Outcome: HB 275 died in the House Labor and Economic Development Committee.
Community Solar Gardens Act more
Summary: This bill would have allowed renters, low-income utility customers and persons without suitable locations for solar generation on their premises to participate in local solar generation facilities by allowing individuals to buy a portion of a community solar installation or "solar garden". This would have stimulated the adoption of solar energy generation by more New Mexicans by making it more accessible to more New Mexicans and reducing our dependence on coal and nuclear fueled energy.
Outcome: HB 338 failed to pass the House (31-34).
State Ethics Commission, CA more
Summary: HJR 8 will create an independent ethics commission authorized to investigate, issue opinions and adjudicate violations of laws governing standards of conduct of members of the legislative and executive branch, employees, contractors and lobbyists. A strong ethical oversight body will help to ensure that legislators are transparently representing the conservation values of their constituents.
Outcome: HJR 8 passed the House (66-0) and the Senate (30-9). The measure will now be decided by the voters in the next general election.
Industrial Hemp Research Rules more
Summary: This bill would have allowed the NM Department of Agriculture to issue licenses to permit growing industrial hemp for research and development purposes. Industrial hemp is a versatile, fast growing and drought resistant crop that requires little pesticides or herbicides and would serve to diversify New Mexico farmers' cash crops.
Outcome: SB 6 passed the Senate (37-2) and House (58-8) and was vetoed by the Governor.
Wildlife Trafficking Act more
Summary: SB 81 makes trafficking of animal species threatened with extinction a crime and establishes penalties. This will help preserve endangered species and also keep money out of the hands of international criminals.
Outcome: SB 81 passed the Senate (27-12) and the House (42-24). The bill was pocket vetoed (not signed by April 7, 2017) by the Governor.
Water Rights Notices Posted Online more
Summary: SB 86 requires the state engineer to post water rights applications on its website, encouraging more transparency in water rights assignments.
Outcome: SB 86 passed the Senate (40-0) and the House (59-0). The bill was vetoed by the Governor.
State Facility Renewable Energy Use more
Summary: SB 227 requires the General Services Department to adopt rules for and issue requests for proposals (RFP) to analyze and implement renewable energy improvements for state facilities.
Outcome: SB 227 passed the Senate (36-4) and the House (44-19). The bill was vetoed by the Governor.
Crop Dusting Tanks as Above Ground Storage more
Summary: HB 111 would have exempted above ground tanks used to store airplane fuel from environmental protection laws as long as the size of each tank was less than 10,000 gallons. Regardless of size, above ground tanks pose a risk of leaks and spills that could endanger public health and safety. Nothing in the bill suggested any justification for completely exempting these tanks from state laws; it would have removed common sense environmental protections.
Outcome: HB 111 died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Tax RateDifferential For Certain Oil more
Summary: HB 285 (and its companion SB 34) would have extended a reduction in the severance tax to oil and other liquid hydrocarbons removed from natural gas at or near the wellhead produced from a qualified enhanced recovery project that involved the application of anthropogenic carbon dioxide. Anthropogenic carbon dioxide is carbon dioxide that is produced by human activities such as oil refining. This bill would have subsidized an extremely expensive oil and gas method at the expense of other taxpayer priorities.
Outcome: HB 285 passed the House (59-7) but died in the Senate Finance Committee. SB 34 died in the Senate Finance Committee.
Convention of States more
Summary: HJR 9 applied for a convention of states under Article V of the United States Constitution. It sought to amend the Constitution of the United States to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government and limit the terms of office for its officials and for Members of Congress. By limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, one possibility was that the state may have revoked the jurisdiction of the federal government over public lands, and thus gained control to manage, develop or sell public lands.
Outcome: HJR 9 passed the House (36-27), but died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance Storage Facility more
Summary: HM 40 (and its companion SM 34) authorizes the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance to construct a consolidated interim storage facility at its site in southeastern New Mexico for the storage of spent nuclear fuel rods from commercial (for-profit) nuclear power generation plants. This facility will pose significant risks to public health and safety both at the site of the facility and during transport of the spent fuel to the facility.
Outcome: HM 40 passed the House (50-17). SM 34 passed the Senate (27-10). Memorials and resolutions do not require action by the Governor.
Lead in Sale of Recycled Metals Act more
Summary: SB 76 adds lead and lead-based products (such as lead-acid batteries) to the products regulated by the Recycled Metals Act. It helps to ensure that lead is disposed of in a way that minimizes its environmental impact.
Outcome: SB 76 passed the Senate (41-0) and the House (59-0). The bill was signed by the Governor on March 4, 2016.
Water Quality Control Commission Meetings more
Summary: HB 87 would have provided the Water Quality Control Commission with overly broad authority to decide the location of public hearings that they conduct. This would create the possibility for hearings to be conducted in a location that makes attendance difficult or impossible for communities most affected by proposed regulations or water quality standards. There is no provision in this bill to ensure that hearings regarding regulations or water quality standards are held in an area that is substantially affected by the regulation or standard.
Outcome: HB 87 passed the House (43-21) and died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Public-Private Partnership Act more
Summary: HB 299 was a sweeping measure that would privatize public entities that are most appropriately developed and maintained by public entities such as water and sewage systems. Experiences by other governments in privatizing public services (e.g. transportation, water treatment, education, public safety) have rarely been successful, usually resulting in higher costs, lower quality and expensive legal battles in the long-term.
Outcome: HB 299 passed the House (38-27) and died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Change Certain Voter ID Requirements more
Summary: HB 340 would have likely disenfranchised voters, especially minority and elderly voters who are often most disproportionately impacted by the effects of pollution and environmental injustice, by requiring a photo ID issued by a government, federal agency, recognized tribe or educational institution.
Outcome: HB 340 passed the House (37-29) and died in the Senate Rules Committee.
Oil & Gas State Preemption more
Summary: Counties and municipalities have the power to adopt local ordinances that best suit community needs and interests. To date, some communities have passed ordinances restricting certain aspects of oil and gas production in response to concerns of water contamination and health risks. HB 366 would have invalidated any county and municipality ordinance relating to oil and gas law, including zoning ordinances--removing the critical flexibility that communities need to protect the public interest on a local scale.
Outcome: HB 366 passed the House (37-28) and died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
Reduce Renewable Portfolio Standards more
Summary: The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) prompts utilities to diversify their energy production by investing in renewable energy sources like wind and solar, and holds them accountable to meet modest thresholds. HB 445 sought to weaken the state’s RPS by removing the requirement that utilities produce 20% of their energy from renewable sources by the year 2020.
Outcome: HB 445 passed the House (33-32) and died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
Right to Farm and Operations as a Nuisance more
Summary: HB 564 would have weakened a citizen’s right to legally respond when they have been impacted by the effects of pollution caused by agricultural operations.
Outcome: HB 564 passed the House (35-29) and died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Protect State Land from Chicken Listing more
Summary: The federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides key protections for vulnerable, threatened and endangered species, like the Lesser Prairie Chicken. The ESA also provides states with funding to assist with endangered species program implementation. While the goal of protecting the Lesser Prairie Chicken without federal intervention is laudable, the language resolving that all actions necessary be taken to shield public lands from ESA protections resulting from federal listing of the species raises concerns. If the Lesser Prairie Chicken is sufficiently protected through private and local actions, then the issue of federal listing becomes moot: no listing will be necessary. However, security of the species must be demonstrated first. Opposing federal listing before the species has adequate populations, habitat and protections to ensure long-term viability is woefully premature. Moreover, should resources be necessary to support regional and local protection efforts, that funding may best be secured through ESA listing.
Outcome: HM 74 passed the House (31-22). Memorials and resolutions do not require action by the Governor.
Industrial Hemp Farming Act more
Summary: Industrial hemp is an incredibly versatile, fast-growing and drought-resistant agricultural product that requires virtually no pesticides or herbicides. It can be used to produce paper, textiles, plastics, fuel and food products, and has proven very profitable for farmers in other countries. This bill would provide for licensing of the growing, selling and processing of industrial hemp in New Mexico.
Outcome: SB 94 passed the Senate (33-8) and passed the House (54-12) but was vetoed by the Governor on April 10, 2015.
Extend Solar Market Development Tax Credit more
Summary: SB 391 would extend the existing 10% tax credit for the installation of commercial, residential and agricultural solar systems, which is set to expire December 31, 2016. This 10% tax credit has helped many New Mexicans invest in solar energy for their homes, businesses and farms, improving the environment and public health by reducing the demand for coal-fired electricity.
Outcome: SB 391 passed the Senate (37-5) and passed the House (39-24) but was pocket vetoed by the Governor.
Economic Development Utility Rates more
Summary: HB 296 (and its companion SB 283) would have shifted costs for economic development utility expansion (e.g. sprawl development or industry) to other ratepayers, effectively subsidizing the expansion at the expense of small business and lower-income ratepayers. HB 296 and SB 283 were almost identical to HB 183; there were only minor differences, with the addition of an emergency clause in both HB 296 and SB 283.
Outcome: HB 296 passed the House (47-17) and was defeated in the Senate Judiciary Committee. SB 283 died on the Senate calendar.
Designation Of Benefit Corporations more
Summary: HB 40 is a common-sense measure that allows corporations to voluntarily designate themselves as “benefit corporations”, which gives them greater latitude of purpose than simple profit maximization. Benefit corporations can include social and environmental benefits in their purposes, and HB 40 specifies certain responsibilities for reporting and accountability. Protections in the bill ensure that individual shareholders can opt out at the time of designation and receive payment for their shares, and the bill also limits liability if the corporation fails to achieve its stated social or environmental purposes
Outcome: HB 40 passed the House (62-3) and passed the Senate (33-6) but was pocket vetoed by the Governor.
Oil & Gas Financial Assurance more
Summary: Much has changed since 1935, when the Oil and Gas Act was enacted. The Act is desperately in need of modernization to reflect current realities—particularly the need to adequately enforce the oil and gas industry’s responsibility to protect crucial and declining water supplies. HB 286 would have brought New Mexico’s fines and penalties in line with surrounding states like Texas and Arizona. The legislation also corrected glaring inconsistencies between the Oil and Gas Act and other state environmental statutes, ensuring equal treatment of similar activities under state law.
Outcome: HB 286 died on the House floor (32-36).
Public-Private Partnerships Act more
Summary: Similar to SB 273, but far more sweeping in the types of public projects and resources that could be privatized (e.g. dams, reservoirs, water treatment plants, utility infrastructure, etc.); HB 405 would have facilitated private control of projects that are most appropriately operated by responsive public entities. Experiences by other governments in privatizing public services (e.g. transportation, education, public safety) have rarely been successful, usually resulting in higher costs, lower quality and expensive legal battles in the long-term.
Outcome: HB 405 passed the House (50-19) and died in the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee.
Environmental Private Right Of Action more
Summary: HB 429 afforded landowners or other affected parties a private right of action to pursue enforcement of environmental laws against violators or agencies who are failing to enforce existing law. An example might be the case of a rural landowner whose groundwater is at risk of contamination by a polluting company; if the state refuses to require the company to stop polluting groundwater, the landowner would have recourse in court.
Outcome: HB 429 died on the House floor (30-36).
Preserve Prairie Chicken To Oppose Listing more
Summary: The federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides key protections for vulnerable, threatened, and endangered species, like the lesser prairie chicken. The Act also provides states with funding to assist with endangered species program implementation. While the goal of protecting the lesser prairie chicken without federal intervention is laudable, the language resolving opposition to federal listing of the species raises concerns. If the lesser prairie chicken is sufficiently protected through private and local actions, then the issue of federal listing becomes moot: no listing will be necessary. However, security of the species must be demonstrated first. Opposing federal listing before the species has adequate populations, habitat and protections to ensure long-term viability is woefully premature. Moreover, should resources be necessary to support regional and local protection efforts, that funding may best be secured through ESA listing.
Outcome: HM 21 passed the House (39-28). Memorials and resolutions do not require action by the Governor.
Change Board & Commission Sunset Dates more
Summary: SB 163 extends seven board and commission expiration or “sunset” dates, including the Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC). The WQCC is set to sunset on July 1, 2013. The WQCC is the only entity in New Mexico authorized to enact rules pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act or to set water quality standards. The Commission also approves variances for water quality regulations and hears appeals of water pollution permits.
Outcome: After a long and complicated fight in both chambers, efforts to sunset the WQCC in 2013 failed. If signed by the Governor, the WQCC’s expiration or “sunset” will be extended to 2019. SB 163 passed the Senate (42-0) and passed the House (63-4) and was signed by the Governor on April 4, 2013.
Adequate Subdivision Water Supplies more
Summary: SB 479 protects our limited water supplies from “double dipping”. Currently, large landowners and developers can sever water rights from a property and sell them off at high market values, while constructing major subdivisions that rely entirely on domestic wells for their water supplies. Because domestic wells don’t require a water right, it’s a legal ‘loophole’ that enables double-dipping.
Outcome: SB 479 passed the Senate (35-4) and passed the House (55-13) and was signed by the Governor on April 4, 2013.
Subdivision Water Permits more
Summary: SB 480 strengthens State Engineer evaluation of water availability for new subdivisions by reducing the assessment threshold from 20 parcels or more to 10 parcels or more, where any one of these parcels is less than 2 acres in size. At the same time, the bill makes subdivision water permits from the State Engineer mandatory, and prevents the State Engineer from basing a permit on water supply from domestic wells, which cumulatively may impair senior water rights holders.
Outcome: SB 480 passed the Senate (30-10) and passed the House (41-25) and was signed the Governor on April 5, 2013.