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Every year in the CVNM scorecard, we discuss the high and low points of the legislative session.  In 2011, it seemed as if every pro-conservation aspect of the session had a flip side, and vice-versa.  So instead of our traditional ‘Highlights & Lowlights’, we’re presenting ‘The Flip Side’ for those of you with the misfortune—or, on the flip side, the fortune!—of missing the 2011 legislative session.

On the good side…

Despite the contentious atmosphere in the legislature, 2011 saw the passage of a number of innovative bills that tackled serious environmental problems with practical, bipartisan solutions.  Whether promoting energy efficiency, improving cyclist safety, reducing mercury pollution or increasing transparency, these bills would make New Mexicans happier, healthier and better informed.

On the flip side…

Unfortunately, the bipartisanship that propelled these common-sense bills to the Governor’s desk could not save them.  Every single one of them was vetoed by Governor Martinez, with no explanation of how those decisions benefited (or failed to benefit) the public.

On the bad side…

Every year it seems that the attacks on our environmental safeguards increase in number, scope and intensity.

On the flip side…

We are proud to report our 7th consecutive year of 100% success in opposing anti-environmental legislation: all 65 bills we fought against were defeated in the legislature.

On the bad side…

Many conservation champions and allies—Representatives Jeff Steinborn, Nate Cote, Elias Barela, Benjamin Rodefer, Karen Giannini and Kathy McCoy, to name a few—left the legislature and weren’t around for 2011.  They were dearly missed.

On the flip side…

Several rookie legislators gratified us with efforts to reach out and collaborate with CVNM and our allies.  Representatives Yvette Herrell, Nate Gentry and David Chavez are just three examples of freshmen who demonstrated a willingness to collaborate and compromise.  Sadly, nothing can make up for the loss of our great champions, but these experiences were a bright spot nevertheless.

On the bad side…

Governor Martinez nominated Harrison Schmitt—well-known for his denial of human-caused climate change—as Secretary of Energy, Minerals & Natural Resources.  The position of cabinet secretary is wholly inappropriate for someone who ignores or discounts sound science.

On the flip side…

New Mexicans of all political stripes weighed in with their legislators and members of the Senate Rules Committee, and Schmitt’s nomination became one of the more contentious issues of the session.  After the Chair of Senate Rules Committee, Senator Linda Lopez, held firm on the common-sense procedures and vetting that nominees must undergo before their hearing, Schmitt balked and withdrew his nomination.  New Mexico is the better for it.

On the bad side…

In a late-session maneuver, the Governor’s office attempted to reauthorize, or shift, $5 million that had already been allocated to conservation and river restoration projects.  The language was inserted in a funding bill that emerged from the Senate during the last week of session.

On the flip side…

A dogged and diverse group of New Mexicans worked tirelessly with key legislators from both parties in an effort to protect the funding for these important projects—many of which were already underway.  Led by Representative Don Tripp and Chairman of House Appropriations & Finance Kiki Saavedra, the House of Representatives successfully restored the funding in a floor vote during the last night of session.

On a good note… (with no flip side)

Surprises abounded during the 2011 session.  One of the most pleasant was the emergence of unexpected allies in the Roundhouse.  Legislators who had previously demonstrated an ambivalence towards conservation efforts seemed to recognize the danger in the Governor’s and industry’s efforts to strip critical protections from vulnerable New Mexican families and communities.

Representative Debbie Rodella worked diligently to defend the state’s renewable energy requirement, and also tried to ensure that inactive oil and gas wells would not pose a threat to New Mexico’s groundwater.  Senator Mary Kay Papen was a key ally in the fight to restore $5 million of conservation and river restoration funding.

Among others, these legislators stepped up to the plate and fought back, and for that we are grateful.

The 2011 legislative session was filled with contrasts, and there was never a dull moment.  From beginning to end, those 60 days were incredibly challenging, but ultimately rewarding.  Although our Land of Enchantment emerged from the session relatively unscathed, the threats facing our communities are escalating—driven by industry-backed efforts to dismantle the common-sense safeguards that protect the health and safety of all New Mexicans.

So a long, tough session might be over, but we cannot rest.

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.

To find your House District number and Representative, visit our map here.

To find your Senate District number and Senator, visit our map here.

We take on tough fights to protect New Mexico, but these efforts in the State Capitol and around the state require financial resources. We can only win when we work together. Please join other New Mexicans in becoming a Conservation Voter today!

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