Effective government (or “good government”) refers to the way in which elected officials exercise their political authority to serve their constituencies. Good governance, with respect to the environment, requires that decisions are made and implemented using legitimate (legal), transparent, participatory, responsive and equitable processes to achieve effective policies that protect New Mexico’s communities and natural resources.
A common-sense, balanced tax policy is a strong indicator of effective governance. Tax policy is a reasonably accurate representation of a government’s priorities: Who is paying their fair share? Which government “favorites” are getting huge tax credits, deductions and exemptions, and who is paying the price for them? From a specifically environmental perspective, how well does a state’s tax policy address the public costs of certain activities — for example, the waste or emissions produced by certain industries? Costs of enforcement, cleanup and disposal — as well as losses suffered from permanent extraction or contamination — are mostly borne by the public; tax policy is an effective tool the government can use to remedy that inequity.
In part because of the ugly, partisan struggles that have dominated New Mexico politics for the past several years, over everything from the state budget to environmental rulemaking, many New Mexicans lost faith in our elected representatives under the previous administration. Newly-elected Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has committed to bringing New Mexicans voices back into our decision-making process.The administration can realize this by creating a culture of transparency and engagement in her administration.
Related Votes for Effective Government
- Air Quality
- Energy &
- Wildlife & Habitat
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.
Nathan P. Small
Linda M. Trujillo
Energy Operating Bonding Amounts more
Summary: HM 29 would have supported future policy and required energy producers to post adequate surety bonds for cleanup from their operations.
Outcome: HM 29 passed out of committee but died on the House calendar.
Radioactive Waste Consultation Task Force more
Summary: SB 95 would have made sure that private nuclear waste facilities, such as the one proposed for Lea & Eddy counties, were reviewed by the state in the same manner as federal facilities. It added a level of safeguards for high-level nuclear waste storage.
Outcome: SB 95 passed out of committee but failed to pass the Senate 15-25.
Know the Score > Take Action
Strategies for Effective Government
Actions that foster effective government:
It’s difficult to achieve good government without transparency. Fortunately, after a few fits and starts, the legislature passed a measure sponsored by Sen. Sander Rue which created the “Sunshine Portal.” The portal provides public access to important information about New Mexico state government, including spending, budgets, revenues, employees, contracts and more. You can access the Sunshine Portal from this link.
Actions that fail to foster effective government:
No thank you!
In several cases, the Martinez administration has dismantled, or attempted to dismantle, rules already on the books in New Mexico.
- Initially, the administration unlawfully refused to publish the duly-adopted rules on energy efficiency, water quality and carbon pollution. After the New Mexico Supreme Court forced Martinez’s agencies to follow the law in those cases, her appointed boards and commissions sought to reverse prior decisions with the absolute minimum of public input and consideration.
- The New Mexico Game Commission repealed a ban on trapping in the Gila National Forest, further threatening the endangered Mexican gray wolf and other wildlife.
- The Construction Industries Commission (CIC) reversed a common-sense energy conservation code designed to save New Mexicans money on their utility bills. You can find an excellent description of how two rulemakings on the same issue can be starkly different with respect to transparency here.
- The Oil Conservation Commission (OCC) recently reversed the “pit rules,” which govern the disposal of toxic wastes from oil and gas drilling. Despite more than 400 cases of groundwater contamination before the rule, and exactly zero cases of groundwater contamination since the rule went into effect, the commission opted to side with big oil companies instead of landowners and New Mexicans desperately trying to protect precious water resources.
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.