Effective government (or “good governance”) 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.
Effective government requires access to good, unbiased information on which to base policies and statutes, and adequate funding to implement them. 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 an environmental perspective, the question is: How well does a government address the public costs of private activities — for example, the waste or emissions produced by certain industries? Costs of enforcement, cleanup and disposal — as well as losses suffered from health impacts and withdrawal of lands and waters from alternative economic uses — are mostly borne by the public because leasing fees, royalties, cleanup bonds, permit violation penalties, and other measures are almost always far below the true cost of regulating and remediating an industrial activity.
Ugly partisan struggles have occasionally dominated decisions about adequately funding the state budget and environmental rulemaking, leaving unfunded mandates for agencies and underfunded public services, and leaving many New Mexicans disillusioned about the political process and the possibility of meaningful improvement in their lives.
Moving forward, state leadership can center New Mexicans in the decision-making process by creating a culture of transparency, and addressing obstacles to full public participation in the policy process, such as language barriers, technology and access, and more.
Related Votes for Effective Government
- Air Quality
- Energy &
- Wildlife & Habitat
Private Right of Action for Certain Statutes more
Summary: HB 50 enabled private parties to file civil lawsuits for violations of environmental statutes.
Outcome: HB 50 passed out of committee but died on the House calendar.
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.
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.
Linda M. Lopez
Nathan P. Small
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.
Narrow Landowner Animal Takings more
Summary: SB 419 would have narrowed the conditions for landowners taking or killing animals on private lands causing livestock or crop depredation, and requires state agencies to offer additional interventions.
Outcome: SB 419 passed the Senate Conservation Committee, but died in the Senate Finance Committee.
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 former 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!
Many city and county governments, large and small, across the state, still act outside the requirements – in letter or spirit – of the state’s Open Meetings Act, even though local actions are often what most impact people’s daily lives. It is still too often the case that meetings are not properly noticed, and agendas and meeting minutes provide almost no information about what is discussed. Boards and commissions are often packed with people whose interests are frequently decided by those public bodies, and deals are made among board and commission members or between local officials and interested parties behind closed doors. It is an intractable and serious problem.
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.