January 28, 2021 – Virtual PVA

January Unified Action

The Legislative Response Team weighs in on critical issues under consideration during the legislative session in Santa Fe. Team members call or email legislators and make their positions known.

Past issues have included minimum wage, early childhood education, the environment, energy policy, voting rights, foreclosure procedures, and DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act).

The legislators notice and pay attention when they are hearing from their constituents.

Becoming a part of the Legislative Response Team means that you will receive an email when a bill is at a critical phase. The email will be simple: it will let you know the issue, which legislator to contact, the telephone number and email for that legislator, and whether you are recommending a Yes or No vote on that issue.

Add your voice to the Legislative Response Team by:
sending an email to
legislativeactionNM@gmail.com

When you have done the Action, please tell us, “I did it!

Retake Our Democracy 

Retake Our Democracy is a primary coordinator of progressive advocacy at the legislative session, through Action Alerts and direct communication with New Mexico senators in support of a wide-ranging legislative agenda.  

Here’s how you can participate:

This is a great, well-organized effort which will make a big difference in this year’s session.

Benefits of legalizing recreational cannabis

William Corbett noted that criminal organizations currently control the recreational black market in New Mexico, including the profits from this trade; in addition, there is no quality control or regulation as the cannabis provided to recreational users. As is generally known, violence is part and parcel of this illegal trade. 

He gives several excellent reasons why recreational cannabis should be legalized by the New Mexico Legislature this session, which are detailed here.  

For more information, contact William.

KTAL presents iconic Martin Luther King speech

KTAL Program Manager Linda Hall told us that KTAL recently broadcast a speech that Dr. King gave in 1961 at the Temple Emanuel synagogue in Worcester, Mass, which was preserved in a cassette recording that was forgotten for many years and rediscovered in Las Cruces, remastered in 2017, and made available to KTAL for broadcast.

The speech was broadcast for the second year in a row on January 18, Martin Luther King Day, and can be heard on the KTAL webpage.

For more information, contact Linda.

A book recommendation for the new year

Jim R. Moore recommends Pete Buttigieg’s book Trust, in which our new Secretary of Transportation demonstrates how a breakdown of trust is central to our nation’s current predicament–and how our future depends on finding ways to instill confidence in the American Project, and in each other. 

Jim also enjoyed Pete’s Shortest Way Home, which is more of a biography of Pete’s young life, including his years as Mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

Both are available from Branigan Library.

For more information, contact Jim.

Restore PRC authority over investor-owned utilities

Saraswati Kaur Khalsa of New Energy Economy filled us in about the Energy Transition Act (ETA) Amendments sponsored by Senators Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, William Tallman, Elizabeth Stefanics and Bill Soules. The bill is an important fix to clarify language in the ETA that raises concerns about potential significant financial impacts on New Mexico ratepayers. It would restore New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) authority over investor-owned public utilities to review cost demands regarding plant abandonment to protect ratepayers from unnecessary costs. 

According to their own documents, PNM alone will seek more than $1.2 billion dollars – which will mean a 10% increase on the average ratepayers’ bill, every month, for 25 years. NEE thinks the regulatory body should decide on these rate increases on a case by case basis, depending on the facts. The Amendments bill supports securitization, the renewable portfolio standard, and transition funds while clarifying language to ensure ratepayers are protected when plants are abandoned. 

For more information contact Saraswati by email or at 505-989-7262

Higher El Paso Electric charges questioned

Mark Cobb recently forwarded a copy of his latest electric bill to PRC Commissioner Steve Fischmannm along with the prior month’s and prior year’s same month billing. What Mark pointed out to Steve was a huge increase in the Fuel and Purchased Power Cost Adjustment in the latest bill, an increase that will be especially hard on the 40,000 customers facing termination of their service unless they come to a payment agreement with EPE.  Steve responded that the PRC is seeking an audit on this charge, something that hasn’t been done in 10 years.  Mark is appreciative of this, noting that even if the audit verifies the expense the fuel cost should be spread out over time to help families struggling to make ends meet.  

For more information, contact Mark.

Retake Our Democracy at work in Senate District 37

Bob Libby reports that Retake Our Democracy advocates organized a Zoom conversation with Senator Bill Soules in District 37, where Bill expressed his support for many of Retake’s legislative priorities, including abortion decriminalization. the Health Security Act, a Public Bank for NM, The Green Amendment, tapping the Permanent Fund for Early Childhood Education, and several others. Bob and his fellow advocates are planning a followup conversation with Bill during the session. A similar conversation was held with Jeff Steinborn and Retake advocates from his district. You can sign up to be included in these conversations by going here on the Retake our Democracy website.  

For more information, contact Bob.

Equitable Educational System

Elisa Sánchez advocates for an equitable education for NM students, saying, “Since 1848 when Mexico lost the Mexican American war and the U.S. occupied most of the southwest, the educational system erased Mexicans and Native people from the curriculum.  It is time for us to change that.  We need a multicultural/multilingual system that represents, values and honors all people in New Mexico.  Please tell your Senator and Representative to make a difference for our people and our state NOW.”

For more information, contact Elisa.

Support for SB55

Catharine Walkinshaw encourages people to show their support for Senate Bill 55 pre-filed by Senator Bill Soules. This Bill would require the social, racial, and cultural impacts of any proposed legislation be analyzed by the Cultural Affairs Department. This is a good first step, she says, in reducing racial, social, and cultural inequities in NM.

For more information, contact Catherine.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense

Rita Triviz shared that NM’s Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense Advocacy Week will be February 1-5 and is all virtual! The Kick-Off Event is Monday, February 1st at 6:00 PM, via Zoom. At the kick-off, they’ll discuss the bills and discuss logistics for this session. When you RSVP at the link below, they’ll invite you to the kick-off and the Zoom meetings (February 2-5), where you can talk with your state legislators as part of an advocate team. Legislator meetings will largely happen between 9am and 5pm. Rita explained that you can simply plan to appear for the ones on your team list that work well for your schedule.

RSVP link: https://act.everytown.org/event/moms-demand-action-event/39720/signup

For more information, contact Rita.

Virtual Forum on Spent Nuclear Fuel and Proposed Dumps

A virtual forum will discuss spent nuclear fuel, the proposed Holtec dump in southeast New Mexico, and the proposed WCS dump in Northwest Texas on Friday, February 5, 2021, 9-11:30 a.m. MST. Environmental attorney Lynn Moorer will host. Questions from members of the public will be answered by a distinguished panel of experts. Register to participate via Zoom by emailing Lynn

Any remedy for behavior of new Congresswoman in CD2?

Don Apodaca wonders if there is any support for a petition calling for the recall of U. S. Representative Herrell regarding her vote to overturn the electoral college vote in Pennsylvania and Arizona? 

This vote took place after the assault on the capitol and in spite of the obvious implications on our democracy. The exact nature and wording of such a petition would require input from individuals experienced in such matters, and the organization of an extensive campaign as well as appropriate funding sources would need to be addressed. Sponsoring organizations and volunteers are necessary. 

Please address your opinions and concerns to all appropriate individuals and organizations as well as to Don

Casa de Peregrinos food pantry update

Eric Walkinshaw, Casa de Peregrinos Board President, reports that during an unprecedented and tumultuous 2020 Casa distributed a record 4.6 million pounds of food to their clients in Doña Ana County. He says that Casa de Peregrinos is grateful for the generous donations received from many PVA members as well as from other civic groups, churches, private citizens, businesses, and local/state governments. 

Now a new challenge awaits CdP – funding the remodel and renovation of the Horse N Hound building on Amador that was graciously purchased by the CIty of Las Cruces for use as a food pantry, warehouse, and distribution center that will greatly increase Casa’s capacity to serve the people of Dona Ana County. While the state has allocated some funding for the project, private funds are needed to complete this effort.
If you would like to contribute to either Casa’s Operational Funds or this Building Fund, you can send a check to Casa de Peregrinos, 999 W. Amador Ave. Ste. F  Las Cruces, NM 88005 with note as to which fund it is to be earmarked. You can also donate via PayPal on the Casa de Peregrinos website.  For more information email Eric or call him at 575-932-8524.

Legislative highlights from Rep. Ferrary

Rep. Joanne Ferrary provided key highlights from the session so far. Two pieces of legislation, in particular, are HB7 – Repeal Abortion Ban, and SJR3 – Green Amendment, which provides an amendment to the New Mexico Constitution that provides the people of the State with environmental rights, including the right to a clean and healthy environment and the right to the preservation of the environment. “There will be more to come!” Joanne assures us, continuing, “As we move through this session, I would like your questions and comments on legislation that you support or oppose. Please feel free to contact me at 575-649-1231 or email me directly at joanne.ferrary@nmlegis.gov.”

For more information, contact Joanne.

Do you know about DACU?

The vision of Doña Ana Communities United is: We aspire to a vibrant Doña Ana County where all human beings are valued and everyone works together as equals to realize our full potential for individual and collective wellbeing. 

Want to get involved? They have virtual events every week. 

For more information, visit their website.

Building our Democratic community by becoming active in DPDAC

DPDAC Chair, Mona Trempe says that as we look forward to the 2022 elections (yes, already!), it is essential that we build our Democratic community so that we can take back the CD-2 US House seat and continue our strong voice in regional and State offices. A good way to do so is for ALL of us to become active within DPDAC. 

In March DPDAC will hold party elections for:

  • Precinct Leaders: 170 each of Chairs, Vice Chairs, Secretaries, and Treasurers 
  • Ward Leaders: 5 each of Chairs, Vice Chairs, Secretaries, and Treasurers
  • County Leaders: Chair and 2 Vice Chairs
  • County Party Committee Members: 5 each for the County Credentials and Rules Revision Committee and the Platform and Resolutions Committee
  • County Party Governance:  579 County Central Committee Members
  • State Party Governance: 42 State Central Committee Members

There are also several County Officer positions that will be filled by appointment: Secretary, Treasurer, Parliamentarian, and Communications Director. Additional essential roles include Volunteer Coordinator, the Data Team, Special Events planners, etc.

Surely, there is a role for YOU in this list of more than 1150 leadership positions! And, most of us know friends or relatives who would be GREAT leaders but might need a little nudge to become more active. 

The entire 2021 Spring election process will be virtual due to the ongoing pandemic. The forms to use to declare your candidacy and/or to sign up to participate as an elector (voter), information about the precinct, ward, and county central committee meetings, and how to vote will be available early in February on the DPDAC website.

Global Pandemic Requires a Global Response

The US needs a strong bipartisan COVID relief bill that includes $30 billion in emergency rental assistance, plus $28 billion for Housing Choice Vouchers. Why?

  • Congress passed $25 billion in emergency rental assistance in a bipartisan package last month, but conservative economist Mark Zandi estimates that renters may owe $70 billion in back rent and fees as of Jan 2021
  • President Biden’s COVID “rescue” plan includes an additional $30 billion in emergency rental and utility assistance. Yet, researchers at the National Low-Income Housing Coalition estimate that another $28 billion for Housing Choice Vouchers is also needed to keep renters most at risk of eviction stably housed during the crisis.

Global COVID Request:  we need a strong COVID relief bill that includes at least $20 billion for international development assistance with $4 billion of that going to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria and $2 billion going toward emergency food assistance and malnutrition. Why?

  • Because of COVID, the number of people suffering from severe hunger doubled in 2020 to 265 million, and millions more children are experiencing acute malnutrition.
  • As resources to address AIDS, TB, and Malaria have been diverted and healthcare services have been interrupted due to COVID, the number of disease cases and deaths has risen dramatically, setting back progress 10-15 years.  The global community can not allow the hard won progress in these diseases to be reversed.
  • Besides the compelling humanitarian reasons for such assistance, read this NY Times piece on the vaccines and the economy to see COVID’s impact on other countries’ economies, and our economy, if we do not assist other countries.

ACTION – call Senators Heinrich (202-224-5521) and Lujan (202-224-6621), and Rep Herrell (202-225-2365) and urge them to support the above funding in the next COVID relief bill.

Additional information – Rich Renner, Las Cruces RESULTS, at rjrenner50@gmail.com or 360-698-4786, or www.results.org.

PVA happens again
(The recap will arrive in your inbox)
Thursday, February 25, 2021, 7pm