A recap of the Legislative Response Team
Thank you to everyone who participated in the Legislative Response Team (we have 224 people on our list). Just so you know, we sent you 21 emails, asking you to contact legislators about numerous issues. There were a lot of progressive successes this session. Thank you!
For more information, contact Cheryl.
Public Bank for New Mexico Campaign Continues
The Alliance for Local Economic Prosperity is happy to report that the Public Banking Act Bill HB236 went further in the 2021 legislative session than many public banking bills introduced in other states. The bill exposed more people this year to the idea of a public bank. A public bank could substantially impact many of the areas considered legislative priorities in New Mexico; AFLEP will now continue to share that message with more lawmakers this summer and fall.
AFLEP appreciates the support the campaign has received. “We know that big ideas often take several attempts to succeed at the state level and look forward to continuing to inform New Mexicans and legislators of the benefits of a public bank for New Mexico in the coming year. Next year’s legislative session begins January 14, and we will be ready.”
For more information about a Public Bank for New Mexico and how it can benefit all New Mexicans, visit www.AFLEP.org.
Allowing Localities an Opt-out Provision Regarding Cannabis Sales Promotes the Black Market
Bill Corbett and Karen Shaefer note that since our state legislature will take up the issue of recreational cannabis in a special session, legislators should consider that allowing localities to choose to prohibit businesses that sell recreational cannabis, as some have discussed, is counterproductive and bad public policy.
One of the reasons to legalize cannabis is to tamp down its illegal production and sale in the black market. Cannabis on the black market is untaxed and will always be cheaper for consumers to purchase than legal, regulated cannabis.
Allowing localities the option of prohibiting the legal sale of cannabis would promote black market sales. Not only would cannabis on the black market be cheaper but it usually would be easier and more convenient to obtain. In addition, the contents would be unregulated and there would be a loss of government revenue on each illegal sale.
Localities do have control regarding the cannabis businesses, as with all businesses, through common-sense zoning regulations. Out-and-out prohibition of these businesses would prove counterproductive. Bill and Karen urge us to contact our legislators on this issue.
For more information email Bill.
Questioning the Governor’s request for oil and gas exemption for New Mexico
Saraswati Khalsa of New Energy Economy raises the point that, having finally elected a President who appreciates the urgency of climate change crisis, our own Governor does not appear to understand the science and continues to bow to industry pressure by endorsing an “all of the above” energy strategy that brings us nowhere near the IPCC’s recommended 50% emissions reduction by 2030.
The Biden administration called for a common sense pause on leasing for oil and gas drilling on public lands in order to take time to develop a sustainable land use policy, but Governor Lujan Grisham has requested an exemption for New Mexico. As the third most productive oil and gas drilling state, the pause means little if that exemption is granted.
New Mexicans are already suffering the health impacts, extreme drought and increased wildfires and heat waves that climate change promises. Our health is more important than fossil fuel revenues, and we know that alternative revenue sources from the federal government to supplement state and local taxes impacted by the pause could be pursued. Instead of listening to fossil fuel executives whining about the pause (when in fact they hold enough undeveloped leases to keep drilling for years to come) we want our government to prioritize our land, air, water and health. Saraswati asks that we join others in calling on the Governor and our Senators to withdraw the requested exemption and prioritize our children over oil and gas profits.
Saraswati asks you to sign the petition yourself and forward it to 10 of your friends, asking them to do the same. For more information call Saraswati at 505-989-7262.
Gracias to Senator Soules
Elisa Sanchez extends gracias to Senator Soules for his work on the Predatory Loan bill. We need to support him in asking the Governor to put it on the agenda for the Special Session she is considering. Elisa finds it disgusting that legislators continue to support those making an outrageous profit off the backs of the low-income people in this state.
For more information, contact Elisa.
Update on Reimbursement to Telshor Fund & planning for 2021 migration influx
Mark Cobb would like to report that his contact at the City of Las Cruces budget office has verified that almost all of the over $5 million expended in 2019 has been reimbursed to the city except for $75K from one organization and approximately $16K from various City Works projects. However, no guidance was provided as to what appropriations are in play for this year’s influx of migrants. “Perhaps that is a work-in-progress plan of another city department that can be addressed when appropriate, and/or if needed since that is primarily the responsibility of the federal government—but we all know how that can or cannot work out, I believe!”
For more information, contact Mark.
A note from Pat, with thanks
Pat Aguirre says, “Hello everyone. We are still in a pandemic and unfortunately we once again face horrific issues in dealing with recent shootings (and we all know what part of the solution could be). However, I would like to focus my thanks to those who have acted on our behalf at the New Mexico legislature this session.
I am so grateful to the courageous individuals who have run for office, been elected, and are working on our behalf. Of course, I am thankful for Representative Joanne Ferrary who has participated this year in what appears to be a very productive session. Her success was supported by donations, those who worked on mailings, calling thousands of people during the pandemic and campaign, and a good team effort. Joanne stayed the course and has been successful. I am proud to be part of Joanne’s life (and Rich’s life, too). They are such good people and good friends.
There are so many amazing legislators from Doña Ana County. Although we are a poor community, we are rich in the people who have chosen to represent us. I am also thankful for our Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham. She stood her ground although she was criticized and maligned. She is courageous.
I am also thankful for the leadership of Mona Trempe, Democratic Chair of Doña Ana County. Taking on an organization like this is difficult. Mona always remained civil and consistent. I have a great deal of respect for her. In addition, I am thankful for Jan Hertzch, District 37 (Ward 4) Director. It is a position where you are constantly spinning your wheels and hoping to get somewhere. Jan always managed to stay on track.
If you have not received your viral vaccine, please do so. Let’s create a healthy community. Please take care.
What are you thankful for?”
For more information, contact Pat.
Children do not have to live in poverty
Rich Renner reports that the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) are financial lifelines for families working in low-wage jobs. Together, they lifted 7.5 million Americans above the poverty line in 2019. Unfortunately, an estimated 27 million children in low-income families do not receive the full CTC because their parents’ earnings are too low.
In the last COVID-19 Relief Bill changes were made to these 2 essential programs, but they are only temporary. Congress must make the new expansions of the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit permanent. This alone would reduce the number of children living below the federal poverty line by almost half, and especially would impact children of color. Note that in New Mexico this would affect 450,000 children!
Rich asks us to call or email Senators Heinrich and Lujan, and Congresswoman Herrell and urge them to tell congressional leaders to support a permanent expansion of the EITC and CTC for low-income workers and families in upcoming tax or economic recovery legislation.
Senator Heinrich 202-224-5521
Senator Lujan 202-224-6621
Representative Herrell 202-225-2365
For more information, visit the RESULTS website or contact Rich at 360-698-4786.
Here is an update on El Paso Electric (EPE):
Allen Downs reports that there are several ongoing regulatory actions involving EPE. EPE has:
- Started the process of developing a 2021 Integrated Resource Plan.
- Filed a Transportation Electrification Plan.
- Requested permission to abandon their oldest power plant.
- Requested rate increases. We are awaiting a decision in this rate case.
But most recently EPE has asked to collect, from New Mexico rate payers, more than $5 million for fuel that El Paso Electric didn’t actually buy. They report using $1.2 million of nuclear fuel in the Palo Verde 3 nuclear power plant to generate energy for New Mexico, but are asking New Mexico rate payers to pay $6.8 million which they claim would be the cost of generating that power using gas. The high gas prices between 11 and 22 February were due to a gas shortage caused by the February cold spell.
The City of Las Cruces has responded saying that EPE, “is engaging in profiteering and price gouging” by requesting $6.8 million in charges, “to compensate itself for the use of Palo Verde Unit 3.” The City has asked the Public Regulation Commission to hold a hearing to determine the correct amount of incremental gas costs to be charged to New Mexico due to the cold spell. The outcome of this case could have as much effect on our rates as the outcome of the rate case. It is good to know that the City is working hard on our behalf.
While plans are still evolving, EPE is considering buying more gas fired power plants over the next decade with the idea that they can be converted to hydrogen, a carbon-free fuel, in the future. Please join me in Merrie Lee’s battle cry – NO NEW FOSSIL FUEL GENERATION!
For more information, email Allen.
Casa de Peregrinos update
Eric Walkinshaw says, “First of all I would like to thank all that have donated to the Casa de Peregrinos food pantry serving Doña Ana County and also for those who contacted their legislative representatives requesting support for our proposed new facility via the state’s Construction Initiative Project call.
Although we requested $2.6M to meet the estimate provided by the design team, the legislators supported us for $1.8M. To meet this gap we have started a funding campaign. By going to our website @ casadeperegrinos.org you will find information regarding the proposed new facility as well as a form should you wish to donate on a one time, monthly, or quarterly basis.
Thank you so much in advance for supporting this important project that will significantly increase our ability to serve more of our underserved neighbors in Doña Ana County.”
For more information, contact Eric.
A successful session for Rep. Joanne Ferrary
Rep. Ferrary is currently serving her 3rd term as representative. She reports that this was the most critical session that she has been a part of, and her top priority was to give you the representation that you deserve. She says, “I worked across the aisle to help provide assistance to those who need it most.”
“COVID RELIEF PACKAGE: A bi-partisan package of legislation has already been signed by the Governor that will provide immediate relief to individuals and businesses. Senate Bill 1 provides tax breaks to working families while Senate Bill 3 allows for $200 million in grants and provides for zero-to-no interest loans for small businesses.
Investing In Education: As you may know, I have long been a supporter of investments in Early Childhood Education programs. This year, we passed historic legislation (House Joint Resolution 1) that will allow voters to decide if we should invest up to 1.25% of the Land Grant Permanent Fund on programs that will set a foundation for lifelong learning, health benefits, and social and emotional development and truly give our children a cradle-to-career pathway. We also voted to raise teacher pay by 1.5% and increased retirement contributions by up to 5.5% for educators.
Diversifying Our Economy: I supported and worked on legislation that will lead us into a new and diverse economy that will benefit all New Mexicans. I co-sponsored the house version Community Solar Act, which will meet the State’s clean energy needs and provide an important revenue stream for public schools, universities, and hospitals. We also voted to legalize recreational cannabis, which will create new streams of revenue while helping to eliminate the illicit market. The bill did not pass the Senate, however this legislation is expected to be considered in an upcoming special session.
Furthermore, I was proud to be a sponsor for the following priorities of legislation:
➢ SB 10: Repeal of the antiquated abortion law; which keeps that decision between a woman and their healthcare provider without government interference. The Governor has already signed SB 10 into law.
➢ HB 234: Strengthen Guardianship Provider Oversight; which creates new oversight over professional guardians and conservators, provides increased resources to the office of
guardianship and expands oversight, and introduces a pilot guardianship monitoring program. This was passed by both chambers and is on its way to the Governor.
➢ HB 207: Food Hunger & Farm Act; Funded a council under Human Services Department to continue networking and data collection on solving food insecurity in New Mexico.
Finally, Breaking News: the Governor is going to announce a Special Session to be held starting Tuesday, March 30th at noon. Only expected to be a few days at most.
For more information, contact Rep. Ferrary.
Thanks to Neomi Martinez-Parra
Joyce Westerbur wanted to express her appreciation for Neomi M-P. She says, “If it were not for her defeating John Arthur Smith (“Dr. No”) in the Primary, he would have certainly blocked any of the progressive legislation he could have, and that passed in the recent session. So on behalf of New Mexicans and progressives especially, mil gracias Neomi, for your gutsy campaign.”
For more information, contact Joyce.
One year of (low-tech) virtual PVA!
Cheryl Frank remembers March of 2020, the first month we had to cancel our monthly face-to-face PVA meeting due to COVID. The same for the next month and the next month, etc. It’s been a whole year. Thankfully, Don Kurtz suggested we continue putting out the recap, by gathering input via email. Won’t you please think about something you can submit for next month? We want to hear from you! And fingers crossed we will be able to see each other again soon!
For more information, contact Cheryl.