Local legislators update us about session and speak to some powerful current affairs
Every year, after the legislative session, we invite all our local legislators to come and tell us about their experiences. We were lucky to have eight legislators come this year and give us some insight about what happened during the 2018 30 day session. We thank them for coming! Here is some of what we gleaned from each of them:
Rep. Bill McCamley, District 33 – Bill explained that during the 30-day session, the legislature may only consider budget bills and what the governor wants to see. Because of this, the session was really slow. He introduced a bill to prohibit selling state land which would be used to build a border wall (click here to read more). He had a Joint Memorial regarding Net Neutrality, but time ran out. A memorial was passed to explore a Medicaid by-in program. They were able to get a bi-partisan crime bill, pass a budget, and an increase salaries for state employees. You can see all of Bill’s sponsored legislation here.
Rep. Angelica Rubio, District 35 – This was Angelica’s first 30-day session; she told us she learned a lot about the budget and capital outlay. She said people generally don’t know that certain mechanisms exist – and how they can participate. That’s why, Angelica announced, she’s running for re-election: because she is just getting started. “Nobody wants to talk about generational poverty. Our state depends so much on oil and gas and we need to diversify.” You can see all of Angelica’s sponsored legislation here.
Rep. Rudy Martinez, District 39 – Rudy thanked everyone from Doña Ana County who came up to Santa Fe. He was proud of the budget that was passed. Specifically, he was happy to report that K-12 teachers and higher education received increases. Teachers get a 2.5% raise and a $2,000 bonus for each level. Our reserve is now at 10% – $640 million. This will help our bond rating, explained Rudy. You can see all of Rudy’s sponsored legislation here.
Sen. Joseph Cervantes – District 31 – Joseph is aware that gun control is an important issue that legislators must deal with. He told us that in 2017 he put a bill on the Governor’s desk that said people who have restraining orders due to domestic violence would be prohibited from buying a gun in NM (here is the bill). The Governor vetoed that bill. As far as this year goes, he was happy to say the budget was created in an open process, not behind closed doors. They also opened the conference committees. He was the deciding vote on a bill to keep the San Juan coal plant open and he killed it (read more about that here). You can see all of Joseph’s sponsored legislation here.
Rep. Joanne Ferrary – District 37 – Joanne told us about some of the bills she worked on: HB 16 – 6,000 people signed a petition to decriminalize abortion at the state level, but the Governor didn’t put it on call for a vote. HB 64 would charge a fee to pet food manufacturers. The money helps to pay for low cost spaying and neutering of cats and dogs and establishes an income level for assistance – this bill is on the Governor’s desk to be signed. You can read more about the low cost spay/neuter bill here. The bill to use 1% of the permanent fund for Early Childhood Education did not get a floor vote. SB1- changes to the nurse licensure compact was signed by the Governor. Joanne also announced that a HM90 passed, which will create a Hunger Council. You can see all of Joanne’s sponsored legislation here.
Sen. Jeff Steinborn, District 36 – Jeff said that we built up our reserves and capital outlay. His bill to consolidate pharmaceutical purchases for the state did not move forward. After some drama, in which the Republicans actually walked off the Senate floor (they didn’t want the word “gun” used in a memorial about gun violence), a memorial to study gun violence and suicide by school age kids did pass. A memorial to look at using medical marijuana to treat opioid addiction is on the Governor’s desk (read more here). Jeff also worked hard on lobbyist disclosure and transparency. You can see all of Jeff’s sponsored legislation here.
Rep. Nathan Small, District 36 – Nathan said that we have a good budget which was done in an amicable way. He talked about a brine well near Carlsbad that is on the verge of a creating large sinkhole in the ground. The estimated cost to remediate this problem is $35 million with a $10 million local match. The good thing is that the state is on top of it, or it could be much worse. Oil and gas needs to have a $250,000 reclamation bond. You can read more about this issue here. Nathan was also pleased to pass a bill to protect our public water systems. You can see all of Nathan’s sponsored legislation here.
Sen. Mary Kay Papen, District 38 – Senator Papen sponsored a Crisis Triage center bill, and is waiting to see if it is signed or vetoed. She introduced a bill for special user fuel permits for truckers, to encourage them to come through Santa Teresa rather than El Paso. She continues to advocate for people dealing with mental health issues and said patients need to get due process. Finally, she complemented Sen. Joseph Cervantes, saying he ran the discussion on the PNM bill very well. You can see all of Mary Kay’s sponsored legislation here.
The floor was opened to questions. People were clearly concerned about safety in our schools. Other concerns were about how we can’t seem to pass Early Childhood Education because of one particularly stubborn legislator. Our legislators had passionate and solutions-oriented answers for these concerns. We thank them again for their participation.
You can be a star! Well, behind the scenes, at least!
The President of the NM Federation of Labor, Jon Hendry, announced that Las Cruces has its first film studio. It’s at the old Coca Cola bottling plant and it’s bringing lots of jobs. He also added that the Dona Ana County Commission is considering a so-called right to work resolution – so please fight against that. He said that “right to work” is really right-to-work-for-less. Check out the NM Federation of Labor website here.
For more information, email Jon.
Working at the Roundhouse
Connie Chapman was Senator Soules’ secretary during the last session. She said that the everyday staff is awesome and they do a great job. She was very impressed.
For more information, email Connie.
This is Norm Osborne – he’s running for Magistrate Judge, Division 4
Norm would appreciate if you would sign his nominating petition, so he can get on the ballot. He doesn’t think he has a primary opponent. He thanked everyone for their support.
For more information, email Norm.
Protest the Lion’s Club Gun Show
Tenya Price, on behalf of Jean Berlowitz, announced a protest against the gun show. She said, “It is unacceptable to us to hold a gun show during the funerals of murdered children in Parkland FL. It is unacceptable to us for the Sunrise Lions Club to raise funds in this manner. We believe in training for and licensing of all gun owners, as well as the requirement to carry insurance, the same requirements placed on all of us who wish to drive a car. Our kids are ashamed of us for our inability to get appropriate gun laws in this country, and rightly so. This is a chance for adults to speak up.”
Sunday 2/25, 1-3 pm
Las Cruces Convention Center
For more information, email Jean Berlowitz.
Here’s Rebecca Duffin – she’s running for Magistrate Judge, Division 3
Rebecca is asking for signatures on her petition, so she can get on the ballot. She said, “Two women judges are leaving, and it’s important to have a diverse bench.”
A young girl tells us about her very scary day at school (also, her mom is running for State Representative)
Micaela Lara Cadena is running for State Representative, District 33. She said, “In weeks like this, when children are afraid to go to school, we need to bring the smartest and most creative people together to come up solutions to our problems.” Micaela got a little choked up talking about how the most important part of her life is being a mom to two amazing daughters. With that, she handed the microphone to her young daughter, Aymara, who told us about how her school went on lockdown and she was scared. She said she hopes our schools became safer.
Safety is #1 concern for LCPS
Ed Frank, school board vice-president, said the school lockdowns happen because safety is the #1 concern for the district. He wanted to thank people for voting for the bond. Voter turnout was double previous years.
For more information, email Ed.
PRC report card
Steve Fischmann, who is running for PRC, District 5, explained that the PRC regulates utilities in the state. The agency looks at issues one at a time. A 2017 report by the National Regulatory Research Institute said of our current PRC:
- The PRC has a lack of open mindedness
- They did little research on major issues
- PRC unable to make decisions in regards to where the utility industry is now.
As a commissioner, Steve wants to look out for consumers and promote clean energy.
Speaking of the PRC
Rocky Bacchus said that our electricity bills should be 20% lower. He said our bills are not lower because the PRC is not doing their job; our fuel costs are high because the utilities obfuscated about $30 million a year and the PRC didn’t understand, so it didn’t look into it. Rocky enthusiastically endorses Steve Fischmann for PRC.
For more information, email Rocky.
Who knows the difference between magistrate court and district court? Richard Jacquez does!
Judge Richard Jacquez is currently a magistrate judge, but now he’s running for District Court, Division 8. He’s lived in Doña Ana County his entire life. He said a good judge will listen to the community.
For more information, email Richard.
“We rule the field!”
Xochitl Torres Small, who is running for Congress, was happy to say she collected 3 times the number of required signatures she needed to get on the ballot. She thanked everyone who helped with gathering signatures, because it’s the field work that wins elections and that was the start. She said she is in this race to bring opportunities to the people of CD2 – whereas the current congress is set on taking away healthcare, paying off corporations, and holding the dreamers hostage for the border wall. Xochitl said, “It’s important to win this seat in November – and we’re going to rule the field to win!”
Meet the new Director of Friends of the Organ Mountains
Patrick Nolan introduced himself as the new director of the Friends of the Organ Mountains. He said that we should be proud that our community came together to make the monument happen. If you have thoughts/ideas about the monument, he wants to hear from you.
A couple thoughts from Lucas
Lucas Herndon said that he is a gun owner as well as a progressive; he believes we need to have a conversation about why people are pushing back on proposed changes. Also, he hopes people will attend the next county commission meeting because they will discuss “Right to Work.” Additionally, there’s a dispute about who owns the land that the Equine Therapy Center uses. Finally, continue to hold John Vazquez accountable for his behavior.
County commission meeting
2/27, 9 am
County commission chambers
Retirement Income Security Task Force
Wacinque Amistad Kaizen BeMende said that 62% of New Mexico workers don’t have access to a retirement account at work – these are people who are working and have no retirement plan. At the March 6 Doña Ana county commission meeting, they will talk about the Retirement Task Force Group. He said his solution has been evaluated by economists, who found it sound.
For more information, email Wacinque.
Student safety and advocacy
School Board President Maria Flores thanked everyone for voting in the last school bond election, which passed in a landslide. Turnout was doubled. Read more here. She reiterated that student safety is the district’s number 1 concern. Finally, she has encouraged schools not to suspend any students if they participate in a walk out (in regards to the Florida school shootings).
For more information, email Maria.
Take the bus!
South Central Transit District director, David Armijo, said that they had 30,000 riders in 2017. They want to get additional funding for another bus to run between Las Cruces and Hatch. Of the 22 transit districts in the state, they rank 6th in cost efficiency.
For more information, visit the website.
Tell the City what you want
City Councilor Yvonne Flores announced that on August 28 there will be a GO bond election. Right now the city is having meetings to listen to the public about what is needed to improve the quality of life in Las Cruces. Attend the next community meeting.
Las Cruces Community Meeting
Tuesday 2/27, 6pm
DACC East Mesa campus, 2800 N Sonoma Ranch Blvd, Auditorium
Yvonne also said that it couldn’t go without saying that we all lost a good friend recently. Olga Pedroza personified the values we all hold, and we will miss her.
For more information, email Yvonne.
Great speaker at next Indivisible meeting
Linda Harris, who is the Chair of Indivisible Las Cruces, announced that Diana Tittle will be speaking at their next meeting. Tittle is described as, “a firebrand former journalist and leading voice for Sierra County Progressives.”
Indivisible Las Cruces Meeting
With Speaker, Diana Tittle, The Crucial Role of Dona Ana County in Taking CD2
March 13, 2018, 11am
Branigan Library, Las Cruces
Campaign managers and field coordinators, take note…
Dr. Karin Wiburg wants to get a good Democrat elected governor. She’s willing to help out! She is good at research and writing grants. Karin says she is worried about Steve Pearce and his dirty money; she is ready to work to defeat him.
For more information, email Karin.
Endorsement for Xochitl Torres Small
Merrie Lee Soules endorses Xochitl Torres Small for CD2. Merrie Lee said, “She’s the right person for the job.”
For more information, email Merrie Lee.
Support the Film Industry in LC
Jeff Steinborn is thrilled that a film studio just opened in Las Cruces. He asked people to attend the city council meeting to support the city’s film industry. “This industry will bring good union jobs to Las Cruces,” Jeff reminded us.
Date: Monday, 2/26
Place: City council chambers
For more information, email Jeff.
Meet and Greet for Shannon Reynolds
Christine Newtson announced a meet and greet for Shannon Reynolds, who is running for county commissioner, District 3.
Date: March 7, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Location: 3900 Canyon Ridge Arc, LC
For more information, email Christine.
Mexican Grey Wolves Update
Peter Ossorio said the 2017 count for the Mexican grey wolf is up 1. We need to improve the genetics of the population – they all come from the same small family; the issue is trying to get the United States Fish & Wildlife Services to follow the law. Peter said laws need to be reformed for non-game wildlife. Click here to learn more about Mexican Grey Wolves.
For more information, email Peter.
Angelica Rubio is running for re-election!
Angelica said that as a NM Representative, she is just getting started and she has much more to do. She hopes you will join her at a campaign kickoff celebration. Oh, and if you are a registered Democrat who lives in District 35, she would appreciate it if you would sign her nominating petition, too!
Angelica Rubio Campaign Kick-off
Saturday, March 3, 9am
$100 million saved thanks to EPE intervenors
Allen Downs said that Merrie Lee Soules, Steve Fischmann, One Hour Air Conditioning, the city of Las Cruces, Doña Ana County and himself have been very effective intervenors with El Paso Electric. Since April 2015, they have:
- Prevented $46 million dollars spent on an unneeded project at Ft Bliss
- $7.5 million per year in rate increases
- $100,000 a year that EPE wanted NM ratepayers to pay for a TX solar project
- $11 million per year for 2 years by delaying EPE’s 2017 rate case until 2019
Merrie Lee is leading the charge to require utilities to perform an economic evaluation and get approval before retiring a generator.
Allen also said, “If you can, volunteer and/or vote for Steve Fischmann for PRC.”
For more information, email Allen.
Volunteer, please, and bring a friend
Luis Guerrero is the CD2 Field Organizer for the New Mexico Democratic Party. He has been attending many pri-primary conventions and said they have been going well. He joked that at this point he has memorized most of the candidates’ stump speeches! The party is in need of volunteers for the upcoming primary and general election. In addition, Alamogordo and Lordsburg are having local elections, so you can help by making calls from home.
For more information, or to volunteer, email Luis.
Some difficult questions and some ideas to ponder
Guenevere McMahon, who is a candidate for State Representative, District 33, asked, “What were the warning signs of the recent school shooting in Florida? What could we have done?” Guenevere spoke about adverse childhood experiences and accumulated trauma. She knows firsthand the pain of losing loved ones in a traumatic way. However, she said, “If we invest in our kids, we can lower domestic violence.”
While you’re at it – here are some more things to ponder
Mary Martinez White, who is also a candidate for State Representative, District 33, said, “New Mexico has a lot of work to do. We’re suffering from the effect of poverty. We should invest part of the permanent fund in our children.” She also said we need to support small and medium sized businesses. Mary said she has 25 years in local, state and judiciary government; she invites people to take a look at her leadership successes.
Here’s Alex Rossario – he’s running for Magistrate Judge
Gian Alexander Rossario (he said we can call him Alex) is running for Magistrate Judge, Division 7. Alex would appreciate it if you would sign his nominating petition. He is currently a prosecutor in the DA’s office. He has been an immigration attorney. He would like to get a veteran’s court going.
Rich Renner of RESULTS said that our federal anti-poverty programs are under attack. SNAP and Medicaid have experienced cuts. 1 in 5 children nationally struggle with poverty and 1 in 4 children in New Mexico struggle with poverty and hunger. Let congress know these programs are essential. Write/email Senators Udall, Henrich and Representative Pearce strongly urging no cuts to federal anti-poverty programs.
For more information, email Rich.
Support our US Senators
Jean Ossorio said that Senators Udall and Heinrich have been very good for the environment, so we need to support them, especially since Sen. Heinrich is up for re-election this year. The Endangered Species Act is under attack by this administration. Letters to the Editors are always welcome. To learn more, go to www.mexicanwolves.org.
For more information, email Jean.
Joanne Ferrary is running for re-election!
Field Coordinator extraordinaire, Pat Aguirre, announced that she is organizing the final petition signature walk for Representative Joanne Ferrary. Come and help and have fun!
Volunteer for Joanne Ferrary
Saturday, 2/24, 10 am
Veteran’s Memorial Park on Roadrunner Parkway
Help get Billy Garrett on the ballot
Matt Gloudemans said that Billy Garrett is the only progressive in the Lt. Governor’s race. You can check out Billy’s website here. In order for Billy to get on the ballot in June, however, Matt needs volunteers to call delegates and ask them to vote for Billy at the state convention on March 10. Can you help?
Fundraiser for crime victims
Joanne Ferrary announced an event called Short Stacks for a Tall Cause, a fundraiser for crime victims:
Saturday, 2/24, 8-10am
Applebee’s, 2501 E Lohman
Also the kickoff for Crime Victim’s Rights Week
Saturday, April 7, 9 am – 1pm
For more information, email Joanne.
Antoinette Reyes for Doña Ana County Commission, District 1
Antoinette said that, if elected, she wants to represent the county on the Water, Natural Resources, Transit, Health and Human Services, Education, Economic Development and Public Infrastructure boards. She wants to get the mobile library running again, she supports buying local, and wants to fix our roads, and streetlights. Finally, poverty needs to be addressed, broadband must be accessible everywhere, green retrofits are best, and she’d introduce a homeless bill of rights.
What could be more exciting than property evaluations? Just kidding, Paul, we love your updates!
Deputy County Assessor, Paul Ponce, wanted to give us a general update from the County Assessor’s office. He noted that the 2018 property evaluations will be out by April 1. If you have a business and livestock, report it to the assessor’s office by the end of April. He is running for County Assessor and hopes to earn your support. Here is some more about Paul and his bid County Assessor.
For more information, email Paul.
Update from Senator Udall’s office
Greg Bloom is a representative from Senator Udall’s office. He said that Sen. Udall thinks the following: we need to end the sale of assault weapons to those under 21, people on the no fly list should not be able to buy guns, bump stocks should be illegal; he supported the Collins/McCain bill on the Dreamers; legislators need to listen to the community and vote accordingly on the Dreamer bills. Greg assured us that Sen. Udall supports the Organ Mountain Desert Peaks National Monument and Mexican gray wolves. And, fyi, the New Mexico Gas & Oil Association has targeted Sen. Udall.
For more information, email Greg.
Las Cruces 25% renewable energy by 2022
Brooke Beason, from Environment New Mexico, says that Albuquerque wants to be 25% renewable by 2025, but she thinks Las Cruces could do better – 25% by 2022. She wants to get this initiative on the city council meeting agenda either 3/19 or 4/5. She needs volunteers to write Letters to the Editor and gather more petitions for the city of Las Cruces. Let her know if you can help.
For more information, email Brooke.
Is Trump as bad as we think? No. He’s worse.
Alice Anderson wanted to second Yvonne’s sentiment about Olga Pedroza – Olga will be missed.
Alice read and recommends: “It’s Even Worse than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America” by journalist David Cay Johnston. It’s interesting, and scary, and Alice admitted you won’t feel good after finishing it. Check it out from the Branigan Library.
For more information, email Alice.
Eddie Lerma running for County Sheriff
Eddie told us he has 44 years of experience in law enforcement. He was the undersheriff under 4 different sheriffs. As Sheriff, he wants to provide a professional working environment to the sheriff’s department and restore executive leadership; he wants to mend working relationships in the county, but especially law enforcement. He said we need to put unarmed security in schools.
For more information, email Eddie.
One additional note:
Many have asked about making contributions to organizations in memory of our dear friend and former city councilor Olga Pedroza. The family recommends:
- La Semilla Food Center
c/o Krysten Aguilar
P.O. Box 2579
Anthony, NM 88021
- Border Agricultural Workers Project
c/o Carlos Marentes
201 E. 9th Ave.
El Paso, Texas 79901
Our next meeting will be Thursday, March 22, 2018, 7 p.m., at Munson Center.