My name is Angelica Rubio, and I represent District 35–which includes the Alameda Depot and Mesquite Historic Districts, Downtown, Bellamah Neighborhood, and Chiva Town, in addition to the Country Club and Elks neighborhoods.
As some of you may know, prior to becoming elected to the New Mexico State Legislature, I was a community organizer, working on issues specific to workers justice, including managing the minimum wage campaign to raise the wage to $10.10 here in Las Cruces. With that said, the inequities that were unveiled to all of us throughout the COVID19 global pandemic, are the very inequities that some of us have been amplifying for years. So it was no surprise that this year, I would be working towards the purpose of making this session THE most transformative for many of our communities living in the margins.
First and foremost, since joining the legislature, I have been working to figure out how to diversify our economy here in New Mexico, especially when it comes to moving away from our dependence on oil and gas and other exploitative industries. This past year, I introduced legislation that would move New Mexico towards a greener and more sustainable economy through HB9, the Climate Solutions Act. This legislation also included language on climate resilience and strengthening carbon goals. Unfortunately, many of our legislators who are very loyal to the gas and oil industries, and/or fear the unknown of diversification, did not allow that bill to move forward, and the bill died without getting its second hearing. However, right before the deadline, I pulled the language from HB9 and introduced HB297, which was a stand-alone “just transition” bill. It made it all the way through the House of Representatives within just a few days and had a ton of traction and support. Unfortunately, due to the Senate’s backlog (due to the fact that they started their hearings almost two weeks into the session while the House started committees right away), the legislation stalled. Because of my strong relationship with the Senate Pro Tem, Mimi Stewart–who was carrying SB112, creating a Sustainable Economy Taskforce, we were able to incorporate the “just transition” language into her bill before the final days of the session and it made its way to the Governor, who signed it into law two weeks ago. This legislation is critical to New Mexico because it intertwines with the legislation we have passed in the past, and not only addresses climate but does so by centering frontline communities, especially Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, who are impacted by both extractive industries and our efforts to transition.
Other pieces of legislation I sponsored was the Housing Modernization legislation, which would have supported tenants and landlords across the state to help prevent families from losing their shelter due to COVID19. Unfortunately, it died in Senate Judiciary–chaired by Senator Joseph Cervantes–despite having the support and endorsement of the Landlord Association and many advocates from around the state. Over the course of the session, Rep. Andrea Romero and I worked diligently to improve the legislation as best we could to support all those involved, to address the inevitable housing crisis many in our community will experience for years to come. However, we will continue to try until we get something done.
HJR12, which would have sent a question to voters on whether the ethics commission should determine salaries for legislators (we are the only citizen legislature in the country) also died in Senate Judiciary. This legislation is part of a broader process to work to modernize our state legislature.
Paid Sick Leave, HB20–which started off as two separate pieces of legislation early on in the session (the other was HB37), was eventually merged. It also brought a number of people together to make it the ideal piece of legislation to support essential workers during this time and moving forward. The legislation made it through the House of Representatives, and then later assigned to two Senate committees, well underway to make it to the Senate floor for debate before the session ended. Unfortunately, the chair of Senate Judiciary called for the bill to go to their committee at the last minute, a third committee–a death sentence, in legislative terms. Fortunately, Rep. Christine Chandler and I gave one last fighting chance for the legislation, and despite some cruel and abusive behavior from members in that committee, we were able to get it through and on to the Senate floor, where it eventually passed, despite further misogyny that laid bare to the public.
As a member of the coalition of legislators that worked on broadband and connectivity, I focused on the equity framework of the legislation, and HB10 passed and was signed by the Governor. Healthy Food Financing bill, which would have provided a mechanism to access federal funding to support small farms across the state, especially Black, Indigenous and People of Color, died on the House floor because we ran out of time, despite being one of the most popular and bi-partisan pieces of legislation.
Finally, my commitment to end the private prison industry here in this state had some progress in this session. Legislators were allocated funds, and I used it, and with the support of other legislators, to pay for a task force this year that will be instructed to look at a transition away from the private prisons industry. If you’re interested in learning more, please let me know. This will be an incredible opportunity for organizing and making sure the right people, with the right intentions, are appointed.
Lastly, lastly–I was appointed to chair the Transportation, Public Works and Capital Improvements, which is a critical committee–as it finalizes the budget related to roads, maintenance, infrastructure, etc before it heads to the big budget bill. I am honored to serve in this capacity, one–as the sole legislator from southern New Mexico chairing a committee and representing our communities, and two–have the opportunity to set a tone to start looking at these issues well beyond just roads and personal vehicles and more towards public and equitable transit/transportation opportunities and having a greater say on infrastructure across that state, centered on ideas of connectivity, affordable housing, etc–especially related to climate threats.
Thank you all for your support the last few years. I ask and challenge you all that while there are a lot of issues facing us at the national level, that there are needs throughout our community and our state in which we must pay attention to. Black, Indigenous and People of Color and especially those living at the intersection of LGBTQ, are currently facing devastating injustices at the hands of an unjust system, both here in Las Cruces, but across the state. We must continue to address and dismantle a system built on white supremacy and not be afraid to be in solidarity with those in our communities who are just trying to live their lives. I urge you to stay vigilant and keep a close eye on our communities, and not fall to the fear mongering being amplified not only by our opposition, but even those who say they are our allies.