February 2021 – Virtual PVA

PVA’s February Unified Action

It’s not too late to join the Legislative Response Team. After all, the legislative home stretch is coming up! 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!

New Mexico Voices for Children talks priorities

Sharon Kayne, Communications Director with New Mexico Voices for Children, shared that their policy agenda (which you can read here) for the legislative session has been somewhat modified to address some of the needs New Mexico families have as a result of the current pandemic and recession. Access to health care and food are at the top of that list of needs, along with expanded child care assistance and paid sick leave for all workers. NM Voices also continues to advocate for the expansion of early childhood care and education programs using 1% of the state’s $22 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund. As the state’s tax system is unfair, does not raise adequate revenue, and is too reliant on the boom-or-bust oil and gas industry, NM Voices is also advocating for income tax increases for corporations and individuals earning the highest incomes, as well as expanding two tax credits that are targeted to New Mexicans earning low incomes. Read more about these policies and download fact sheets on several of them on NM Voices’ Legislative Policy Priorities webpage.

For more information, contact Sharon.

Restoration of Voting Rights to People Released from Prison

Joe Gallant, from America Votes advocates for HB 74, currently going through the legislative process. The bill would make the eligibility standard for being able to vote much clearer: If a person has completed their prison sentence, they are eligible to vote. Civic engagement is a key part of the rehabilitation process for many former prisoners. That process we have now has been in place for 20 years and has been a failure to many New Mexicans. The secretary of state testified that their office believes eligible voters have been disenfranchised by not being aware of the law or by administrative error at a county clerk’s office. A 2 minute twitter video from an expert witness can be found here, a 1 pager of talking points can be found here

For more information, contact Joe.

Support for Local Choice Energy Act

New Energy Economy director, Mariel Nanasi, said that on behalf of Tewa Women United, Citizens for Fair Rates and the Environment, Retake Our Democracy, New Mexico Environmental Law Center, Wild Earth Guardians, New Energy Economy and YUCCA (Youth United for Climate Crisis Action), they are in support of SB 83, the Local Choice Energy Act. Local Choice Energy, aka Community Choice Aggregation, is a fundamental shift in our energy system – removing the monopoly of the big investor owned utilities and empowering our local communities and Tribes to control our energy supplies and our energy revenues. Local control will mean that we can keep profits INSIDE our communities, generate local green jobs, and move even more quickly to reduce our carbon emissions. In a nutshell:

Local Choice Energy is a proven economic and energy policy. In the nine other states that have adopted Local Choice, and also here in New Mexico on Picuris Pueblo, electricity rates are, on average, 15 to 20% lower than those charged by the Investor Owned Utilities. A recent analysis in California also found that Local Choice communities opted primarily for 100% renewable energy, driving progress at a faster rate than the state Renewable Portfolio Standard.

The Local Choice Energy Act has already passed through the Senate Conservation committee and will go next to Senate Tax, Business and Transportation. Santa Fe County and the City of Las Cruces have passed resolutions in support of the Local Choice Energy Act, and the natural resources committee of the All Pueblo Council of Governors voted unanimously to support this transformative energy policy solution. 

Mariel recommends this video and this video.

For more information, contact Mariel

After 12 Years, Eyesore of District 4 Must Go

Rob McCorkle would like to know why city leaders are still making up excuses for not doing something about the fenced-off, unfinished skeletal structure at 430 S. Main that has stood for 12 years at the foot of a revitalized downtown at the corner of S. Main and Amador. He said he’s been in contact with the mayor, city councilor Johanna Bencomo, the head of city codes, the new city manager and other city officials asking why nothing has been done for so long and has gotten nothing but obfuscation and excuses. 

The last update on the topic appeared in the Sun-News in February 2019; the article is here.

Rob seeks PVA’s support in ratcheting up the pressure on city officials to resolve this nagging issue that has gone on way too long. 

For more information, contact Rob.  

Slow Return to classrooms

LCPS Board Member, Maria Flores, wanted to explain the slow return to classrooms. High School students that requested time in the classroom started a slow return for 2 days a week, as of February 22nd.  Elementary and Middle School students identified as needing more connection with teachers will start back March 1st. Teachers have volunteered to return to the classroom, and as more are vaccinated, more teachers will trickle back in, allowing more students to be served. This is a very slow, calculated return allowing a test of all safety precautions. It may be that by the end of the year, more students will be allowed to attend classes in person. The Department of Health and the PED have set a very high standard to allow students back to school. This return is not back to school as usual, but rather a highly planned out schedule to allow students and staff to move safely through the buildings. Teachers not returning will continue to teach their classes online. Finally, if you know a student Pre-K to High School, ask them how they are doing, and listen to them, as so many of our students need that extra kindness. After all, they are ALL our students and children.

For more information, contact Maria.

A Public Bank for New Mexico

Alliance for Local Economic Prosperity and bill co-sponsors Sen. Jeff Steinborn and Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero recently submited SB313 and HB236 to the current legislative session. The bills call for the establishment of a public bank for New Mexico, a state-owned institution that would act as a depository for some of New Mexico’s revenue and partner with credit unions and community banks to finance loans for local businesses, infrastructure improvements, renewable energy upgrades, sustainable agricultural methods, and other projects that serve the public interest.

The state public bank would keep New Mexico’s revenue safe, local and working.

For more information, email info@aflep.org or visit www.aflep.org.

Casa de Peregrinos food pantry continues to seek donations

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 Doña 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. 

2021 DPDAC elections – register now to participate!

Democratic Party of Doña Ana County Chair, Mona Trempe, reminds us that the 2021 DPDAC elections are upon us! She says DPDAC needs YOU to participate in order to build our Democratic community so that we are prepared to turn out the vote to be “Blue in 2022!”

Registration is open NOW for candidates and electors (voters) to fill all elected Party positions including Precinct, Ward, and County officers as well as members of the County Central Committee and State Central Committee. There are still plenty of opportunities for YOU to become a leader in the Doña Ana County 

All meetings and associated elections will be virtual this year because of the ongoing health emergency. This actually makes it very easy to participate, but registration in advance is required.

Registration is required to be an elector (voter) and to be a candidate. There is a specific form for each; click these links to:

Please go to http://donaanademocrats.com/dpdac-2021-elections/ for full details about the virtual meetings and associated elections, the voting periods, and lists of declared candidates and certified electors.

Local Choice Energy offers an alternative to the for-profit utility model

Program and Communications Director for New Energy Economy, Saraswati Kaur Khalsa, reminded us that we recently watched in horror as the people of Texas suffered through record cold temperatures without electricity, heat, and running water. How did this happen? For profit utilities in Texas convinced lawmakers to remain separate from the national power grid because they wanted to avoid pesky regulations. Those private utilities then got away with cutting corners – they didn’t properly prepare their gas, coal or renewable sources for severe winter weather. Why is this relevant to New Mexico? Because the utility monopolies in our own state continue to hold undue influence over our own lawmakers. A fix has already been proposed: SB 83 – the Local Choice Energy Act will allow communities in New Mexico to form their own non-profit utilities, source local renewable energy and keep the profits from energy sales. Existing utilities would be paid for their losses and for the use of their transmission and distribution infrastructure. With non-profit municipal or tribal utilities the goal is other than profit. Reliability, renewable energy paired with storage, stable prices, high quality customer service – these have proven to be the focus of these non-profit public power entities. By breaking the monopoly for-profit utility model, we can ensure that New Mexico has the reliable and cost effective energy that has been a proven hallmark of municipal utilities and non-profit community choice aggregation programs, all while keeping profits from energy sales within our state. Please make calls and emails to support SB 83.  

For more information, contact Saraswati

Urgent Action on COVID Relief Bill

Rich Renner reports that congress is working to pass a new COVID relief bill, with the House likely to vote on it this week. This bill must target the people most in need of help – renters facing eviction, families struggling to pay the bills, and impoverished countries fighting the pandemic. Passage is not guaranteed, and your voice could make the difference. He asks us to call our members of Congress today to pass COVID relief, and leave the following message: 

My name is ______and I am a constituent of Representative/Senator ______.  Congress must not delay in passing more COVID relief. I urge the Representative/Senator to support a strong COVID relief bill that includes rent and utility assistance, expands the EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit), and makes low-income children eligible for a larger monthly Child Tax Credit as a monthly allowance. In addition, COVID relief must address global health and nutrition needs in impoverished countries. The time to act is now. I urge Representative/Senator to support these investments today.

Representative Yvette Herrell   202-225-2365   

Senator Martin Heinrich 202-224-5521    

Senator Ben Ray Luján 202-224-6621

More info at RESULTS.org, or contact Rich.

Support for Back-End Automatic Voter Registration 

Energy and Policy Director for ProgressNow New Mexico, Lucas Herndon, points out that every eligible New Mexican deserves access to a fair and secure way to register to vote without unnecessary barriers. He tells us that New Mexico has an opportunity to become a leader in voter registration by upgrading our system to the most secure, accessible model of automatic voter registration. Back-end AVR is proven to be the most effective policy to ensure eligible voters are added to the rolls and securely update voter lists with accurate address information, all while ensuring that people who are not eligible are protected from inadvertent interaction with the system. In doing so, back-end AVR ensures our voter rolls reflect New Mexico’s electorate, while prioritizing the security and sanctity of our elections. Watch here for more information. Lucas asks us to support Back-end AVR and contact our legislator or legislators we know and ask them to support SB14

For more information, contact Lucas (he/his) at 575.342.1505.

Here is an update on El Paso Electric (EPE)

EPE’s request to buy a new 228MW gas fired generator has been denied by the PRC. EPE is continuing to seek approval in Texas. EPE is in the process of developing a 2021 Integrated Resource Plan. This plan will be especially important because it must show how, by the end of the twenty year planning period in 2040, EPE will meet the requirement to produce 80% of the energy sold in New Mexico from renewable resources. 

EPE has filed their Transportation Electrification Plan (TEP). They are proposing to partially subsidize the purchase and installation of a limited number of electric vehicle chargers in private homes, apartment complexes, businesses, and for bus fleets as well as a fast charger near the I-25 corridor. 

We are awaiting a decision in EPE’s rate case. While EPE is asking for a rate INCREASE of $4,664,604 the City and County are fighting for a rate DECREASE of $6,599,256. If they prevail they will have saved New Mexico ratepayers over $11 million per year for each year between now and the next rate case. The next time you contact a City Councilor or County Commissioner please thank them for intervening in the rate case and fighting hard for us.

And join Allen in Merrie Lee’s battle cry – NO NEW FOSSIL FUEL GENERATION!

For more information, contact Allen.

Mayor delivers State of the City address

Mayor Ken Miyagishima delivered his 2021 State of the City address on Wednesday, February 24.  In it, he talked about the City’s response to the COVID-19 challenge, our debt of gratitude to our medical workers, retail clerks, public safety officers, delivery people and all our other neighbors whose courage and service have helped pull us through.  He highlighted the importance of creating opportunities for all residents to enjoy prosperity and access to a variety of options for safe, affordable, energy-efficient housing, as well as a wide variety of other initiatives.  And, as always, his gratitude for getting to serve as your mayor.  You can listen to the address here, or read the text of the address in English or Spanish.  

If you would like to comment on the speech or anything else, you can email Ken.

Disbursement/reimbursement information on 2019-2020 Migration assistance and 2020-2021 Covid 19 relief

Mark Cobb explains that he recently submitted a request to the City Budget office and Mayor asking for an update regarding the disbursements/reimbursements of/to the city for Covid assistance to residents and businesses, and migration assistance. He says it would be nice to know if reimbursement occurred in some form. And perhaps included in a report, upcoming planning for migration and covid assistance should it become necessary since the ‘remain in Mexico’ policy has been disbanded. Leeann DeMouche responded by providing the report I have attached for Covid-19 funding (contact Mark for the full report – below is just a snippet). It will be updated shortly. “However, I have received no response from Leeann regarding migration assistance reimbursement and final totals for 2019-2020, nor details of planning for the upcoming year. I will provide an update in next month’s recap,” said Mark.

PVA happens again

(The recap will arrive in your inbox)

Thursday, March 25, 2021, 7pm

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