Special Report on SB 8, the New Mexico Voting Rights Act
Lydia Hammond, of America Votes, explained that SB8, which is now in the Rules Committee, would make New Mexico #1 in the nation in terms of enfranchising voters. Components of the bill include the following:
- Native American Voting Rights Act
- Rights restoration for formerly incarcerated individuals
- Permanent absentee ballot registration
- Election Day holiday
- Back-end-opt-out automatic voter registration
- Sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds vote in local elections
- Online petition signatures
- Improved online voter registration
Lydia asked that we contact members of the Senate Rules Committee, especially chairperson Ivey-Soto, and let them know you support the bill in its entirety. All meetings of the Rules Committee are online and public comment can be made in person or online.
The Governor’s press release gives an overview of the bill.
The complete text of the bill is here.
Members of the Senate Rules Committee are listed here (scroll down for member contact information).
For more information, send email to Lydia.
Joel Cano is running for another term on Magistrate Court
Judge Cano asked for support as he runs for another term. He explained that COVID has made it extremely difficult for candidates to obtain the signatures needed to get their names on the ballot. Therefore, everyone is invited to a petition-signing party. There will be a live band, food, a cash bar, and lots of candidates with petitions in hand.
Petition Signing Party
Lescombes Winery & Bistro, on the patio
Saturday, February 5, 3 to 7 pm
All candidates for local offices are invited. Candidates must pay $200 to attend, but everyone else is free. Questions about the event can be sent to Joel at email@example.com.
Kent Wingenroth is running for another term on Magistrate Court
Kent began by noting that he has been coming to PVA since 2006 to ask for support in his bids for a seat on the Magistrate Court. He’s running again because he still loves “dealing with the people, dealing with the defendants, dealing with the attorneys.” He closed by wishing everybody good health–physically and mentally. “We’ve all been going through a lot,” he said.
For more information email Kent.
Robert Lara is running for District Court Judge
Robert Lara, currently a staff attorney for the Third Judicial District Court of Doña Ana County, is hoping to be elected judge. Robert mentioned that he has been a Democratic party member since the age of 18. He spoke of his grandparents, both union workers, who taught their grandchildren that it is our duty to help our neighbors. Robert sees the law as his way of helping.
For more information visit Robert’s campaign website.
Alex Rossario is running for Magistrate Court Judge
Alex, currently a magistrate judge, explained that he was previously a prosecutor and much prefers being a judge. “I really get the opportunity to serve this community,” he said. He encouraged everyone to attend the February 5 signature party: “We’ll all be able to get together safely, have a reasonably good time, and maybe enjoy a little bit of normalcy.”
More About SB 8 and voting rights
Nick Voges works with a coalition of over 50 organizations that have been focused the New Mexico Voting Rights Act. He called our attention to the back-end-opt-out voter registration component of the bill. He said that there are currently 473,000 eligible but unregistered voters in New Mexico and that with the current front-end-opt-out model 80% of eligible but unregistered voters opt out when offered the opportunity to register at the Department of Motor Vehicles. With the back-end-opt-out model, eligible voters who interact with the DMV receive a mailer explaining that they will be automatically registered to vote unless they return the mailer indicating their desire not to be registered. A very small number decline to be registered.
Nick said that back-end-opt-out voter registration and lowering the voting age to 16 for local elections seem to be the most vulnerable parts of the bill. He suggested letting Senators Katie Duhigg and Mimi Stewart know you support those measures. Also, let Senator Peter Wirth know you appreciate his work to keep the bill whole.
For more information send email to Nick or call him at 575-915-2305.
Zachary Quintero is candidate for State Auditor
Zachary introduced himself by pointing out his deep roots in Doña Ana County including his graduation from Tombaugh Elementary, Zia Middle School, Las Cruces High School, and NMSU. (His law degree is from UNM.) He served recently as a federal ombudsman appointed by Governor Lujan Grisham to conduct a statewide investigation of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation with regard to adults with disabilities, seniors, and veterans. Zachary said it was important that southern New Mexico get the “consideration and representation it deserves.” He concluded with a shout out to his high school English professor, Bob Wofford, now a school board member.
For more information visit Zach’s website.
Child Tax Credit lifted New Mexico children out of poverty
Rich Renner of RESULTS New Mexico asked that we contact Representative Herrell and ask her to support extending the child tax credit. Rich noted that in New Mexico 71,000 children under the age of 8 were lifted above or closer to the poverty line because of the child tax credit. Research shows that the child tax credit funds were spent on food, rent, child care, and other basic needs. This spending improves health and educational outcomes and decreases public spending in areas such as health, social services, and criminal justice.
For more information email Rich.
Make good choices–here are some good ones
Don Kurtz began by noting that the Energy Transition Act has put New Mexico on a path to all clean energy by 2045. With that in mind, Don pointed out that the choices we make about our cars and appliances will have a huge impact on the environment. Don said it’s time to be thinking that our next car will be an electric car, our next AC unit will be a combination AC and electric heat pump, and our next water heater will be a super efficient heat pump water heater.
For more information send email to Don.
Support the Public Bank Act, HB75
Jennifer Kreie spoke in support of the Public Bank Act and asked that we contact members of the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee (especially Representative Doreen Gallegos) and let them know we want the bill to pass. The bill is sponsored by Representative Patricia Roybal Caballero and Senator Jeff Steinborn. Jennifer explained that a public bank works in partnership–not competition–with local credit unions, community banks, and community development institutions. A public bank makes financial tools such as loans accessible to small businesses and individuals in the community. Jennifer said that this is the ideal time to institute public banking since New Mexico currently has “quite a bit of money.”
For more information check out Public Banking NM on YouTube and send email to Jennifer.
Three bills that will save you money
Allen Downs had money saving suggestions starting with getting an electric car. After you do that, you can ask El Paso Electric for a rebate on the purchase of a home electric vehicle charger. Next ask for the Whole House Electric Vehicle rider. The charger rebate information is here and the whole house electric vehicle rate information is here.
In the meantime we can urge our state senators and representatives to support three bills that will help speed the conversion to renewable energy:
- HB 11, energy storage system tax credit
- HB 34, solar tax credit extension
- HD 35, geothermal ground-coupled heat pump tax credit
For more information send email to Allen.
Democratic Party ward meetings
Cheryl Frank invited Democrats to participate in the process that gets candidates on the ballot. It begins with ward meetings and progresses to the County Convention and then the State Convention. You can find information about the process at the Doña Ana Democrats website.
For more information send email to Cheryl.
A privilege, an honor, a wild and crazy ride
Maria Flores expressed appreciation for the support she received during her three terms on the Las Cruces School Board. She pointed out three changes during her tenure that she is especially proud of: 1) the school board meeting is actually run by school board members, 2) a student advisor meets with the board and sits on the dias during meetings, and 3) relations with the teachers’ unions have improved and unions have a voice at school board meetings.
For more information send email to Maria.
Two bills that will save you money
Rocky Bacchus spoke in support of HB34 and HB35. These bills will reinstate geothermal and solar energy incentives and make both refundable for all income levels. Representative Ferrary and Senator Soules are sponsoring the bills and it would be great if they heard from people who support the bills.
For more information call Rocky at 575-652-0010.
Methane is a big mess
Antoinette Reyes asked for signatures on a Sierra Club petition in support of federal methane rules. New Mexico has methane regulation rules in place, but federal rules are needed in part because we’re vulnerable to methane pollution from neighboring states.
For more information contact Antoinette at Antoinette.Reyes@sierraclub.org or 575-342-1727.
Citizen-at-large members needed for Gender Inclusive Schools committee
Bob Wofford announced that Las Cruces Public Schools have just put into place a gender inclusive policy. The policy supports LGBTQ students and recognizes their special needs. A committee will establish how to carry out the policy. In addition to students, teachers, parents, and administrators, there will be two positions for citizens-at-large. Anyone interested in applying can contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sheriff Kim Stewart is running for a second term
“Despite COVID we’ve done a heck of a job,” she said of the Doña Ana Sheriff’s Office. She reported that the department is fully staffed and “that means people want to work for us.” She noted that they have created a policy and procedures manual after 20 years without one.
For more information send email to Kim.
Gill Sorg is busier than ever
Gill Sorg, formerly City Councilor Sorg, observed that he is busier than ever with the Soil and Water Conservation District and Conservation Voters New Mexico. He pointed out that there are some problems with the hydrogen bill currently in the New Mexico Senate including the bill’s tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.
For more information send email to Gill.
Heartfelt kudos for PVA
Nick Voges–now of Albuquerque, formerly of Las Cruces–said that organizations around the state are learning a lot of lessons from the PVA. He mentioned PVA’s “intrepidness and engagement.”
For more information send email to Nick or call him at 575-915-2305.