The 2019 legislative session began today! You often hear politicians talk about what they are going to do on ‘Day One’ but we haven’t had an honest conversation about the direction to take New Mexico for the last eight years under a Republican governor. We have an opportunity during the next 60 days we can’t afford to waste.
During this session our citizen legislators need to hear from us. Among our priorities are healthy families and communities, education, clean energy, and ethical government. We want to diversify our economy and provide opportunity while protecting our public lands. Many of us feel strongly about animal welfare issues and threats to the environment and wildlife in our state.
Our new governor has promised to invest in schools so every student will have a chance to succeed. A school, however, is a reflection of the community from which its students are drawn. Nearly three-quarters of students here come from low income families. Real change requires recognizing and fixing real world problems. As teachers know, if a kid is having trouble in school, something happening at home is often the root of the problem. Successful schools reach out to families and involve the whole community in the job of education.
We can push legislation that builds a green future and lessens the state’s dependence on oil and gas royalties and our personal dependence on fossil fuels. A number of bills have been introduced which will commit us to that transition. The fossil fuel industry has enormous resources and it will be a battle. However, our responsibility to our children and those who follow is clear.
Already we are seeing some responsible and humane decisions at the state level regarding wildlife on state lands. The ban on coyote killing contests is a first step. We should ban trapping as well. It is not right.
New Mexicans also voted to establish an ethics commission to oversee state government. The legislature will have to provide the framework for the commission this session. Without transparency in political contributions and a serious attempt to limit the influence of money in politics, a lot of what we want to accomplish will be impossible.
Sixty days is not a lot of time. According to the legislative database 230 bills have already been filed in the House and over 250 in the Senate. We could see over a thousand bills introduced between the two houses. Along with our partner, Retake Our Democracy, we will keep you informed on how important legislation is moving and how you can influence the outcome. That information will show up here on New Mexico Resistance.
There are a couple of important workshops coming up during the session and some days you will want to be at the Roundhouse. You can bring your shovel to Acequia Day on Tuesday, February 5th. We always joke that a shovel comes in handy at the legislature. Tuesday, January 29th is Animal Protection Lobby Day. Clean Energy Day is also the 29th of January in the afternoon.
There will be plenty of other opportunities. It is time for boldness and innovation. From health care and education to the environment and renewable energy, New Mexico can lead the way.
Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work!