Report from Las Cruces: Southern NM Progressives Led Progressive Wins in #NMLEG
Last fall, voters in southern New Mexico sent an exciting new delegation of progressive champions to Santa Fe to represent us. Now that the 2017 Legislature is coming to a close, let’s check in on some of their successes and how they’ve helped move New Mexico forward!
Check out what progressive champions in other parts of the state have been up to here:
Senator Soules isn’t a new face to Santa Fe, but his first re-election bid was challenged by conservative PACs backing an ultra-conservative candidate. Fortunately, Soules was able to return and has been busy working on some important legislation from the senate side of things.
The senator focused on helping average New Mexicans by working on legislation that would have upped the state minimum wage, lowered the amount of interest on small loans people take against their paychecks, and increasing legislation to protect people from having their utilities turned off.
And as always, he stood firm on some important environmental issues as well. This included voting against a bad bill that would have given the State Land Commissioner more power over federal monument designations, a bill to ban coyote kill contests, and supporting new clean energy bills.
As an educator, Soules worked to create some safeguards during this extremely volatile budget crises during which the Governor has slashed school budgets across the board. He also supported allowing local school boards to have more autonomy in terms of regulating start times, class sizes, and teacher’s educational materials.
Rep. Rubio really did shine as a new addition to the Roundhouse this year. Besides working on some truly progressive legislation that is important to the state, Rubio was often seen at public gatherings around the capital where she didn’t shy away from big issues.
Check out the time she spoke in favor of keeping public lands public and accessible in no uncertain terms here! She also cosponsored a bill to keep state lands from being used for Trump’s wall, another great bill.
She voted along with other progressives to see more transparency in state government through an independent ethics commission, more funds for our teachers and classrooms by releasing monies from the Permanent Fund, and to keep our streets safer by voting for smarter gun laws.
Joanne Ferrary fought hard to get to Santa Fe. After two unsuccessful bids for the seat in district 37, Joanne won handily in 2016 after an intense grassroots campaign. Since being at the legislature, she’s worked to invest in education and a stronger economy for Southern New Mexico. She sponsored legislation (HB 185) to limit the number of hours per semester that schools and school districts can administer standardized tests. This bill aimed to promote teaching and bring back the excitement of learning into the classroom. Ferrary also sponsored legislation to increase the number of New Mexico businesses involved in state contracting and to investigate ways in which loans from the New Mexico Finance Authority can be made more available to local entrepreneurs.
During the 60-day session, she was especially interested in protecting healthy families, which is why she sponsored bills providing accommodations to pregnant women in the workplace, making sure insurance policies in the state include coverage for contraception, and calling on state agencies to combine their purchasing power to lower the cost of medication for our residents.
It was good to see Rep. Rudy Martinez back in the Roundhouse this year where he worked hard this session to pass responsible legislation toward balancing the budget, creating jobs, expanding health care, making investments in children, and more transparency of government in Santa Fe.
Rudy sponsored several pieces of legislation that are consistent with these values. HB 249 – College Special Event Gross Receipt – Allows for deductions of gross receipts tax for events at universities located within 50 miles of the NM border, creating jobs and generating much-needed revenue in Southern New Mexico.
Rep. Martinez also sponsored legislation (HB 356) to promote local business projects. After speaking with thousands to constituents, Rep. Martinez has also sponsored legislation to protect and honor our Veterans, and strengthen our families by investing in our children.
Rep. Small hit the ground running in his first session, sponsoring over 20 pieces of legislation. Especially important is his value added agriculture bill (HB 289) which would support agricultural products throughout the state and bring jobs to rural communities. Rep. Small also introduced and supported legislation that would bring more clean energy jobs to New Mexico and legislation that invests in our students.
Rep. Small made particularly strong efforts in government accountability. He co-sponsored HB 73 which would have close the loophole that allows public officials to lobby in Santa Fe as well as HJR 8 which would create an independent ethics commission.