2020 Special Session Recap

Well we made it through another special session of the New Mexico Legislature and a few weeks later we continue to reflect on the wins, the losses, and the absolute ridiculousness of some of the debates. While some important pieces of legislation were passed and a compromise budget was agreed to, there was a lot left to be desired. But we get it, the Senate specifically couldn’t do EVERYTHING on the table, they had to save THREE AND HALF HOURS to pat each other on the back and complement each other for all the work they haven’t done in the last 20 years. Sure will be nice to have new Senators in 2021 who seem willing to actually get to work. 

If you’ve ever wondered why the NM Senate doesn’t seem to get things done, especially in the last few years since Progresive Democrats took back the House with such gusto in 2016, look no further than how SB4 was treated this past session. 

SB4 is an election reform bill designed with input from the Secretary of State and multiple County Clerks from around the state. One of the major points of that bill was to allow County Clerks who chose to opt in to mail ballots directly to voters without having to go through the application process which confused and bogged down the system this past month during the primaries.

Despite price crash, Big Oil is still spending big in New Mexico elections

As the price of crude oil continues to struggle given the global pandemic and reduced demand and overproduction, America’s oil companies are seeking access to government programs to grant them “liquidity” during these “tough times.” They keep saying they’re not asking for a bailout, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, right? 

But wait, if times are so tough, how are these companies spending so much money to try and influence elections in places like New Mexico? Apparently, they can’t even “afford” to abide by decade-old EPA regulations, according to their own spokespeople. National companies like Chevron and big companies in the state like Mack and Yates, along with their lobbyist lackeys, the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association and Power the Future, have amassed over $700,000 in the latest campaign finance reports, and we’re still a week out from early voting starting. To be clear, that’s new money since the last reports, those PACs all have other funds available as well, from previous campaigns. 

According to the most recent financial reporting documents filed with the Secretary of State, three big PACs have amassed a huge war chest aimed at pushing their industry-first policies across state government. Oh, and that doesn’t include spending from national Super PACs like Citizens for a United New Mexico which has over $70,000 on hand to spend on just ONE race.

Voting in the time of COVID-19 *UPDATED*

In the midst of this unprecedented time, we wanted to provide a place for everyone to find out what resources were available to continue participating in our democracy to the best of your ability. 

A recent New Mexico Supreme Court decision declared that in-person voting must still be an option, so early voting will begin in-person May 5th. However, because the extent to which communities will still be under stay-at-home orders because of Covid-19, if you are able to vote absentee it is a safe and easy choice to continue your social distancing. First of all, applying for an absentee ballot is an option. RIGHT NOW! Click on this link to be taken directly to the Secretary of State’s Absentee Ballot Application page.

#GOPSoRacist right before local elections around NM

With just a few days before local elections take place around the state, arch-conservative “news” outlet the New Mexico Political Journal posted this incredibly racist post about the time change. (If the link is broken good, there’s a screencap below to check out too)

Here’s the link

And also here’s a screenshot, because honestly we’ve been reporting the post to Facebook and hope it gets taken down because it clearly depicts anti-Islamic views and racist views toward people from the Middle East in general. But it’s important we document these cases of racism and call them out as we see them. Just so we’re all clear here, NMPJ is operated by former NM Republican Senator Rod Adair. According to his own About page, his publication doesn’t “tolerate racism or ethnic bigotry” but clearly they don’t understand what those terms really mean.

It’s Always Susana in New Mexico (at least when it comes to oil and gas)

ProgressNow New Mexico has published a number of articles about the deep ties the oil and gas industry has with former Governor Susana Martinez’ administration. But when you stop and look at the makeup of top lobbying groups like the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA), so-called Power the Future, and top lobbyists for other extraction industry titans, the numbers are truly stunning. At least nine top lobbyists currently working in the extraction industry (or lobbyist adjacent) came directly out of the Martinez administration. The big problem? New Mexico doesn’t have a law that requires a “cooling off” period for officials once they leave the public sector and return to private life.

#NMLEG WRAP UP

This year’s legislative session was a really intense roller coaster, to say the least, and we all took some time to rest and reflect together on why we do this important political work. ProgressNow New Mexico’s coverage hardly scratched the surface and I want to take a moment to fill you in. I will also give you some tips on how you can help fight back against dangerous rhetoric! Reproductive Health

Anti-abortion extremists were in full force, spreading misinformation and only harassing an Indigenous and queer person (me) over House Bill 51, not including legislators and their families. They regularly use tactics like harassing and stalking to intimidate activists, medical providers, and patients so this is just one of their many tactics.

Too Much At Stake To Not Vote

There’s plenty of reasons people use to excuse themselves from not voting. But in case you need a reminder of why every vote, and especially your vote is important, we simply need to look at our state’s national rankings on everything from education to healthcare. That’s right, we are last in everything! In fact, New Mexico was recently ranked 51st in the nation in terms of our level of political engagement.   

A highly engaged electorate that participates in the democratic process and holds our elected officials accountable is critical to having a well-functioning democracy.