Fresh off a ski trip to Utah alongside national Republican donors, Gov. Susana Martinez chided Democratic legislative leaders for wasting time in the closing days of the 2017 legislative session. Alternative facts aren’t just for Washington, DC anymore.
Don’t let the governor’s spin machine fool you. A review of legislation sent to her desk by legislators shows that the legislature has been busy, just not busy passing legislation she wants. In fact, the legislature’s bill tracker shows that 175 pieces of legislation have passed in the first seven weeks of the two-month session.
There’s just one week left to go in the legislative session. Democratic majorities in both chambers – bolstered by stronger progressive caucuses after big wins in the 2016 elections – have accomplished a ton, but there is still a lot left to do.
With a dismal track-record over the past 7 years and new polling showing an historically bad job approval rating, Gov. Martinez is clearly trying to distract from her failed leadership.
The governor might have a better bead on what’s of concern to New Mexicans if she stopped skiing and started working like the legislative branch has been doing for the past two months.
Since this is highly unlikely, however, we thought we should take some time to recap some of the 2017 legislature’s accomplishments so far.
Here are just a few of the bills Governor Martinez already vetoed:
- Still claiming to be “tough on crime,” Martinez vetoed $800,000 in funding to keep jury trials on track for persons accused of crimes, even though she thought it prudent to spend 1/4 of that amount remodeling her office last year (and, she keeps fully funding her now-infamous “Pizza Party” account at the expense of New Mexico taxpayers).
- The “jobs governor” vetoed another bill allowing New Mexico farmers to develop and grow hemp. That bill would have created new agricultural jobs for an industry that uses half the water of traditional New Mexico crops. 32 other states have already passed hemp legislation.
- On Thursday, Martinez vetoed a bill to let teachers use their contractually-negotiated sick days when they get sick. Yep.
Here are some of the biggest progressive policy victories the legislature has already accomplished this year:
- Facing one of the worst budget crises in state history, the Legislature quickly solved the looming crisis and balanced the state budget – sparing the state from harsh cuts to education, health care, and other critical services.
- Bills to expand broadband access throughout New Mexico (update: Martinez signed this bill)
- Progressive women in the House led the effort to table three Republican bills to restrict women’s access to health care and abortion in New Mexico.
- (Bonus: The House passed State Rep. Debbie Armstrong’s bill requiring insurance companies to cover 12-months of birth control at no cost to anyone who asks).
- After a years-long fight, the House passed a proposal that would increase funding for K-12 and early childhood education by tapping the state’s $5 billion permanent fund. That bill now goes to the Senate.
- Both chambers have passed bills to increase the state’s minimum wage –measures that have some of the broadest support (from industry and advocacy groups) in recent memory.
- And this week the Senate also passed a cigarette tax increase that would raise $89 million for the state’s public schools whose budgets have been slashed to the bone under Gov. Martinez. (Raising the cigarette tax was the most popular tax measure tested by ProgressNow in last week’s poll of NM voters).
And now, with just one week still to go, we’re watching some of the most exciting legislation that’s still to come:
- House and Senate versions of legislation to (finally) require background checks for guns sales at gun shows and for online and newspaper sales are coming to critical votes this week.
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- A proposal to tax the top 1% of New Mexico’s highest earners and bring more fairness to our tax system is scheduled to be heard on the House floor tonight.
- The Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill to reduce penalties for marijuana possession this week and now it moves on to the House.
- And, of course, there is still the state budget. A recent ProgressNow NM poll found that 61% of New Mexicans (including a majority of Republicans) oppose the Governor’s plan to preserve corporate income tax breaks and cut critical programs.
The head-to-head matchup over the budget is going to be the biggest issue to watch as the clock ticks towards sine die at noon on Saturday, March 18th.
What can you do to support the hard work of New Mexico’s Legislature and push back against the Gov’s alternative facts?
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