2013 session ends on a good note

Roundhouse - by Dan Lorimier

By Dan Lorimier
Chapter lobbyist

After 60 stressful days of committee hearings, floor sessions, caucuses and meetings, the First Session of the 51st Legislature drew to a close at noon March 16.

Hard lobbying by the Rio Grande Chapter and our ally organizations blocked all of the environmentally threatening legislative proposals put forth in 2013. We also successfully worked to pass several proactive bills and memorials.

The chapter Lobby Team was strengthened with support from Gaye Reese and Elliot Stern, who reinforced Legislative Chair Judith Bunney’s daily efforts. We also got analytical help from Legislative Committee members like Jack Sullivan and Ken Hughes. Chapter activists provided strong support for our priority bills.

The Good

SB264, An Act Relating To Taxation: Creating An Electrical Vehicle Income Tax Credit For Qualified Electric Vehicles Until 2018, was Sponsored by Democratic Sen. Phil Griego. After passing the Senate committees and floor, it died in House Tax and Revenue Committee just days before the end of the Session.

See Page 4 of the April 2013 issue of RG Sierran to read about HB316 and HB579, the bills on trapping and killing contests.

Some good legislation at the time of writing awaits the governor’s signature.

SB14, Sustainable Building Tax Credit, sponsored by Sen. Peter Wirth and Rep. Carl Trujillo, extends this successful program until 2016. Passed.

HB279, Solar Collector Rules, sponsored by Rep. Mimi Stewart, lowers the cost of residential solar installations by standardizing the building codes for that work. Passed.

HM42, Parkinson’s Disease & Chemical Exposure, sponsored by Rep. Terry McMillan, a physician, asks for a state agency review of pesticide use here and supports federal legislative efforts to track the relationship between pesticide use and exposure to diseases like Parkinson’s. Because HM42 passed the House, it has been signed by the Speaker, Rep. Ken Martinez, and is complete. The governor doesn’t sign or veto memorials, which are strictly Legislative-branch documents. Passed.

The Bad

SB193 Water Quality Control Commissioners, sponsored by Sen. Griego, would have weakened an already hyper-pro-industry regulatory commission by removing commissioners representing the public, the Department of Health and others. Failed.

SB194, No Agriculture As A Nuisance, sponsored by Sen. Phil Griego and duplicated on the House side with HB652 sponsored by Rep. George Dodge, would immunize the agriculture industry (think dairies, feed lots and farming operations) from being sued for impairing the private property rights of neighbors. Failed.

SB552, Livestock Operation Interference Act, sponsored by Sen. Cliff Pirtle, would have made it a crime to photograph, film or record anything happening, no matter if it’s negligent or illegal, on an agricultural facility. Failed.

HB266, Renewable Energy Procurement Limits, sponsored by Rep. James Strickler, was a direct attack on our Renewable Energy Portfolio. Failed.

The Ugly

HB292, Transfer of Public Lands Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Yvette Herrell and Sen. Richard Martinez, was one of four bills and memorials calling for the return or the study of the return of all nonprotected federal lands to the state to be managed and exploited locally. These land-grab efforts by the extreme right wing threaten the health and professional management standards our federal public lands now are protected by. See also SB404, SJM53 and SM93. All failed.

HB307, No Policies From UN Rio Declaration, sponsored by Rep. Thomas Anderson, attempted to restrict municipalities, towns and villages from adding bike lanes, opting for traffic-calming projects or even considering environmental justice when making decisions because these were identified along with other progressive guidelines in a nonbinding U.N. resolution that the U.S. agreed to during the first Bush administration. Failed.

HM96 Erosion Of Sovereignty & Property Ownership sponsored by Rep. Tomas Anderson was another memorial complaining that we shouldn’t consider evolving as a culture and country but instead should defend our current lifestyles, regardless of their wastefulness or non-renewable nature and to continue to be the America described in the 1950s.

HB149 Lightbulb Mercury Exposure Dangers sponsored again, by Rep. Thomas Anderson addresses a problem that doesn’t exist. New Mexicans know how to safely treat compact fluorescent bulbs and recognize the dangers of mercury emitted from coal burning power plants in our state.