2015-2016

CVNM Conservation Scorecard – Conservation Voters New Mexico

Effective Government
Effective Government Votes ↓

Effective Government

Effective government (or “good government”) refers to the way in which elected officials exercise their political authority to serve their constituencies. Good governance, with respect to the environment, requires that decisions are made and implemented using legitimate (legal), transparent, participatory, responsive and equitable processes to achieve effective policies that protect New Mexico’s communities and natural resources.

A common-sense, balanced tax policy is a strong indicator of effective governance.  Tax policy is a reasonably accurate representation of a government’s priorities: Who is paying their fair share?  Which government “favorites” are getting huge tax credits, deductions and exemptions, and who is paying the price for them?  From a specifically environmental perspective, how well does a state’s tax policy address the public costs of certain activities — for example, the waste or emissions produced by certain industries? Costs of enforcement, cleanup and disposal — as well as losses suffered from permanent extraction or contamination — are mostly borne by the public; tax policy is an effective tool the government can use to remedy that inequity.

In part because of the ugly, partisan struggles that have dominated New Mexico politics for the past several years, over everything from the state budget to environmental rulemaking, many New Mexicans have lost faith in our elected representatives. Many believe that “Santa Fe” no longer works for ordinary people or in the interest of our families and communities.

New Mexicans deserve better from our elected officials than:

  • Gov. Martinez unlawfully suspending rules designed to protect water quality, improve energy efficiency or reduce harmful carbon pollution; and,
  • The legislature sacrificing the enforcement of public health and safety laws in order to balance the budget, when instead they could have closed tax loopholes for out-of-state oil and gas companies in order to generate funds.

The Administrative Rulemaking Trend: A recent, disturbing trend against effective government is the push for the legislature to have more direct control over administrative rulemaking. New Mexico has thousands of state rules on the books in its Administrative Code, all adopted in accordance with laws passed by the state legislature. Many of these rules involve complicated standards established after exhaustive consideration of many hours of expert and public testimony, and thousands of pages of technical documents.

The legislature, on the other hand, works 30- or 60-day sessions, during which time they must focus on hundreds or thousands of bills and other measures. Our citizen legislators simply don’t have the time or capacity to deliberate a rule adequately, including allowing time for appropriate technical testimony and scientific study. Rushed and superficial examination of complex environmental issues could likely result in decisions that would be based at least partly on political considerations and pressure from lobbyists, rather than methodical analysis.

This doesn’t mean that the current administrative rulemaking process is without its flaws. For an example of both good and bad government with respect to rulemaking, see this story of how energy conservation rules were first adopted and then repealed.

Example of action that fosters effective government:

It’s difficult to achieve good government without transparency. Fortunately, after a few fits and starts, the legislature passed a measure sponsored by Sen. Sander Rue which created the “Sunshine Portal.” The portal provides public access to important information about New Mexico state government, including spending, budgets, revenues, employees, contracts and more. You can access the Sunshine Portal from this link.

Examples of actions that fail to foster effective government:

In several cases, the Martinez administration has dismantled, or attempted to dismantle, rules already on the books in New Mexico.

  • Initially, the administration unlawfully refused to publish the duly-adopted rules on energy efficiency, water quality and carbon pollution. After the New Mexico Supreme Court forced Martinez’s agencies to follow the law in those cases, her appointed boards and commissions sought to reverse prior decisions with the absolute minimum of public input and consideration.
  • The New Mexico Game Commission repealed a ban on trapping in the Gila National Forest, further threatening the endangered Mexican gray wolf and other wildlife.
  • The Construction Industries Commission (CIC) reversed a common-sense energy conservation code designed to save New Mexicans money on their utility bills. You can find an excellent description of how two rulemakings on the same issue can be starkly different with respect to transparency here.
  • The Oil Conservation Commission (OCC) recently reversed the “pit rules,” which govern the disposal of toxic wastes from oil and gas drilling. Despite more than 400 cases of groundwater contamination before the rule, and exactly zero cases of groundwater contamination since the rule went into effect, the commission opted to side with big oil companies instead of landowners and New Mexicans desperately trying to protect precious water resources.

Related Votes

Priority # Name Sponsor(s) Issue(s) CVNM Postion Year Legislative Link Outcome CVNM Sort CVNM Sort #
HB 70/SB 23 Amendment to Uranium Hexafluoride Gross Receipts Support 2012 HB 70/SB 23 on nmlegis.gov The amendment failed to pass the Senate (16-25), and was not heard in the House. The corresponding bill passed and was signed into law. 0 70
HJR 8 Appointment of PRC Members, CA Oppose 2016 HJR 8 on nmlegis.gov HJR 8 was defeated in the House Judiciary Committee (8-3). 40 8
HB 340 Change Certain Voter ID Requirements Oppose 2015 HB 340 on nmlegis.gov HB 340 passed the House (37-29) and died in the Senate Rules Committee. 0 340
SB 315 City or County Comprehensive Plans Support 2013 SB 315 on nmlegis.gov SB 315 passed the Senate (32-9), and passed the House (67-0), but was pocket-vetoed by the Governor. 50 315
PR Confirmation of Ryan Flynn as Secretary of the Environment Department Oppose 2014 on nmlegis.gov Ryan Flynn's confirmation as Secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department passed 30-11 on the Senate floor. 0
HB 74 Conservancy District Absentee Ballots , , Support 2012 HB 74 on nmlegis.gov HB 47 passed both the House (63-2) and the Senate (36-0) and was signed by the Governor on March 5, 2012. 0 74
PR HB 458 Consolidated Environmental Review Act , , , , , Support 2013 HB 458 on nmlegis.gov HB 458 died in the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee. 0 458
HJR 9 Convention of States Oppose 2016 HJR 9 on nmlegis.gov HJR 9 passed the House (36-27), but died in the Senate Judiciary Committee. 40 9
HB 40 Designation of Benefit Corporations Support 2013 HB 40 on nmlegis.gov HB 40 passed the House (62-3) and passed the Senate (33-6), but was pocket-vetoed by the Governor. 0 40
SJR 6 Eliminate Public Regulation Commission, CA , , , Oppose 2011 SJR 6 on nmlegis.gov SJR 6 died in Senate Rules Committee. 90 6
PR HB 429 Environmental Private Right of Action , , , Support 2013 HB 429 on nmlegis.gov HB 429 died on the House floor (30-36). 0 429
PR SB 219 Expiration of Rules Oppose 2015 SB 219 on nmlegis.gov SB 219 died in the Senate Rules Committee. 50 219
PR HJR 3 Legislative Nullification of Rules Andy Nuñez , , , , Oppose 2011 HJR 3 on nmlegis.gov HJR 3 died in House Judiciary Committee. 40 3
HM 4/SM 3 Opposition to Citizens United Ruling Support 2012 HM 4/SM 3 on nmlegis.gov HM 4 passed the House (38-29) and SM 3 passed the Senate (20-9). Memorials and resolutions do not require action by the Governor. 60 4
HB 35 Public Meeting Agendas 72 Hours Prior Support 2012 HB 35 on nmlegis.gov HB 35 passed the House (57-9), but died on the Senate floor calendar. Senate Public Affairs Committee (SPAC) and Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) voted. 0 35
PR HB 299 Public-Private Partnership Act Oppose 2015 HB 299 on nmlegis.gov HB 299 passed the House (38-27) and died in the Senate Judiciary Committee. 0 299
PR HB 405 Public-Private Partnerships Act Oppose 2013 HB 405 on nmlegis.gov HB 405 passed the House (50-19) and died in the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee (SCORP). 0 405
PR SB 147 Publish Legal Notices on Websites , Oppose 2011 SB 147 on nmlegis.gov SB 147 died in Senate Judiciary Committee. 50 147
PR SB 190/SB 459 Repeal Effectiveness of Some Rules , , Oppose 2011 SB 190/SB 459 on nmlegis.gov SB 190 and SB 459 died in Senate Judiciary Committee 0 190
HB 34 Rulemaking Requirements Support 2012 HB 34 on nmlegis.gov HB 34 died in Senate Judiciary Committee. 0 34
PR SB 148 Rules for License Application Time Frames Oppose 2011 SB 148 on nmlegis.gov SB 148 died in Senate Public Affairs Committee. 50 148
HB 188 Sand & Gravel Mining Violation Penalties Support 2015 HB 188 on nmlegis.gov HB 188 died in the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee. 0 188
SM 47 Study Transfer of Federal Lands to State , Oppose 2014 SM 47 on nmlegis.gov SM 47 was defeated on a tied vote in the Senate Rules Committee. 60 47
PR HB 292/SB 404 Transfer of Public Land Act , Oppose 2013 HB 292/SB 404 on nmlegis.gov HB 292 died in the House Health, Government and Indian Affairs Committee. SB 404 died in the Senate Conservation Committee. 0 292
PR HB 213 Transfer Services to DOE and Make EIB Advisory Oppose 2011 HB 213 on nmlegis.gov HB 213 died in House Health & Government Affairs Committee. 0 213
PR SB 273 Transportation Public-Private Partnerships Oppose 2013 SB 273 on nmlegis.gov SB 273 died in the Senate Judiciary Committee. 50 273
PR HB 225 Water Quality Control Act Revisions , Oppose 2011 HB 225 on nmlegis.gov HB 225 died in House Energy & Natural Resources Committee. 0 225