Category Archives: Legislation

Bills in the NM Legislature or other Legislative Issues

PDA Educate Congress July Letter Drops On Climate Emergency

PDA Citizen Advocacy

This month PDA is asking our Representatives and Senators to sign on to a Climate Emergency Resolution introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders, Representatives Blumenauer and Ocasio-Cortez. In the same letter we are asking that they sign a letter to DNC Chair Perez requesting a national climate debate. The information below provides the PDA letters to the House and Senate, a helpful fact sheet which contains the text of the Resolution, a list of sponsors of the Climate Emergency.

Huge Climate Emergency Resolution Push

Click here to see if your Rep. is on the house version. Click here to see if your Senator is on Senate version.

Click here for the Resolution Letters: Dem. House; Dem. Senate; Republican House; Republican Senate.

Click here for an online fact sheet with some helpful links. Click here for a printable/deliverableversion of the fact sheet. (Suggested for your delivery.)

Click here for a downloadable/printable version of the resolution.

Here’s a list of the endorsers:

  • APAL Communications Connections
  • Architects Advocate for Action on Climate Change
  • Bold Iowa
  • Brattleboro Common Sense
  • Bronx Climate Justice North
  • Catholic Divestment Network
  • Chicago Water Protectors
  • Climate Justice at Boston College
  • Climate Reality Project Southern CT Chapter
  • Climate Revolution Orlando
  • Ecocentric Media
  • Englewood Indivisible
  • Florida Indigenous Rights and Environmental Equality
  • Fridays For Future Sacramento
  • Global Warming Education Network (GWEN)
  • Great Plains Zen Center
  • Greenbelt Climate Action Network
  • International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee
  • Lexington Global Warming Action Coalition
  • Liology Institute
  • Mass Interfaith Worker Justice
  • Mid Ohio Valley Climate Action
  • Mid-Hudson Valley Sunrise Movement
  • Moms Clean Air Force
  • Movement for a People’s Party
  • North American Climate, Conservation and Environment (NACCE)
  • North Bronx Racial Justice
  • NYCD16 Indivisible
  • Open Source Healing
  • Orange County for Climate Action
  • Our Green Challenge
  • Parents For Future Seattle
  • Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC)
  • Re-nourish
  • Redwood Campaign Advisors
  • Refuge Ministries of Tampa Bay International
  • RESTORE: The North Woods
  • Santa Cruz Climate Action Network
  • Shoegnome Architects
  • South Beach District 6 Democratic Club of San Francisco
  • South Beach District 6 Democratic Club of San Francisco
  • earth
  • Sunrise Movement of Howard County
  • Sustainne, LLC
  • Teens Against Pollution
  • The Clime
  • Touching Earth Sangha
  • Volcano Rainforest Retreat
  • We, the World

 

Report to the PDA Action Alert Team: Key Outcomes of the 2019 Legislative Session

Hi, Everybody,

I want to begin by giving a huge thank you to everyone for all your email and phone messages urging our legislators to support legislation of importance to the progressive community. It is heartening to receive feedback from legislators agreeing with our sentiments.  Sure, there were the occasional responses disagreeing with our requests, but that just added evidence that they hear us and know that they have to deal with us.

There was a boatload of progressive legislation this year, as was expected because of the increase in number of progressive legislators.  We ended up following about one hundred bills, memorials, and joint resolutions.  About 60 of those were scheduled for committee hearings, and you emailed or called committee members about them.  Because of the progressive trend in the Legislature and the support of the governor’s office, much of the legislation of importance to us passed.  There were exceptions, often caused by conservative Democrats joining with Republicans to defeat good bills.

Both the good and the bad are discussed below:

  • This legislature was finally able to pass a bill for a State Ethics Commission (SB 668).  This bi- or multi-partisan commission receives and investigates complaints against public officials and employees, government contractors and lobbyists.
  • Renewable energy, climate crisis:
    • SB 489, the Energy Transition Act, passed.  It includes strong Renewable Portfolio Standards with a target of, among other things, zero carbon dioxide emissions from retail sales of electricity by 2045.  A disappointment was that this Act also included a provision for the costs of abandoning the current, fossil fueled generating plants to be borne solely by the public, rather than sharing those costs by the public and by the shareholders of the plant owners.
    • SB 518, New Solar Market Development Tax Credit, passed overwhelmingly in the Senate, had passed its last committee in the House, but never got a vote on the House floor.  Another casualty of more bills to consider than time to hear them for a floor vote.
    • HB 210, Community Solar Act, passed the House but didn’t make it through the Senate committee process in time to be heard on the Senate floor.  This bill would have established requirements for community solar systems that subscribers could use to meet their energy needs.  A community solar system would supply its power to the public utility serving the area, which would bill subscribers at rates determined by the Public Regulation Commission.
  • Health care:
    • HB 416 and SB 405, Medicaid Buy-In, to allow members of the public to participate in Medicaid by paying the costs, was tabled in House Appropriations while the Senate worked on the budget.  There is $142,000 in the budget for the “study and administrative development of the Medicaid Buy-In plan.”  This allows HSD to prepare to implement the Medicaid Buy-In, including seeking federal waivers to receive federal financing.
    • HB 308, Dental Therapists, passed.
    • SB 337, Surprise Billing Protection Act, passed unanimously.
    • HB 436, Align Health Insurance Law with Federal Law, passed.  This bill amends sections of the NM law governing Insurance plans to include many of the provisions of the ACA, such as prohibiting denial of coverage of pre-existing conditions, prohibiting charging higher premiums for disability, and eliminating co-pays for preventive services.
    • HB 88 and SB 101 to establish a Health Care Value and Access Commission did not progress in the respective committees, but money was allocated in the budget to work towards the goals of these bills:
      • Health Care Value and Access Commission: $275,000 to set up a commission that will review and make recommendations on the ways health care is currently being provided in New Mexico.
      • All Payers Database:  $900,000 to set up a much needed statewide database to track, in accordance with privacy laws, medical procedure usage rates, cost, outcomes and more to give the state data that it currently does not have and needs to better support positive health care outcomes.
    • SB 279 and HB 295, Health Security Act, also died in both House and Senate committees.  HM 92, Health Security Plan Analysis, passed the House and there is $389,000 in the budget for Legislative Finance to complete a fiscal analysis of the Health Security Act, which is the first step needed before implementing the Act.
  • Permanent funds for early childhood:  HJR 1 passed the House, but died in the Senate Finance Committee.  A replacement, SB 671, backed by the governor, also died in the Senate Finance Committee.
  • Voting rights:
    • SB 672, Early & Auto Voter Registration, passed. It combined earlier bills HB 84 and HB 86 to provide for voter registration at early voting sites, at polling places on election day, and to provide for automatic voter registration at Motor Vehicle Department offices as well as some other offices subject to negotiation.
    • HB 57, Restore Felon Voting rights, died in committee.
    • HB 55, National Popular Vote, passed.  This bill commits New Mexico to join a compact of states that agree to assign their electoral college votes to the winner of the national popular vote, whether or not the state itself voted for the winner of the national popular vote.
  • Increasing minimum wage:  Several bills with differing increases in the minimum wage failed, but were replaced by SB 437, Raise Minimum Wage & Create Separate One, and was passed.  This bill, as introduced, would have raised the minimum wage to 11 dollars per hour by 2022.  It was amended to raise it to 12 dollars per hour by 2022, and to cost of living increases thereafter.  The bill also provides for a minimum wage of $8.50 for students in secondary schools working outside of school hours.
  • Increasing salaries of state employees:  A section of HB 2, General Appropriation Action of 2019, increases the salaries of state employees by an average of 4 percent, except that the salaries for teachers are increased by at least 6%.  HB 2 passed.
  • Reducing small loan interest rates to 36%:  HB 22, HB 375, and HB 386 were either not scheduled for hearing or died in committee.
  • Right to work laws:  HB 85, Union Security Agreements, passed.  This bill precludes local governments from adopting or continuing in effect laws that prohibit agreements requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment; i.e., this bill prohibits local governments from establishing so-called right to work laws.
  • Raising income taxes for high earners:  HB 6, Tax Changes, includes a provision to increase the rates for high earners.  For example, married couples filing joint returns will pay income taxes at a rate of 5.9% for earnings in excess of $315,000. HB 6 passed.
  • Background checks for firearm sales:  SB 8, Firearm Sale Background Check, passed and was signed by the governor.
  • Decriminalizing abortion:  HB 51, Decriminalize Abortion, passed the House but failed in the Senate.
  • Gender equality:  SB 25, No Differential Pricing Based On Gender, passed.
  • Decriminalizing recreational use of marijuana:  HB 356, Cannabis Regulation Act, passed the House, but died in the Senate Finance Committee.
  • Hemp:  HB 581, Hemp Manufacturing Act, passed.  This bill allows and regulates production, testing, research, and manufacturing of hemp products.
  • Healthy soil act:  HB 204 passed.
  • Public banking:  HM 41, Study State-Owned Bank, passed its only scheduled committee hearing, but was not considered on the House floor.
  • School ratings:  SB 229, School Support & Accountability Act, passed.  This bill repeals the A-B-C-D-F schools rating act, to be replaced by criteria developed by the Legislative Education Study Committee.

If you want to check the status of other bills of interest, or to see if the governor has signed bills, go here.

Until next year,

Pat Bartels, Laura Stokes, and Paul Stokes

Have you experienced “Surprise Medical Billing”? Your stories are needed!

Rep. Nathan Small has introduced SB 207, the Surprise Billing Protection Act to protect consumers from this unfair billing practice. If you have a story to tell please send it to PAIGE.DUHAMEL@state.nm.us in the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance who is in support of this bill.

Surprise medical billing occurs when an insured person is treated by an out-of-network provider that the patient had no role in choosing.  This occurs most frequently in medical emergencies or major surgery situations when an insured person is treated 1) at an in-network facility for a medical or behavioral  emergency and services are provided by ancillary out-of-network providers (surgeon, radiologist, anesthesiologist, pathologist) or 2) patient receives in-patient surgery by an out-of-network provider (physician or ancillary providers) without consent of insured person and is hospitalized  or 3) with elective inpatient admissions at in-network facilities.

These surprise bills can be quite large. Patients may receive bills from multiple providers. One study showed that ambulance rides were billed out-of-network roughly half of the time.

The goals of the bill are to:

1)    Limit the amount billed for out-of- network emergency room care to what the patient would owe an in-network provider,

2)    Limit the amount billed for major surgery costs provided by out-of-network providers to what the patient would owe an in-network provider,

3)    Advise emergency patients that they could run up excess charges if they are in an out-of- network hospital; obtain statement signed by patient that they have been told and understand

4)    Eliminate “Balance Billing” or the ability of a provider to bill a covered person for the difference between the provider’s billed charges and the amount allowed by the insurance plan.  Payment disputes would be resolved by physicians and insurance and not involve consumers.

* The New Mexican Patient Protection Act allows insurers to bill only what a patient would owe an in-network provider for out-of-network emergency care.

There have been other efforts to regulate health care plans to mitigate surprise billing, including a bill introduced in Congress in 2017 by now Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, “The Fair Billing Act of 2017.” Without federal legislation, states are stepping forward to regulate plans themselves.  Other considerations are to establish legislative guidelines for out-of-network providers to seek more payment from insurance carriers based on a formula set up by either state rules or through a federal formula.

PDACNM NEWSLETTER May 17, 2018 – EMERGENCY ACTIONS

 

FARM BILL VOTE THIS WEEK!!!!!

VOTE ON FARM BILL IMMINENT.  WE UNDERSTAND REP. MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM IS TO VOTE NO!  BUT WE DON’T KNOW WHERE REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN STANDS ON THIS VOTE.  Please call his office and ask him to vote no for the reasons below:

Rep. Ben Ray Luján:  DC office – (202) 225-6190; Rio Rancho – (505) 994-0499

Please thank Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham for her no vote.  DC office – (202) 225-6316; ABQ office – (505) 346-6781

Farm Bill: Republicans Want to Cut Food Assistance & MORE!
  • What’s the issue: The Farm Bill was last passed in 2013, and it must be reauthorized every five years. It’s a $100 billion legislative package that covers everything from farm subsidies and agricultural programs to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps). Typically, it is a bipartisan exercise-but in April, Republicans passed a partisan bill out of committee that takes away food assistance from people (over two million people could be kicked out of the program) and instead funds unproven, unscalable job training programs that will leave people hungry.
  • What to expect: The House is expected to vote on the Farm Bill the week of May 14; it will probably pass with few or no Democratic votes. The Senate will take it up after that; it’s likely they will start from scratch with their own version.
  • Bottom line: Only a few months after voting to give trillions in tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, House Republicans are back to make life worse for families who rely on federal food assistance. The House vote in mid-May will only be the start of this fight; we’ll keep you updated as it goes forward.
Links to info about Farm Bill:
 Farm and Ranch Freedon  Here
Sierra Club here
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy here
AgMag here
Here are six strikes against H.R. 2, the Agricultural and Nutrition Act of 2018:
  1. The Rich Get Richer – The House farm bill creates new loopholes that further tilt farm subsidies toward the largest, most successful farm businesses and away from small family farmers. The bill would allow cousins, nieces and nephews of farmers to receive subsidies even if they don’t live or work on the farm. A recent report by the Department of Agriculture found that the share of subsidies claimed by the biggest farms has tripled since 1991, and H.R. 2 would make this problem worse.
  2. The Poor Get Poorer – The same bill that enriches the largest and most successful farmers will also cause more than 1 million low-income households – more than 2 million people, including working families with children – to lose their food-assistance benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or have them reduced. The bill includes unworkable job training requirements that will place new burdens on states and leave many poor Americans without food assistance.
  3. Drinking Water Gets Dirtier – The House farm bill cuts conservation spending by $800 million, including programs designed to protect drinking water from farm pollution. Although the bill includes some reforms, these provisions are outweighed by proposed cuts and new pesticide safety loopholes.
  4. Diets Get Less Healthy – While the House farm bill increases funding for SNAP recipients who shop at farmers markets, the bill eliminates funding for other programs that help finance farmers markets and help farmers build local markets for healthy products. The bill also cuts funding for programs that help organic farmers.
  5. Rural America Gets Left Behind – At the very same moment Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was hosting a conference on the importance of broadband internet to rural America, the House Agriculture Committee was voting to cut USDA rural development funding by more than $500 million. The House bill also cuts funding from programs to help farmers produce more renewable energy.
  6. States Get Sidelined – The House farm bill included a sweeping amendment from Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, that would broadly preempt state and local food and farm laws, including food safety and food labeling laws. Although intended to block a new California animal welfare law, the King amendment would wipe away thousands of state and local laws regulating everything from invasive pests to fishing.

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PDA CNM DIGEST May 17, 2018

Sierra Club – NM Legislative Update


The 2018 New Mexico legislative session is in full swing, and I know you want to know about the legislation that protects or threatens our climate, water, land and wildlife.

Below is a primer on priority environmental legislation. Please join our legislative listserv if you’d like action alerts during the session, and see the box at right for a great opportunity to get involved in Environment Day at the Roundhouse.

Pro-environment legislation

Solar tax credits (House Bills 36 and 87, Senate Bill 79) These bills take slightly different approaches to restoring the tax credit for New Mexico businesses and residents who install solar on their rooftops, up to 10%. It is a proven job-creator and boosts the solar industry. 

Energy-storage tax credit (HB77): This bill credits up to 30% of the purchase and installation cost of qualified storage systems, up to $5,000 for residents and $75,000 for businesses.

Funds for non-diversion Gila River projects (HB127 and SB72): These bills would earmark some of the funds currently slated for a $1 billion Gila River diversion project to go instead toward water-saving non-diversion projects in southwestern New Mexico counties.

Renewable energy on state buildings (SB7)Sen. Jeff Steinborn’s bill to install renewable energy on state buildings where it is economically feasible passed the Legislature with support from both parties but was vetoed by the governor. 

Anti-environment legislation

Keeping Coal Plants Alive (HB72)Rep. Paul Bandy’s bill would encourage the sale of coal-fired power plants for a dollar — perhaps to generators who could continue to operate these polluting facilities after New Mexico utilities have found them uneconomical. It also excludes the Public Regulation Commission from having any say in the transfer.

PNM’s Energy Redevelopment Bond (HB80) PNM must make significant commitments to the community, ratepayers and renewable energy to make this legislation — basically a state-backed bond to cover remaining debt after the San Juan coal plant closes — a positive investment rather than a bailout for PNM. 

Seizure of public lands (SB134) Sen. Cliff Pirtle’s bill demands that federal public land be transferred to the state and develops a committee to make that happen.

We are tracking many, many other bills that affect our climate, water, land and wildlife. To keep track and get action alerts, please join our legislative listserv and come to Environment Day at the Legislature on Feb. 1 (please see box for details). Write to riogrande.chapter@sierraclub.org for more information. 

Thank you for taking action and for all you do for New Mexico’s environment!

David Coss, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter chair

To learn more about the work of the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter, visit our website and our Facebook page.

 

Here’s what you did at the Legislature!

roundhouse

A big thank you is due to the Action Alert team of 50 people, who sent emails or made calls to members of committees hearing legislation that PDA CNM either supported or opposed. Sixty-four “blasts” were sent during the legislative session notifying team members that legislation of interest was scheduled to be heard. Over 8000 messages of support or opposition, as the case may be, were sent to members of committees hearing the legislation. Thus, an average of about 130 messages to legislators for each blast were sent! That sounds like success to me!

Aside from the unfortunate situation the state finds itself in regarding the budget, the most prominent issues in the Legislature were crime & punishment and certain social issues, such as abortion, raised by Republicans, and schools, tax relief, increased wages, and jobs for working people addressed by Democrats. Also prominent were the driver’s license/Real ID matter, and ethics legislation. This was a Legislature in which the important results were that many issues of interest to Republicans were killed in the Senate, and many issues of interest to Democrats were killed in the House. We’ll see how much legislation that survived will also survive the veto pen.

There were, of course, many other issues of interest as well. Here is a listing of the actions taken on bills that we were following:

Crime and Punishment

HB 56, Three strikes law – killed in Senate.
HB 29, Allow local government curfew ordinances – killed in Senate
HB 95, Hate crimes against law enforcement – died in Senate
Other bills related to increased penalties were introduced, some of which were not germane

Driver’s Licenses

Several bills to prevent undocumented immigrants from driving failed
HB 99, the original of which would have prevented undocumented immigrants from driving, was amended in the Senate to provide a two-tier system that does not prevent undocumented immigrants from driving.

Schools

HB 67, School grade retention & reading plans – killed in Senate
HJR 10, Permanent funds for early childhood – died in House
SB 14, Teacher & principal minimum salary increases – died in Senate
SJR 2, Permanent funds for childhood education – died in Senate
SJR 3, Permanent fund annual distributions – died in House

Economy

HB 75, Cannabis revenue & freedom act – not scheduled
HB 148, Industrial help research – not scheduled
SB 3, Research on industrial hemp – not scheduled
Also HB 26 and SB 13 listed under Energy/Environment – died in respective chambers

Taxes and Salaries

Several bills on salary increases not scheduled
HB 61, Accounts for persons with disabilities act – passed both chambers
HB 79, Working families tax credit & gains deduction – died In House
HB 125, Increase minimum wage – not scheduled
HB 126, Reduce certain income tax rates (for low incomes) – died in House
HB 154, Increase minimum wage ($15) – not scheduled
HB 200, Public works prevailing wage & projects – killed in Senate
HB 211, Employment preemption & minimum wage – withdrawn
HB 255, New higher income bracket – not scheduled
HB 292, Modify personal income tax brackets & rates – died in House
HB 323, Raise minimum wage ($10.10) – not scheduled
SB 152, Minimum salary for certain school personnel ($15) – died in Senate
SB 236, State employee minimum wage – not scheduled
SB 237, State employee & contractor minimum wage – not scheduled
SJR 18, State minimum wage – died in Senate

Ethics

HB 80, State ethics commission act – not scheduled
HB 105, Electronic campaign reporting – passed both chambers
HB 96, No pension for convicted public officials – not scheduled
HJR 1, Independent redistricting commission – died in House
HJR 2, All qualified electors registered to vote – not scheduled
HJR 5, Independent ethics commission, killed in Senate
SB 2, Automatic driver’s license voter registration – not scheduled
SB 11, Campaign finance reporting requirements – died in House

Energy/Environment

HB 26, Solar market development tax credit changes – died in House
SB 13, Solar market development tax credit changes – died in Senate

Gun Control

HB 51, Firearm transfer act – not scheduled
HB 336, Comprehensive criminal records database (applicable to gun background checks) – passed both chambers

Social Issues

HB 84, Small loan interest rate caps – not scheduled
HB 230, Rape kit testing and analysis – died in House
HB 275, Require medical care for all infants (abortion-related) – not scheduled
HB 312, Change certain voter ID requirements (photo voter ID) – died in House
HJR 11, Limit certain interest rates – not scheduled
HJR 13, Denial of bail to certain defendants – died in House
SB 17, DNA evidence kit analysis – died in Senate
SB 132, Student loan repayment for some students (minorities, advanced degrees) – killed in House
SB 242, Late-term abortion ban – not scheduled
SB 243, Partial birth abortion ban – not scheduled
SB 269, Employee preference act (Right to Work for less) – not scheduled
SJR 1, Denial of bail for certain felonies (this one also does not allow detaining of defendants for lack of ability to pay bail) – passed both chambers
SJR 5, Use & tax of marijuana & revenue – failed on Senate floor
SJR 12, Constitutional convention for corporations – died in Senate