Letter To The Editor: Recapping the 2015 Legislative Session

Letter to the Editor

Letter To The Editor:

Recapping the 2015 Legislative Session

 

By FRED NATHAN, Executive Director

Think New Mexico

 

Dear Friends,

During the past two months, New Mexicans from every corner of the state sent 6,258 emails through Think New Mexico’s website, and legislators listened.

As a result, when the 2015 legislative session wrapped up on Saturday, Think New Mexico had successfully achieved 4 of the 5 goals we worked toward during the session:

Health Care Transparency Passed
As we reported to you on Friday, the bill to create a public website with health care cost and quality information has reached the Governor’s desk and we are optimistic that she will sign it.

Lottery Scholarship Raid Stopped
We prevailed in the fight to stop the bill that would have repealed the requirement that a minimum of 30% of lottery revenues be dedicated to scholarships.
In the end, your voices spoke louder than the seven lobbyists representing the lottery vendors and retailers. During the final committee hearing on the bill, Representative Roybal-Caballero read aloud to the committee one of the poignant emails she received from a current UNM student asking her to vote against the legislation (which she did).

Food Tax Prevented
It was deja vu all over again when Senate Bill 274 was introduced to reimpose the food tax. As you may recall, together we successfully prevented efforts to reimpose the food tax in both 2010 and 2013.
The good news is that, although this year’s bill to tax groceries passed its first Senate committee (in a vote taken without a public hearing), that was as far as it got — it was sent to a second committee from which it never emerged. Many legislators remarked to us about the avalanche of emails they received on this issue.

Business Portal Funded
Last year, Think New Mexico successfully championed the enactment of an efficient, one-stop online portal for all business fees and filings with state agencies. The portal will make New Mexico friendlier to small businesses and start-ups.
This year, the budget the Legislature sent to the Governor included $400,000 to create that portal, which will be live no later than July 1, 2017.

Bill to Attract Entrepreneurial STEM Students Runs Out of Time
Unfortunately, House Bill 481 ran out of time awaiting a vote on the Senate Floor in the final hours of the session. This bill proposed to allow the state’s public universities to charge in-state tuition to international and out-of-state STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) students. These students would fill empty seats in higher level STEM classes and increase New Mexico’s pool of potential entrepreneurs.
We were encouraged that House Bill 481 passed two House committees and one Senate committee on unanimous votes, as well as the House by a vote of 61-4, and we plan to bring it back next year.

Thank you for sticking with us through the ups and downs of this year’s legislative session, and we hope you are as pleased as we are with what we have achieved together.

Fred, Kristina, Othiamba, and Jennifer
Think New Mexico