New Mexico First Blog

2017 Legislative Session Policy Victories

Now that the 2017 Legislative Session has concluded, and as of Friday the Governor has completed her signing deadline, New Mexico First is pleased to announce that your voice for smart, bipartisan policy played an influential role in this year’s session. Our public policy organization promotes recommendations developed by citizens during our town halls and forums. This year, New Mexico First supported or informed legislative efforts on economy, ethics reform, water and education.


The 2016 Economic Security and Vitality Town Hall, attended by over 200 people, produced a set of consensus recommendations that included, border trade, tax reform, support for small, rural and tribal businesses, workforce and economic development, economic security for families, and broadband access.

Economic Security for Families

New Mexico First led the effort to pass SJM18 FAMILY SUPPORT SERVICES INFO TO LFC (“cliff effect memorial”). This memorial is one of the major consensus recommendation that came from our economy town hall. The memorial requires state agencies that oversee family support services to provide the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) with eligibility thresholds and related information for participation in safety net programs. Information will later be used to recommend how to smooth cliff effects for at least child care support services. We are grateful to Sen. Ortiz y Pino and Rep. Jason Harper for their bipartisan sponsorship of this legislation. PASSED BOTH CHAMBERS UNANIMOUSLY 

Additional legislation addressing family needs included:

  • HB 86: CAREGIVER LEAVE ACT: Requires that all employees of public and private entities within the state be allowed to use accrued sick leave to care for family members. PASSED LEGISLATURE, VETOED
  • HB147: WORKFORCE TRAINING RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT: Amends the residency requirement to participate in the Industrial Development Training Program (i.e. JTIP) from one year to one day, thus improving access to job training for people seeking employment – including those who have relocated to New Mexico recently. The bill also grows the potential workforce for employers. PASSED LEGISLATURE, SIGNED BY GOVERNOR


The economy town hall called for reform to expand broadband access statewide, including in rural and tribal areas. New Mexico First endorsed several bills aligned to this goal:

  • HB60: BROADBAND INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT: Amends Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) to allow those funds to be used for increasing access to broadband when used for economic development purposes. PASSED, SIGNED BY GOVERNOR

Tax and Regulation

Economy town hall participants also called for comprehensively restructuring the tax code, based on a sound research effort. HB 191-Oil and Gas School Tax to Stabilization Reserve requires the Interim Revenue Stabilization and Tax Committee to continue to study tax reform proposals from the 2017 session and make recommendations regarding reforming the Gross Receipts Tax (GRT). HB191-OIL AND GAS SCHOOL TAX TO STABILIZATION RESERVE PASSED, VETOED

Additional tax and regulation legislation included:

  • HB 202: TAX OF BUSINESSES WITHOUT PHYSICAL PRESENCE: Expands reach of New Mexico gross receipts tax to some vendors outside New Mexico who sell products, including selling products over the internet, thus enabling the state to earn taxes on some internet sales (like most other states do). PASSED, VETOED
  • HB58: RULEMAKING REQUIREMENTS: Provides a detailed, uniform process for state agencies to process and adopt rules and regulations. PASSED, SIGNED BY GOVERNOR

Ethics Reform

New Mexico First conducted a series of focus groups about the pros and cons of establishing an ethics commission to oversee New Mexico governmental officials. The background report on ethics commission options, as well as the summarized findings of the five focus groups, inform many of the conversations about bill alternatives during the legislative session. The option calling for a constitutional amendment is the solution that ultimately passed:

  • HJR 8: STATE ETHICS COMMISSION: This joint resolution proposes an amendment to Article 5 of the constitution of New Mexico to create an independent state ethics commission with jurisdiction to investigate and issue advisory opinions and exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate civil violations of laws governing standards of conduct. Authority would include campaigns of elected and appointed members of the legislature and executive branch, as well as legislative and executive branch state officers and employees, government contractors and lobbyists. PASSED, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT, GOES TO VOTERS

Water and Agriculture

New Mexico First continued to follow legislation related to the 2014 water town hall as well as our collaboration on agricultural resilience. Specific legislation includes:

  • HM27: RESILIENCE IN NM AGRICULTURE TASK FORCE: With support from multiple stakeholders, New Mexico First authored House Memorial 27 asking policymakers to support the Resilience in New Mexico Agriculture, which is developing strategies to overcome challenges facing New Mexico agriculture. The memorial expresses support and endorsement for the projects one-year task force. The task force is developing recommendations and strategies that support New Mexico agriculture in meeting present and future challenges. PASSED
  • HB 24: STATE TRUST LANDS RESTORATION FUND: Creates the State Trust Lands Restoration and Remediation Fund to administer efforts to reduce surface damage as well as conduct forest and watershed restoration projects on state trust lands. PASSED, SIGNED BY GOVERNOR


The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the primary law governing K‐12 education in the United States. The federal law requires states to submit a plan for how they will implement new regulations, and the plan must be informed by the engagement of a wide array of stakeholders from across the state. In Fall 2016, the New Mexico Public Education Department partnered with New Mexico First to facilitate a series of 19 meetings in six communities throughout the state, including tribal convenings. The goal was to solicit input about how New Mexico's future ESSA plan could best support student learning, family engagement, educators, schools and all New Mexico communities.

Policy outcomes that, in part, address community inputs include:

  • The New Mexico Public Education Department recently announced that they are revamping the teacher evaluation system, reducing the weight of student test results from 50 percent to 35 percent and doubling the number of sick days available without penalty to better support student learning. (Many participants addressed student test results and sick day penalties during the community meetings.)

  • HB340: EDUCATION STRATEGIC PLANNING TASK FORCE: Creates an Education Strategic Planning Task Force to develop a 20-year strategic plan for education from early childhood through college graduation; creates advisory panels of experts, advocates, parents, students and others to aid the task force. PASSED THE HOUSE, REFERRED TO SENATE RULES COMMITTEE



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