LET’S PUT PEOPLE BEFORE POLITICS
As a citizen legislator, my priority is to work with you to create a state government that puts people before politics and guarantees you have a voice in the Roundhouse. In my three terms of service, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and listening to so many of you share your priorities and ideas for making life better for all of us here in northern New Mexico. The accomplishments we talk about on this page are not mine — they’re ours, directly shaped by your calls, emails and ideas. Together we have made real progress on the issues that directly affect our lives and community.
As a materials science researcher, I’ve seen firsthand how high tech jobs and businesses can grow a sustainable, vibrant economy like almost nothing else. With the presence of multiple major scientific research institutions here in our state, a great climate and a unique way of life, northern New Mexico is ideally poised to become the Silicon Valley of the Southwest.
The legislature has an obligation to New Mexicans to help provide a more sustainable and secure place to live and work. We are working to build a more robust broadband infrastructure with accessibility to high speed Internet, critical to tele-medicine, education, and business opportunities. Sadly, New Mexico is currently fourth to last in Internet speeds in the nation, which is why I sponsored two bills during the 2017 Regular Session to help promote investment in broadband infrastructure in our state. HB60, known as the ‘dig once’ bill, will expedite new broadband infrastructure in both urban and rural areas. The bill was one of the first signed into law by the Governor during the session. Governor Martinez also signed HB57/SB53, which modernizes our Telecommunications Act, into law. The old law, originally passed in 1985, left New Mexico severely behind by creating barriers to investment in new technologies.
In 2013, I successfully sponsored HB401, which makes it easier for high tech industries like software development & renewable energy storage to relocate to New Mexico. These clean, sustainable businesses grow our economy, bring good paying jobs to our communities, and protect our environment at the same time. In addition, during the 2013 session, in a bipartisan effort supported by Think New Mexico, Rep. Tom Taylor and our Campaign for Change successfully co-sponsored and passed HB194, a bill that makes it easier for start-ups who want to provide more energy efficient and innovative transportation alternatives by removing the current monopoly enjoyed by taxicab companies throughout the state. (For a great short documentary on how the green energy economy is putting people to work right now, including in New Mexico, visit .)
PEOPLE BEFORE POLITICS
As a citizen legislator, a lot of my focus is on listening to and representing your priorities on the big issues of the day — education, the environment, and the economy – but it is also about investing directly into our community.
Of course, if we’re going to create more high tech jobs here in New Mexico, we need to prepare people to succeed at those jobs. That’s why in 2013 we successfully sponsored HB17, which provides funding for programs that offer our high school students additional access to programs that develop their computing and science job skills.
Maintaining college opportunities for our New Mexico students is important to many of us. This is why I sponsored HB237 this year to utilize a portion of the excise tax collected on liquor sales to supplement the Lottery Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships for New Mexico students attending NM Universities, and to increase distributions of the local DWI grant fund. Despite it not passing, I remain committed to finding a solution that addresses student tuition assistance falling from 90% to 60% financial support. Educational is key to our success and I pledge to find sustainability to our lottery scholarship fund.
We have a serious substance abuse problem in America, and it’s particularly severe in northern New Mexico. We need to support early prevention and mentorship programs that are tailored to fit the individual communities that are hardest hit by substance abuse. Prevention programs aren’t one size fits all, and what works in Albuquerque might not work in Espanola or Chimayo. During the 2014 session, our Campaign for Change successfully sponsored HB16, increasing the percentage of existing liquor tax revenue to DWI Grant Fund (an increase of 6.5 million dollars over the next three years), which assists counties with DWI education, prevention and intervention. Those businesses in our community who make a profit from selling alcohol need to be paying their fair share for the damage that drunk driving does to our communities.
I’m honored to be able to invest a lot of time and resources in projects and legislation that strengthen our communities and make northern New Mexico a better place for all of us to live. One of the projects our Campaign for Change is most proud of is the purchase and the soon-to-be renovation of the youth sports fields in Pojoaque (formerly known as the Little League Fields). These fields were in a bad state of disrepair, making it difficult and unsafe for our kids to play on them. Working with the Pojoaque Valley School Board, Santa Fe County and the state, we were able to purchase the fields and finance the renovation of the fields so they can be used by our kids again. A very special thank you to Rep. Brian Egolf, Rep. Debbie Rodella and Sen. Carlos Sisneros for contributing a portion of their allocated capital outlay funds to make this happen. This is the kind of positive change that can happen when we all work together to make our community better.
One of our shared priorities as a community is to protect our environment. Our water, our air, our wilderness and wildlife are key to our health and our future, and we have an ethical and moral responsibility to protect them, to be stewards of the planet for the sake of our communities and our children’s future.
We must encourage sustainable development with strong green building practices that are specific to the needs of our community. 68% of homes in New Mexico were built prior to 1990 when building codes didn’t emphasize energy efficiency and water conservation. “Building green” can have significant up-front costs and can price a lot of people out of home ownership. That’s why during the 2013 session, Sen. Peter Wirth and I co-sponsored the Sustainable Green Building Tax Credit (SB14), which extended the sustainable energy tax credit for homeowners. SB14 has been so successful that $15 million of the allocated funds was spent in the first year. During the 2013 session, we also sponsored a request for cleanup of Area G at LANL (HJM5). This clean-up request, which was approved by the House, will help to safeguard our water supply and our environment while creating sustainable local jobs. During the 2014 session, our Campaign for Change sponsored HB124, which would have offered tax credits of up to $3800 for homeowners who wanted to expand, renovate, or simply make their homes more energy and water efficient.
Too often, water rights are used as political bargaining chips and currency in backroom political sweetheart deals and favors — and when water is life, that kind of political game playing is dangerous and unacceptable in our community.
In 2013, we successfully sponsored a memorial requiring all governmental agencies to work together to install a proactive plan to protect the watersheds that feed the San Juan/Chama project (HJM24), which is the source of a significant amount of Santa Fe’s city water. A second successful memorial requests funding to heighten the Santa Cruz Dam to accommodate more water storage (SJM6, co-sponsored with Sen. Richard Martinez). Both of these memorials help our Congressional delegation secure federal dollars for these projects. We’ve also worked extensively with local acequias to create a fairer system for capital outlay funding that allocates money to each acequia in equal rotation. This system means that each acequia is treated equally and ends the political game playing with our local water system.
Many members of our communities care deeply about animal welfare; this is why I sponsored HB123 in 2017, a bill that would have created a sustainable source for the low cost statewide dog and cat spay/neuter program. The bill was a response to a report that our local governments and shelters spend more than $37 million annually on animal control and euthanize more than 70,000 dogs and cats statewide, annually. The bill would have provided for 8,000 to 10,000 low cost dog and cat spay/neuters annually, thus helping control the animal population instead of euthanizing.
Click here to listen to a recent podcast where I discuss HB123 on Animal Talk:
During the 2013 session, we sponsored a mirror bill to Sen. Martinez’s bill that strengthened penalties for animal cruelty (HB224). In addition, I signed on as an early supporter for a bill banning unfair one-size-fits-all breed-specific regulations (HB63), and spoke out against the creation of a Horse Slaughter Facility in southern New Mexico. I also joined my colleagues in both Houses in voting to provide police dogs with protective vests (SB141), allowing retired police dogs to be adopted by their handlers or to other good homes (SB139) and creating a horse shelter rescue fund (SB274). These last three bills were all signed into law.
I am proud to serve on the Board of Directors for the Santa Fe Humane Society, and this past summer, we were honored to have our Campaign for Change named as a Protector of Animals by the Animal Protection Voters. Click here for the details and APV’s Legislative Scorecard: