Hot legislation for 2014 to create a secure water & climate future!

Make your voice heard by contacting your State Senator and Representative to ask them to support bills for a secure water and climate future or to oppose bills that threaten your future!   Your contacting them by writing a letter, making a phone call or testifying at a committee hearing can make a difference!

To get started here are some tips.  First of all, Find your legislator (click here)! Next, click on the bills below to find more information, particularly if there is a “Fiscal Impact Report” which provides a background on what the bill does.  Then, contact your legislators on the issues you care about using phone, email, or simply dropping a letter or even a hand-written note at the legislators office.

Hot bills for 2014 in the New Mexico Legislature!

Here are some bills you might consider supporting or opposing after you have looked at the bills and issues.  Thanks to Conservation Voters NM for some of this information (click here for CVNM’s great website that tracks some of these bills and others that affect the environment).  

Capital Outlay requests for $1 million for solarizing Santa Fe County Fire Stations 

As of Thursday, Feb. 20, the House of Representatives passed a capital outlay bill that includes $182,000.  This bill went to the Senate and it was approved there.  Now the request goes to Governor Martinez for her signature or line-item veto.

HB 72: Shared Renewable Energy Special Mortgages (Gonzales) – It appears that this bill never got past the House Rules & Order of Business Committee

This bill would make it easier for low-income households to participate in shared renewable energy sources by providing special-access mortgage (loans) for people eligible for New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority.  The bill may be a positive step towards helping people access power from renewable sources and reduce the reliance on coal-fired power plants.  See CVNM’s analysis by clicking here.

SB 16: Water Harvesting Income Tax Credit (Wirth) – This bill passed Senate Conservation Committee and Senate Corporations Committee but died without a hearing at Senate Finance (chaired by John Arthur Smith)

This bill provides people who install a certified water harvesting system a tax credit up to 20% of the purchase and installation cost of the system but more than $5,000.  A “water harvesting system” is defined as a “system that is designed to provide for the collection of rainwater or snowmelt from the rooftop of a building and is capable of storing the rainwater or snowmelt for future use.”  The bill is positive in that it encourages taxpayers to buy and install water harvesting systems which helps reduce demand on groundwater and rivers.

SB 77: Inter-basin Water Rights Transfers (Keller) – This bill didn’t get a hearing in the first committee it was assigned to Senate Committees.  

This bill requires anyone trying to transfer water from one watershed to another watershed to apply for a permit from the Office of the State Engineer (OSE). The OSE will have to evaluate if the use of the water outside the watershed of origin will hurt existing water rights and if contrary to water conservation.  The bill may be positive in that it places additional scrutiny on efforts to transfer water out of its place of origin so that water stays near it’s home basin/watershed and make sure that water is adequate in surface and groundwater to maintain the springs, wells, and rivers where the water comes from.

SB 80: Exempt Humate Mines from Mining Act (Munoz) – This bill had the anti-conservation language removed (now there is no exemption among other concerns that were addressed) from it after conservation groups negotiated with the mining industry to improve the bill.  It passed the Senate and House and goes to Gov. Martinez for her signature.  

The original bill would make certain mines exempt (don’t have to follow existing rules) from the New Mexico mining rules.  The focus is on mines that extract humates (a type of soil conditioner) that comes from the breakdown of plant and animal life several million years ago.  The bill would also remove a requirement that mines apply to not have to post a bond to guarantee that the mine owner reclaim a mine.  This bill raises a worry that land disturbed by humate mines would not be reclaimed.  Click here for the analysis by the Conservation Voters of New Mexico. 

SB 89: Unit Fund for Certain Water Supply Needs (Wirth) – This bill died after receiving a tie vote on the Senate Conservation Committee (all democrats voted for it except Sen. Phil Griego and Sen. Richard Martinez who joined republicans in voting against it).  This year is an important one for the Gila in which the Interstate Stream Commission must make a decision whether to divert the Gila by the end of this year.  

This bill relates to the Gila River by instructing the Interstate Stream Commission to spend the funding that New Mexico received from the federal government for the AZ Water Settlement Act on non-diversion alternatives such as forest and watershed restoration and improvement; municipal conservation; agricultural conservation; infrastructure improvements; effluent reuse; and sustainable ground water use.  Passage of this bill would significantly improve the chance that the Gila River, the last wild river that is undammed in the West, would not have a dam or diversion placed on it.

Other Senate bills that you might be interested in are ~~

SB 91: Water Catchment System Financing District Act (Wirth)