Hot legislation for 2015 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!   By writing a letter, making a phone call or testifying at a committee hearing you 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 about 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 2015 in the New Mexico Legislature!

HB 113:  Energy Efficient Homes Tax CreditThis bill creates a one-time tax credit for people who buy energy efficient homes.  If passed, the bill could result in more energy efficient homes in NM and a decrease in dependence on energy generated by fossil fuels.

HB 38: Forest & Watershed Restoration Act. The bill authorizes funding for watershed and forest restoration and a public board to oversee a competitive grant process.  The bill may result in increasing restoration activities that create more healthy and resilient forests and watersheds.

SB 184: No Severance Tax Bonds in Certain Counties. Currently 14 counties and 11 cities in New Mexico have regulations on oil & gas extraction to protect the health and safety of people and the environment.  This bill would penalize any county or city that has regulations that increase the cost of oil & gas extraction by 25% or more.  The penalty would be these counties will not be able to get funding from severance tax bonds.  The bill would have a negative or chilling effect on the willingness of counties and cities in regulating oil & gas drilling and other practices that impact water such as “fracking.”

HB 12: Water Budget Rate Structures.  This bill would require public water systems to adopt and maintain a water budget rate structure that is a personalized water budget each month designed to meet the specific indoor and outdoor water needs of a water customer regardless of household or yard size.  The budget gets calculated based on the person’s landscaped area, local weather data, number of people in the home among other factors.   This bill could result in reducing excessive water use, depending on how it is enforced.  Another big question is whether the government agency who is responsible for enforcement is given enough funding to enforce it ~~ it could increase their workload significantly on top of what the agency already needs to do.   For a summary from Protect New Mexico click here

SB 197: High School Water Conservation Program.  This bill creates a pilot project through a 1 – credit elective course in high school that provides students instruction on principles of water management and conservation and skill training in water conservation.  $100,000 would get appropriated to the Public Education Department to implement the program in 2016 and 2017.  One benefit might be increased awareness on water conservation and management and could lead to more people working in water conservation.  The funding may be too small to make a significant impact but could be a good start.

SB 280: Water Harvesting Income Tax Credit.  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 up to $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 253 Prohibit & Define Coyote Killing Contests This bill would eliminate the practice of coyote-killing contests.  Biological studies have shown that haphazard killing of coyotes actually increases their numbers and that when the packs are splintered, many more coyotes breed, and then increase the number of coyote pups.

SM 06 Federal Land Management & Revenue Impacts:  This bill asks the Department of Finance and Administration to convene stakeholders to study and make recommendations on federal land management and ownership and evaluate the impact of federal lands on revenue streams of state and local governments and local economies.  30% of New Mexico is federal land and some people argue that the state of New Mexico would be a better land manager of public land.  In western states such as Nevada similar studies have led to recommendations to transfer 7 million acres of federal land to the state and selling off thousands of acres to pay for the cost of land management, effectively leading to privatizing public lands.