With an average score of +34.9, representatives from the East, like their colleagues in the Senate, posted the highest average score. At -23.6, metro Santa Fe again ranked at the bottom. For perspective, the representative with the highest score in the state was David Adkins (R-Albuquerque), at +78. The lowest performer was D. Wonda Johnson (D-Church Rock), at -61.
Affordable Energy Threatened in New Mexico
Albuquerque Presentation by James Taylor
Energy and Environment Policy Expert at Heartland Institute
April 8, 2015 – 6:00 to 7:30pm
Since New Mexico adopted its renewable portfolio standard in 2007 under then-Gov. Bill Richardson, electricity prices in New Mexico have exploded. Seven such states with renewable mandates saw their rates soar by an average of 54.2 percent between 2001 and 2010, more than twice the average increase experienced by seven other coal-dependent states without mandates.
As New Mexico continues to struggle economically and rising electricity prices are not helping the situation. But the worst is yet to come. Federal and state policies are poised to push electricity costs even higher.
During the 2015 legislative session, HB 445 which passed the House would have limited New Mexico’s renewable requirement to 15% rather than continuing to implement it on the way to a 20% requirement by 2020.
James M. Taylor is vice president for external relations and senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute. Taylor is the former managing editor (2001-2014) of Environment & Climate News, a national monthly publication devoted to sound science and free-market environmentalism. Taylor writes a weekly column for Forbes which appears on the magazine's Forbes.com Website.
Taylor will be presenting on the myriad forces threatening to drive electricity prices in New Mexico even higher at a Rio Grande Foundation event.
- When: Wednesday, April 8, from 6:00 to 7:30pm
- Where: Room 2401 UNM Law School: 1117 Stanford Dr., NE Albuquerque, NM 87106
- Cost: $5 payable at the door
Taylor has presented energy and environment analysis on CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Channel, MSNBC, PBS News Hour, PBS Frontline, CBS Evening News, ABC World News and other TV and radio outlets across the country. Taylor has also been published in virtually every major newspaper in the country.
Taylor received his bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College where he studied atmospheric science and majored in government. He received his Juris Doctorate from Syracuse University.
The Rio Grande Foundation’s Freedom Index tracks each legislator’s support for or opposition to free markets and limited government. But what about geography? The delegations from which part of New Mexico support liberty, opportunity, and prosperity the most?
We looked at six regions: North, East, South, West, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe. With an average score of +17.0, senators from the East posted the best performance in 2015. At -2.1, metro Santa Fe ranked worst. For perspective, the senator with the highest score in the state was Lee Cotter (R-Las Cruces), at +51. The lowest performer was the now-out-of-office Phil Griego (D-San Jose), at -18.
Tomorrow we’ll look at the House delegations.
Michael Sanchez, the Majority Floor Leader of the Senate, succeeded in blocking his chamber from voting on HB75, the high-profile compromise to raise the minimum wage while making New Mexico a right-to-work state.
But the Senate’s liberal “czar” was able to block many other bills that passed the House of Representatives this session. Among them:
* HB43 would have stiffened penalties for illegally dealing in WIC checks and food stamps.
* HB55 would have reformed the state’s costly prevailing-wage mandate.
* HB238 would have reduced workers’ compensation for employees injured while drunk or on drugs. (Passed 64-2.)
* HB272 would have established a regulatory framework to legalize ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft. (Passed 56-8.)
* HB333 would have expanded educational options by creating a tax credit for opportunity scholarships.
* HB445 would have maintained the “renewable portfolio standard” — essentially, a requirement for politically correct power — at 15 percent, rather than raising it to 20 percent by 2010.
The Rio Grande Foundation has been instrumental in educating the public, the media, and elected officials about the issues involved with many of the bills. In 2015, meaningful change may have fallen victim to Michael Sanchez’s obstructionism. But the Foundation will continue to provide research and commentary on the need for pro-growth, pro-taxpayer policies in New Mexico.
With close of this year’s legislative session, the final numbers are in for the Rio Grande Foundation’s Freedom Index. Our legislative tracking tool ranked hundreds of bills, from positive (+8) to negative (-8), on the degree to which they promoted liberty, opportunity, and prosperity. Legislators were held accountable for their floor votes on all bills assigned a score.
Here are the best and worst performers:
Best Score: Lee Cotter (R-Las Cruces), 76 percent
Worst Score: Phil Griego (D-San Jose), 34 percent
Best Score: David Adkins (R-Albuquerque), 74 percent
Worst Score: Doreen Johnson (D-Gallup), 30 percent
SANTA FE, NM—On the final day of the 2015 legislative session, the Senate unanimously passed Representative Zachary Cook’s bill to end civil asset forfeiture—also known as “policing for profit”—in New Mexico. This unfair practice allows police to seize and keep property of citizens who haven’t even been charged with a crime, never mind convicted. Rep. Cook’s legislation would end the legal fiction of civil forfeiture—that property can be responsible for a crime—and replaces it with criminal forfeiture. Criminal forfeiture requires a conviction of a person as a prerequisite to losing property tied to the crime.
“Crime should not pay,” said Paul Gessing, President of the Rio Grande Foundation. “This bill strikes exactly the right balance by allowing law enforcement to bring criminals to justice while protecting the property rights of innocent New Mexicans.”
The bill enjoyed widespread bipartisan support at every stage of the legislative process, passing unanimously through every committee and both the House and Senate floors. This support mirrors the movement at the national level, which is fueled by a powerful partnership between conservative and liberal advocates. Bipartisan legislation has already been introduced in both houses of Congress that would dramatically reform federal civil asset forfeiture laws.
“This bill is one of the most powerful proposals in the country to end a practice that undermines American’s property rights and violates due process,” said Lee McGrath, legislative counsel for the Institute for Justice, a national organization pressing for forfeiture reform. “This is a big day for New Mexico.”
The proposal is also endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and the Drug Policy Alliance.
A new analysis by The Pew Charitable Trusts explored the shrinkage of middle-class households, which the organization defined as “those making between 67 percent and 200 percent of the state’s median income.”
Between 2000 and 2013, three states saw their middle classes decline by double digits.
* Wisconsin: 10.4 percent
* Ohio: 10.2 percent
* New Mexico: 10.0 percent
The Land of Enchantment needs an aggressive strategy of pro-growth public polices, implemented immediately.
In some ways the Rio Grande Foundation has had a very successful legislative session. Our ideas and research formed the basis for a number of economic reform proposals passed by the New Mexico House, including Right to Work.
Unfortunately, the liberals who control the New Mexico Senate were not willing to compromise for the good of our State.
The good news is that one last bill, HB 560 which would dramatically reform New Mexico’s civil asset forfeiture laws in order to protect individual property rights, is still alive and ready for Senate approval. It passed the House unanimously and is the result of bi-partisan work by a number of people and organizations. The Santa Fe New Mexican has an article in today’s paper outlining some of the problems with current asset forfeiture laws and what the reforms might do. At this point we don’t know what the Martinez Administration would do with a bill that passed both houses, but the Senate has to act before that is even a concern.
Nonetheless, while we at RGF always look to preserve individual liberties and are not shy about the divisive nature of some reforms, it is fun to occasionally have “strange bedfellows” coalitions.
With the 2015 legislative session about to end, it’s a near-certainty that right-to-work (RTW) legislation, which passed the House, will not be voted on in the Senate.
Given New Mexico’s struggling economy and declining population, it’s unfortunate that senators have rejected a powerful, and cost-fee, tool for job creation. Since the start of the year, the Rio Grande Foundation has been tracking announcements of expansions, relocations, and greenfield investments published on Area Development’s website. Founded in 1965, the publication “is considered the leading executive magazine covering corporate site selection and relocation. … Area Development is published quarterly and has 60,000 mailed copies.”
Here are the findings for January:
Here are the findings for February:
In all, 27,389 jobs (80.6 percent) were to be created in RTW states. Only 6,605 jobs (19.4 percent) were planned for non-RTW states.
Notably, many projects involved shifts from non-RTW to RTW states:
* Brad Penn Lubricants moved production from Pennsylvania to Indiana.
* Mercedes-Benz USA relocated its corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Georgia.
* American Stair Corporation moved its operations from Illinois to Indiana.
Contrary to unions’ claims, the positions slated for RTW states are not limited to “McJobs,” but run the gamut, including healthcare, software/IT, manufacturing, finance, engineering, and logistics/warehousing — exactly the kind of opportunities New Mexico needs to reverse its economic woes.
In all, New Mexico’s four RTW neighbors are projected to gain 6,122 jobs, while non-RTW Colorado posted no project announcements.
Some methodological specifics:
* All job estimates — “up to,” “as many as,” “about” — were taken at face value, for RTW and non-RTW states alike.
* If an announcement did not make an employment projection, efforts were made to obtain an estimate from newspaper articles and/or press releases by elected officials and economic-development bureaucracies.
* If no job figure could be found anywhere, the project was not counted, whether it was a RTW or non-RTW state.
A: When a majority of the Santa Fe City Council says it isn’t? I don’t know the real answer to that question, but if there’s any group that can raise revenues without raising taxes, the ever-creative liberals at the City of Santa Fe might just be it. See the Santa Fe New Mexican’s coverage of a new proposal to levy a 10 cent fee on each paper bag used by shoppers. A prior attempt by city councilor to tax paper bags was killed on concerns that it was illegal, but the Council has changed the name of the fee from “service fee” to “environmental fee” in an effort to skirt the law.
Interestingly, the City’s Assistant City Attorney Theresa Gheen, claimed that the new fee passes legal muster, but when asked to explain why the fee wasn’t an illegal tax, Gheen couldn’t. The fee hasn’t passed Santa Fe’s City Council yet and it only passed on 3-2 vote. There is still time to win the political argument against this tax increase, but if the tax hike is passed, there will definitely be a legal argument as well.