From Ralph & Susan Hill: Legislation To Support & Legislation Not To Support

Here are synopsis of some bills in the House.  Our friend, James Crawford, is closely evaluating these bills and provided these evaluations. James also closely follows deliberations at the Environmental Improvement Board.  We deeply trust his wisdom on these matters.  Could someone in Stephen Easley’s district send these to him?  It would be interesting to know his position.
 Ralph & Susan Hill
 Support HB 21 to require agendas be published at least 72 hours in advance of meetings. It is an improvement over the existing 24 hour requirement. Valencia County Commission gives 48 hour notice but often that is not adequate for people to be able to digest the agenda and contact their commissioners if desired. Often a weekend is included in the required time frames which is often a problem for some folks.
The thing that is still missing from the Open Meetings Act is any requirement for meaningful public input. The OMA provides for citizens to sit in on meetings but does not provide for comment or input. Valencia County allows people to comment at the end of the meetings but does not allow comment on agenda items as they are being considered. Comments can be made only after decisions have already been made.
The legislature’s own committee hearing procedures should be adopted as a rule at all levels. Any of us can come to committee meetings and have a chance to be heard before a decision is made. It is ironic that there is an inverse ratio in openess to the public as the level of government gets lower.
Support HB 13 – Criminal Acts as Public Corruption Offenses. This bill elevates conviction of certain offenses such as embezzlement, paying for services not received, submitting false vouchers, bribery, etc by officers of a public entity to a public corruption offense. Prison time and fines are increased and persons convicted are barred from contracting and lobbying. Corruption is rampant at all levels of government in NM. Unfortunately, this bill relies on conviction for it to take effect and since convictions are a rarity, it probably really won’t do much to stop corruption. However, it is a step in the right direction and if it makes people in public service give a little more consideration to the consequences of their actions, that will be a positive result.
Oppose HB 120 Locomotive Fuel Gross Receipts. This is an expansion of the GRT deductions for fuel previously enacted to facilitate the rail terminal construction at Santa Teresa. This bill now wants to give a similar deduction for any capital investment in the state by any railroad. It also reduces the threshold for eligibility from $100 million down to $50 million. This is just another special interest tax break with no economic analysis showing that tax revenues will increase or at least be neutral. It will most likely cause a decline in revenues that will have to be made up elsewhere. This just one of a plethora of bills already introduced that give GRT credits or exemptions. Only a flat GRT rate that applies to all equally can solve the problem of unfair treatment between entities and state government being in the business of picking corporate winners and losers.
Oppose HB 85 Geothermal Resource Leasing. The bill has a lot of good aspects in that it streamlines the process for leasing geothermal resources. However, it includes a section of environmental double speak that will essentially invalidate any leases. In Section 2, it classifies geothermal as a renewable resource which is fine, but it then goes on to say that the resource shall not be diminished beneath natural levels in quantity, quality, or temperature.  One cannot use something and not have an effect on its natural condition.
                                                           
Oppose HB 128 Solar Facility Gross Receipts Definitions. This bill makes a previously horrible GRT deduction for solar generating facilities even worse. The existing statute has a 1 megawatt threshold for eligibility. This bill removes the minimum threshold so that any solar facility will qualify. Now we tax payers will help foot the bill for our neighbor’s gate openers, etc. for and use of solar panels for power. This is pushing tax payer robbery for solar way beyond any level of reasonableness.