Not surprisingly, the 2021 session of the New Mexico Legislature which kicked off January 19, has been impacted by security issues as well as pandemic protocols, which will not make the legislators’ daunting, get-it-done-fast jobs any easier. House sessions will be virtual, with the Senate planning to combine in-person with virtual.

As Representative Damon Ely, District 23, explained in an email, “Los Alamos National Lab conducted a modeling of different scenarios during the legislative process.  It is very clear that if we are not careful, there will be a COVID-19 outbreak which is both dangerous and disruptive.” As House rules chair, Ely drafted those rules “to assure that everything we do will be seen by the public and the public will have full access to comment during the committee process.”

Regarding Corrales-specific concerns, Mayor JoAnne Roake recently published a pdf on the Village website produced by Parks and Recreation chief Lynn Siverts and Technical Services librarian Brynn Cole which details three priority projects, including purchase of a vehicle and equipment for Corrales Animal Services, of which $40,000 has been raised, with $40,000 more required.

Next, $75,000 to plan, design, and construct a bicycle, equestrian and pedestrian trail that connects the Thompson Fence Line Trail to the Village of Corrales in Bernalillo County. Then, to plan, design, construct, and equip new water lines and water distribution system in Corrales for fire suppression, a request for $1,855,000. The project costs $2,536,000, of which $681,000 has been secured.

The mayor added that the state budget is “unchanged from last year, which means monies will be available for state legislation and for local infrastructure projects.” Ely expects “a full plate of proposals - early childhood funding, legalizing marijuana, eliminating the criminal statute on abortion, funding for businesses with an emphasis on micro-businesses and the self-employed, rent assistance and other COVID relief, further election reform, infrastructure spending (including a real push for state-wide, high quality internet), a review of the emergency declaration to give the legislature a role during a long term pandemic like the one we are now in, predatory lending, liquor license reform, sick leave and more.”

Not mentioned by Ely was an ongoing push to eliminate or even reduce the state's tax on Social Security income. In February 2020 the House Taxation and Revenue Committee tabled two bills proposed to address that. Both Republican and Democratic legislators were said to be worried about “altering the tax without having a plan to replace lost revenue.” Only 13 states tax Social Security benefits.

Ely concluded with this: “The hope is that we will come out of this crisis with a chance to leap forward both economically and with a better outcome for New Mexico citizens.  We learned from the 2008-2014 recession that sitting passively is not the answer.” Damon’s legislative e-mail address is daymon.ely @nmlegis.gov and his cell is 610-6529. Brenda McKenna, of Senate District 9, can be reached at bgmckenna@gmail.com. Representative Jane Powdrell-Culbert can be contacted at jpandp@comcast. net or by calling 721-9021.

For those citizens more motivated than ever to learn more of what their state senators and representatives will be tackling, and to possibly participate in relevant discussions, the League of Women Voters of New Mexico is helping to make the legislature website, legis.gov, easier to navigate. See below. (It notes that not all newly-elected legislators have been slotted into the website.)

Find Your Legislator. nmlegis.gov/ lcs/legislator_search.aspx---Gives you many search options. Bill Finder   http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/bill finder/ bill_finder.aspx. Gives you various ways of finding legislation My Roundhouse. nmlegis.gov/lcs/ roundhouse.This site allows you to register and receive updates on specific legislation. Bill Locator. nmlegis.gov/lcs/session_locator.aspx  Click on the relevant session and it will give you a numerical listing of the legislation. House bills first and then the Senate bills.

Committees, http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/committees_standing.aspx---This lists the Committees that meet during the Legislative Session.These are live links and will show the members and usual meeting times. Accessing Meetings. The “What’s Happening” tab will let you know what meetings are going on and how to access them electronically. Click on the “html” versions to get “live” links.  The “Webcast” button will let you access any meeting that is underway.

Interim Committees. http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/committees_interim.aspx- These committees meet in-between sessions. Much of the preliminary work is done in these Committees Abbreviations. nmlegis.gov/lcs/action_abbreviations.aspx. You might want to print this out for reference since they are used throughout.

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