02-12-19 RMFU New Mexico’s Legislative Drive-In Highlights & Results

Pam Roy welcomes RMFU members to the Legislative Drive-In held in Santa Fe.

RMFU New Mexico’s Legislative Drive-In Highlights & Results

By Pam Roy
RMFU Government Relations For New Mexico

A diverse group of participants with a variety of interests attended the 2019  Rocky Mountain Farmers Union New Mexico Legislative Drive-In. The afternoon “Round Table” presentations and discussions were highlighted by presentations from the Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte, State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richards, and former Representative Bill Gomez.

Secretary Witte opened the meeting stating his encouragement of a new administration led by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in which state agencies are already reaching out to each other to forge collaborations. Agribusiness itself and more focus on in-state agricultural initiatives will strengthen the state’s agriculture sector, as international trade has made it difficult to move some products such as pecans. Secretary Witte and Mr. Gomez discussed hemp as a new crop in New Mexico, now that federal legislation was passed and the rule making has happened.  In New Mexico, hemp research, infrastructure, and commercialization are priorities.

State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richards said her focus will include be working with the Office of Renewable Energy to look at methane capture, assessing royalties on methane, and expanding wind and solar energy generation.  Additionally, water policy, soil health initiatives, and conservation continue to be key priorities.  With 9 million acres of trust land, oil and gas are a large part of the portfolio for the state. Her number one priority is to focus resources on early childhood education.

Farmers Union members from New Mexico and those representing guest organizations and agencies discussed a wide variety of issues highlighting their interests in the future of agriculture and the delicate balances between natural resources and economic opportunities. Of specific importance is the partnership with, and work of, the National Young Farmers Coalition, including an Agriculture Workforce legislative initiative just introduced as a way to create opportunities for farmers and ranchers.

The event was highlighted by a visit with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. The RMFU presented her with the Golden Triangle Award for her dedication and leadership in Congress to uphold and secure important ag programs that benefit Farmers Union members.

The list of legislation of interest to New Mexico’s Rocky Mountain Farmers Union members continues to grow  The following topics were part of the New Mexico Legislative Drive-In discussions.

Legislation of Interest
as of February 10th, 2019
1)      SB 115 and HB 328: Procurement of NM Grown Produce for School Meals, $350,000, Senator Pat Woods, Co-sponsored by Representatives Paul Bandy and Nathan Small
·         SB 115 passed in Senate Conservation
·         SB 115 Next step:  Senate Finance
·         HB 328: passed House Agriculture & Water Committee
·         HB 328: Next step:  House Appropriations

2)      HB 125: Provide Food and Agriculture Experiential Learning Grants to Schools Programs, $350,000, Sponsored by Representative Candie Sweetser
·         Passed House Agriculture & Water Committee unanimously
·         Next step:  House Appropriations

3)      SB 83: Creating a Pilot Program to Provide NM Grown Fresh Fruits and Vegetables to Senior Centers and Fund Nutrition Programs for Seniors, $500,000, Sponsored by Senator Liz Stefanics and Representative Gail Armstrong
·         Passed Senate Public Affairs Committee
·         Next step: Senate Finance

4)      SB 84: Authorizing Growing and Use of Fruits and Vegetables for Senior Center, Sponsored by Senator Liz Stefanics
·         Passed Senate Public Affairs Committee
·         Passed Senate Conservation Committee (as amended)
·         Passed full Senate 2/8
·         Next step: Will move to House Committees

5)      HB 327: Develop Market Opportunities for Farmers, Ranchers, and Agribusiness in NM, Sponsored by Representative Paul Bandy
·         Passed House Commerce and Economic Development Committee
·         Next step:  House Appropriations

6)      HB 315:  Enacting the NM Agricultural Workforce Development Program Act, Sponsored by Representative Paul Bandy
·         Passed House Commerce and Economic Development Committee
·         Next step:  House Appropriations

7)      HB 204 and SB 218: Healthy Soils Act, sponsored by Representative Nathan Small and Senator Liz Stefanics
·         Passed House Commerce & Economic Development Committee
·         Next step: House Agriculture & Water Committee, Tuesday, February 12, 8:30am

8)      SB 102 and HB 194: Frontier Communities Investment Working Group, sponsored by Senator Carlos Cisneros and Representative Rudy Martinez
·         HB 194 passed House Commerce & Economic Development
·         Next step House Corporations and Transportation Committee

9)      HB 155: Local Economic Development Tax (local opinion of up to 5/8 of one percent), Representative Dow
·         Passed House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee
·         Next step House Taxation and Revenue Committee

10)  HB 203: Economic Development Finance & Ag Enterprises, Representatives Nathan Small, Raymundo Lara, Melanie Stansbury, Andrea Romero, and Anthony Allison
·         Passed Committees
·         Voted on in House 1/23/19,passed unanimously
·         Voted on by Senate 1/31/19, passed unanimously
·         Signed by Governor Lujan Grisham

11)  HB 137: Enacting the Tribal and Health Council Act, sponsored by Representative Liz Thompson
·         Passed State Government, Elections & Indian Affairs
·         Next step Health and Human Service Committee

12)  SB 39: Creating the Solar Market Development Income Tax Credit: Repealing the Expired Solar Market Development Tax Credit, Senator Mimi Stewart
·         Goes to Senate Corporations & Transportation Committee, then Finance

13)  HB 266: Forest and Watershed Restoration Act, sponsored by Representative Paul Bandy and Senator Peter Wirth
·         Passed House Energy and Natural Resources Committee
·         Next step to be introduced in House State Government, Elections, and Indian Affairs Committee

14)  SB 454: Enacting the Agricultural and Natural Resources Trust Fund, sponsored by Senator Steven Neville
·         Next step to be introduced in Senate Conservation Committee

15)  HB 332: Relating to Property Taxes: Adding a New Use of Land Eligible for a Special Method of Valuation for Land Used Primarily for Agricultural Purposes, sponsored by Representatives Bobby Gonzales, Jim Trujillo, and Susan Herrera, and Senator Peter Wirth
·         Passed introduced in House Transportation Committee
·         Next step:  House Agriculture & Water Committee, February 12, 8:30am

16)  SB 228: Enacting the Wildlife Corridors Act, sponsored by Senator Mimi Stewart
·         Passed by Senate Conservation Committee (as amended)
·         Next step is Senate Finance Committee

17)  SB 161: New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority Fund, sponsored by Senator Bill Tallman
·         Passed Senate Conservation
·         Nest step Senate Finance Committee

18)  HB 210: Community Solar Act, sponsored by Representatives Patricia Roybal Caballero, and Andrea Romero, and Senator Liz Stefanics
·         Passed by Senate Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee
·         Next step: Judiciary Committee

19)  SB 275: Increasing the Requirements of Renewable Portfolio Standards for Rural Electric Cooperatives and Public Utilities…, sponsored by Senators Mimi Stewart, Liz Stefanics, Peter Wirth, William Soules, and Representative Nathan Small
·         Goes to Senate Conservation Committee

These are bills currently moving forward to the fourth week of the NM Legislative session that Farmers Union sees of interest and/or potential priority.

New Mexico Commissioner of Agriculture Jeff Witte visits with Farmers Union members attending the Legislative Drive-in in Santa Fe.

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union President Dr. Dale McCall leads policy discussions with members attending the Legislative Drive-in in Santa Fe.

Learn more about the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and how you can become a member online @ www.rmfu.org