New Mexico began its legislative session on January 17th, which will run for 60 days. With a continuing surplus of billions of dollars, it will likely create the largest budget the state has ever had, with major investments expected in education, crime prevention, conservation, and more.
Audubon Southwest is working on several bills this session as well as advocating for more spending on environmental issues through the budget process.
Our biggest project is the creation of a trust fund for conservation, which we have worked on for several years. Now called the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund, we are thrilled that this year, for the first time, there is widespread agreement among conservation groups, many agriculture and industry groups, legislators, agencies, and the governor’s office to create a fund which will generate consistent revenue to ten programs which do not usually receive it through the regular budget process.
New Mexico is falling behind as one of the only states which does not have a dedicated source of revenue for conservation. Our conservation programs currently rely on the agencies’ general budgets or on one-time appropriations in individual legislative sessions, which is inconsistent and unreliable year-to-year. We are poised to create a trust fund with a significant endowment. Part of the fund will generate interest for use in future years, ensuring ongoing revenue for programs which do not have consistent funding. Part of the fund will also be available for those programs to use in the next fiscal year. The fund will include the Environment Department’s River Stewardship program which does riparian restoration projects, and endangered species work at the Game and Fish Department.
Other issues we’ll be hard at work on include:
- significant funding for the Strategic Water Reserve—an existing program within the Interstate Stream Commission’s office which allows the state to purchase or lease water for two purposes: to protect endangered species, and to help the state comply with its Rio Grande Compact obligations.
- continued support of a bill to limit the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in the state, which can harm insects and leach into rivers creating impacts to all riparian-dependent species.
- monitoring bills as they are filed and supporting bills which help address climate change, environmental justice, wildfire resiliency, and issues relating to water and drought.
You’ll hear from us as we learn about new bills and when you have opportunities to engage legislators. Thanks for supporting Audubon Southwest’s legislative work in New Mexico. For any questions related to the legislative session, feel free to contact Judy: firstname.lastname@example.org