Egolf offers thoughts on 2013 Legislature

March 30, 2013

The 2013 session of the New Mexico Legislature has just concluded, salve and I wanted to send you this letter to update you on the sixty-day session.

I am honored to continue representing you in the State House of Representatives.  I take very seriously the trust and confidence you place in me; thank you for the opportunity to be of service to you.  In 2012, cure the boundaries of House District 47 changed.  Please know, cialis whether you are a new HD47 constituent or not, that I am always available to address your concerns and very eager to hear your comments so that we can work together for the betterment of our communities and state.

Overall, this legislative session was less political and divisive than recent meetings.  I was very glad to feel a true sense of cooperation and bi-partisanship among the members of the House.  As always, there were hard-fought issues where compromise was not possible, but there were many remarkable moments of both parties working together for New Mexico.

The new Speaker, Ken Martinez, reappointed me as Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  The committee oversees all matters affecting natural resources production, energy generation, transmission, conservation, and the environment.  We succeeded in defeating every anti-conservation bill, and saved the Water Quality Control Commission from elimination.  We also advances the debate on animal welfare by fighting for bills to end coyote-killing contests, barring trapping on public lands and strengthening our animal cruelty laws.

In New Mexico, women earn only $0.78 for every dollar earned by men for the same job, and Hispanic women earn only $0.61.  Because of this disparity, I introduced HB 216, The Fair Pay for Women Act, passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Martinez.   This new law prohibits gender-based wage discrimination, makes it possible for wage discrimination claims to be brought in state court and improves on the remedies available to those who suffer wage discrimination.  This is the first new civil rights legislation to become law in New Mexico in a very long time, and it will make a big difference to thousands of families across New Mexico who rely on income from our hard-working women.

I introduced or sponsored in the House six other bills, which were passed and are currently on the governor’s desk:

·         HB 85 will expand the use of geothermal energy for utility-scale electricity generation,

·         HB 327 allows senior citizens to continue to take physical education classes at community colleges,

·         HB 415 improves the mechanisms to test water quality statewide,

·         SB 479 & 480 end double-dipping in water rights and ensure that new subdivisions have adequate water supplies, and

·         SB 621 requires all regulated utilities in New Mexico to invest regularly and significantly to achieving strict energy efficiency goals.

Not all the bills I supported or co-sponsored made it through the legislative process:

·         HJR 2, which would have presented the issue of marriage equality to the voters passed one committee but failed in another.  While I was incredibly disappointed, making it this far was a major achievement.  I remain fully committed to equality and will continue this fight as long as it takes.

·         HB 77 would have required background checks at New Mexico’s gun shows. It failed to pass the Senate after passing the House on a strong bi-partisan vote.

·         HB 189, to prohibit making false statements to the Environment Department and thereby protect public drinking water supplies, made it all the way to the Senate floor but was never called for a vote.

·         I introduced two bills on hydraulic fracturing to require disclosure of the composition of hydraulic fracturing fluid and protect groundwater from hydraulic fracturing contamination (HB 136 & 335).  It remains critically important to bring greater levels or transparency and safety to oil and gas operations.

The Legislature passed a balanced budget and a large tax reform package.  The tax package contained several important progressive provisions that will: 1) boost the film and television industry to help create jobs and make New Mexico one of the best places on Earth for filming television series, 2) force Wal-Mart and other “Big Box” stores to pay New Mexico’s corporate income tax for the first time, 3) close a huge loophole in the gross receipts tax that has allowed utilities and oil and gas companies to avoid paying gross receipts taxes, and 4) fix several tax incentives that have been costly and failed to produce the desired job-creation benefits.  The tax package also contained some provisions I did not favor, such as a 1.5% reduction in corporate income tax over five years and a new “single sales factor” scheme for some manufacturing companies.  On the whole, the benefits outweighed the costs, and I supported the package because it will help create jobs and level the playing field for New Mexico’s homegrown businesses.

The passage of the budget and tax package was a perfect example of how Santa Fe is different from the gridlock we see in Washington, D.C.  No one was completely satisfied with the package, but a substantial majority of the Legislature saw that the bill’s benefits far outweighed the negatives.  Through my work in the interim committee meetings around the state and in the next legislative session, I will continue to seek common ground and work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to achieve results for New Mexicans.

I hope that you will let me know how I can be of service to you in the upcoming year.  Hearing from constituents is the most important part of my service in the Legislature, and I am always glad to know about your concerns and receive your input.  Please stay in touch.  You may reach me at Brian.Egolf@NMLegis.gov or at (505) 986-9641.

Sincerely,

Brian Egolf

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