Senator Carrie Hamblen's Tips for Understanding the New Mexico Legislature

  1. The Round House is intimidating. And Weird. And, easy to get lost in.

BUT, we are sincere when we say it’s the People’s House. Most folks around the building are very helpful in providing directions, advice, or will help you get to where you need to go. Don’t hesitate to ask someone for help or directions

  1. The process for a bill to become law is pretty straightforward. BUT, the relationships with other legislators, the proposed amendments, and placement on the committee agenda are much more nuanced. Go beyond just understanding what it takes for a bill to become law. Be interested in the behind the scenes relationships and dynamics and use those to help get legislation moving forward.
  2. The Legislature's web page:, contains an enormous amount of information but it can be overwhelming to navigate. Take the time to learn the shortcuts, the Quick links, the Legislator, and Legislation tabs are good ones to start with.
  3. Each legislator has a preference on how to get a hold of them during the session and how to get a hold of them after the session. Most legislators do not check their legislative emails when not in session. Some have personal or campaign emails they use when not in session or are willing to use their personal phone numbers. Texting during the session is typically preferred.
  4. Challenging bills typically take more than one session to pass. It takes getting them through committees in one chamber, then getting it passed on the floor, and then going through the same process in the other chamber before a bill goes to the Governor. Then, the Governor has to sign the bill before a certain day after the session ends before it goes into law.
  5. There are typically several hundred bills introduced each session. And, even though it’s preferred to have a lower bill number, it doesn’t mean it will get heard in that order.
  6. Each Committee is unique. Understand the chair, how many members are on the committee and what the area of focus is for each committee. This can impact how fast a bill progresses in the legislature.
  7. A bill can exit a committee in a variety of ways: Pass with no amendments, Pass with amendments, a complete committee substitution, No recommendations, or Table.
  8. During the session, you can connect with legislators either in the offices or on the chamber floor before or after the legislators are required to be in their seats. If you go to their offices, you might catch them but it’s best to make an appointment because they also have committees meetings to attend. If you want to meet with them while they are on the floor, you will need to connect with an attendant, give them a card or note, and specify which legislator you would like to speak to. If that legislator is available, they will come outside of the chamber and meet you. You can also text them, if you have their contact information, and they may be able to meet with you also. OR, if you can catch them before the floor session or after it is over, you will be able to meet them in the hallway or outside of the chambers.
  9. Attending committee meetings can be either very interesting or very boring. If you are attending a committee meeting to give public comment on a bill, ALWAYS start with Mister/Madam Chair and Committee. Protocols require you go through the chair to avoid targeting one specific senator or representative.
  10. If you are lobbying for a particular bill, make sure you know your vote count. Know who will support your bill and who will not. This includes committee votes. If your bill doesn’t make it out of committee, it will not get to the floor and has no chance of passing.

Count your votes and be targeted.