April 25, 2021:
Hannah Burling of Santa Fe was elected to a second two-year term as president of the NM League of Women Voters during the League's Virtual Convention recently. Other elected officers and directors who will serve for the 2021-23 biennium are: Barbara Calef, 2nd Vice President; Dick Mason, Action Chair; Rebecca Chaiken, Secretary; Suzanne Ronneau, Treasurer. Judy Williams, Past President and Voter Services.
League directors include Jody Larson, Janet Blair, Rebecca Alvarez, Susan Haase, Kathy Brook, Meredith Machen, Akkana Peck, Bobbi Riedel, Renny Ashleman, Karen Douglas, Patricia Hawkins, Donna Sandoval, Becky Shankland, Eileen VanWie and the leadership team of the Santa Fe County League. The League also adopted new and/or revised positions on issues at the convention. These positions are adopted after study and discussion and serve as a basis of League advocacy.
New positions on Reproductive Rights and the Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel (SNF) were adopted. LWVNM supports every woman's right to access affordable, high-quality reproductive health care, including access to abortion services and birth control. The extensive position on SNF lists specific conditions that must be met before the League could support such facilities.
LWVNM delegates approved updates to three positions. The Education position was extensively revised, adding language on multicultural/multilingual education and sections on post-secondary and early childhood education. The Election Procedures position now supports allowing voters not enrolled in a major political party to vote in primary elections. The Transfer of Federal Public Lands language was clarified concerning land management.
Watch the video: LWVNM Women's March.
Amber Wallin of New Mexico Voices for Children spoke to the League about Revenue & Tax Policy for 2021.
Writer and reporter Gwyneth Doland, of New Mexico In Depth, speaks about the historical aspects of redistricting in New Mexico, how they impact redistricting today, and what we might expect in redistricting 2021. Doland is the author of Redistricting NM 2021; A troubled history and opportunities for change.
View the video of our webinar on Redistricting in New Mexico.
Check out an open source program developed by the MGGG Lab atTufts University. Advocates in New Mexico have tried this and have been impressed. Main link: https://districtr.org/. Or go straight to the link for New Mexico. Read about details of the software (PDF).
August 23 and 26, 2020:
Here’s to the 2020 Women’s Vote Centennial!
Some events in the video:
See more details and times for specific events in the video on the LWVNM History page.
Sunday, Aug 23, 2020: Women’s Vote Centennial Car Parade in Santa Fe, 2-3 pm
Meet in PERA parking lot across from Capitol before 2 pm sharp. Proceed north
on Santa Fe Trail toward Plaza. Take right on San Francisco, left on Cathedral
Place, left on Palace, right on Washington St, left on Marcy, passing City
Hall, left at Federal Court Building, left on Grant Ave passing Santa Fe County
Headquarters on right (Grant and Catron) and Nina Otero-Warren’s House at 135
Grant. Honk twice and then wend your way back home.
Wednesday, Aug 26, 2020: Women’s Vote Centennial Celebration, 4-7pm, online
The program will broadcast on GOV-TV [Channel 16] and Albuquerque's YouTube Channel.
Sign up on Facebook and check back later for the YouTube link.
A Guest Column in the Albuquerque Journal, July 7 2020, by Hannah Burling And Christine Furlanetto (link is paywalled, but you can read the original here: Federal Public Lands are for All Americans).
June 16, 2020:
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico hosted a webinar with former Senator Fred Harris (D-OK), now a resident of Corrales and an adjunct professor at UNM. He discussed the current demonstrations and how the findings of the Kerner Commission (issued after the civil unrest of the 1960s) can help us better understand the frustrations of the African American community.
Watch the video: Kerner Commission Webinar.
June 27, 2020:
The LWVUS Convention was held the weekend of June 26-27 and we scored a major victory! Our Transfer of Federal Public Lands position was adopted by concurrence. As a concurrence, we needed a two-thirds vote, but after debate on Friday we weren’t sure it would pass. Many delegates hadn’t read the position or didn’t understand it and its rationale. But on Saturday a delegate from Florida moved to allow more debate. We had some good speakers in favor. In addition, we sent a new message to the LWVUS leaders list stating the position and why it is important. Finally, Judy Williams pasted the position itself into the Q&A so the delegates could see it.
Now the LWVNM position on the Transfer of Federal Public lands is a national position! Delegates from the Western states were supportive, particularly those from Utah, Montana and Nevada.
You can get more details about the caucus and the position, and watch the video, on our Transfer of Federal Public Lands page.
Read the Guest Column in the Albuquerque Journal, July 7 2020, by Hannah Burling And Christine Furlanetto (paywalled, but you can read the original here: Federal Public Lands are for All Americans).
June 22, 2020:
The LWVNM led a caucus on our recommended concurrence with our Transfer of Federal Public Lands position on June 22, 2020. You can get more details about the caucus and the position, and watch the video, here: Transfer of Federal Public Lands.
June 15, 2020:
League of Women Voters of New Mexico hosted a webinar with former Senator Fred Harris (D-OK), now a resident of Corrales and an adjunct professor at UNM. He discussed the current demonstrations and how the findings of the Kerner Commission (issued after the civil unrest of the 1960s) can help us better understand the frustrations of the African American community.
Watch on YouTube: LWVNM Kerner Commission Webinar.
April 23, 2020:
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico is urging the public to vote absentee in the June 2 Primary Election.
In compliance with the recent NM Supreme Court decision, absentee ballot applications will be mailed directly to all New Mexico voters who are registered as Republicans, Democrats or Libertarians. Those applications must be filled out and returned to your county clerk in order to receive an absentee ballot for the primary election. Only those who are registered with one of the three major parties are eligible to vote in the primary.
You can also go to nmvote.org now to request an absentee ballot. Absentee ballots will be mailed out beginning on May 5.
More info: Press release: League Urges Absentee Ballot Vote.
April 15, 2020:
We are disappointed that in the current public health crisis the NM Supreme Court decided against granting the petition from the county clerks, which asked that they be allowed to conduct the 2020 primary election as an all-mail election supplemented by service centers.
The League of Women Voters believes the absentee ballot application process creates an unnecessary obstacle to voting by mail, which lands hard on disabled, elderly, rural, low literacy, and low-income voters who are disproportionately people of color.
April 9, 2020:
Common Cause New Mexico, the League of Women Voters of New Mexico, NM Native Vote, the ACLU of NM, Disability Rights NM and Santo Domingo Pueblo today filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief with the NM Supreme Court in support of the New Mexico County Clerks and the Secretary of State’s petition to hold the June Primary using a set of vote-by-mail, mobile voting and in-person ballot-drop protocols. The protocols, proposed by the state’s voting officials, will allow for the continued implementation of social distancing requirements and the extended stay-at-home order mandated by the Governor on March 23 and extended to May 1 on April 5.
The clock is ticking as overseas ballots must be sent out by April 18, with printing scheduled to begin April 14, according to the Secretary of State.
Standard in-person voting would force the people of New Mexico to choose between their safety and the exercise of their franchise. More details: Common Cause, League of Women Voters and Four Other Groups File Amicus Brief with NM Supreme Court in Support of Modified Mail-in Primary.
February 6, 2020:
The 100th Anniversary celebration at the Roundhouse was packed, with speeches by the Governor and Secretary of State, proclamations by the House and Senate, cake and lemonade. A good time was had by all.
Many local Leagues still have celebrations planned for later in the year; check your local League's website.
December 11, 2019:
LWVNM has been studying the proposed storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel (SNF) from the 99 domestic commercial nuclear reactors in two proposed Consolidated Interim Storage Facilities (CISF) in Southeast NM and the TX/NM border since 2017.
The study has produced a Proposed SNF Storage Advocacy Statement which was approved by the LWVNM Board in its November meeting, and has been submitted to LWVUS for approval.
August 1, 2019:
The LWVNM has received a generous grant grant to lead an effort to ensure fair and transparent redistricting following the 2020 census. As part of that effort we have created a separate web site. Please visit fairdistrictsnm.org. The site is under development but already has links to valuable resources on redistricting.
July 30, 2019:
Guest column in the Albuquerque Journal by Hannah Burling, President, LWVNM: NM should work now to implement redistricting reform.
June 28, 2019:
The LWVNM is pleased that the Supreme Court has not approved the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Instead, they sent the issue back to the Department of Commerce, leaving the final decision up in the air. We hope that reason prevails and the question will not be added to the census. It would result in a serious undercount in New Mexico, costing the state $3,700 for every resident who goes uncounted, potentially $780 million over ten years. We hope the courts and the administration do the right thing.
The LWVNM is disappointed that in today's ruling on fair redistricting the U.S. Supreme Court did not take the opportunity to set guidelines for fair redistricting in all the states. As Justice Kagan stated in her dissent, "the partisan gerrymanders here debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people".
Despite the Supreme Court ruling, New Mexico policymakers still have the opportunity to follow the other 21 states that have acted to ensure that constituents get to choose their legislators rather than legislators choosing their constituents.
More details in the Press Release: LWVNM on the SCOTUS Decisions on Census and Gerrymandering.
May 29, 2019:
The LWVNM convention, held in May in Los Alamos, was a great success. Besides talks by Sara Scott, Christine Chandler, and Liz Bander, our LWVUS liaison, we were treated to a half-hour talk by our own Stephanie Garcia Richard, the new State Land Commissioner, at our banquet. She speaks eloquently about the wins and losses that have occurred since her election and what she hopes for the future. Enjoy her talk and the questions: Stephanie Garcia Richard Speaks at LWVNM Convention Banquet.
May 25, 2019:
Hannah Burling of Santa Fe has been elected to a two-year term as president of the League of Women Voters of New Mexico. The action came at the League's biennial convention held in Los Alamos over the weekend.
The convention also approved a position on the transfer of federal public lands after a two-year study on the subject, and approved a study on the selection of New Mexico judges in limited jurisdiction courts.
April 20, 2019:
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico thanks Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., for introducing the For the People Act in the U.S. Senate. The League believes the American people need a democracy that works for them, not for special and entrenched interests.
Read the details: Election reform is essential for future of democracy.
March 28, 2019:
League President Judy Williams was invited to the bill signing establishing an Independent Ethics Commission. This is an important milestone for New Mexico. The legislature has struggled for a decade to create such a commission, and received a boost when 75% of voters approved a commission in 2018. The legislature and the advocacy groups were well-represented. Common Cause, which took the lead; the Thornburg foundation, Ethics Watch and NM First.
March 27, 2019:
Voting bill signed by the Governor! The League was there when Governor Lujan Grisham signed into law SB672, which was a League priority. It will make it mush easier for voters to have their voices count in New Mexico elections. It was a momentous occasion, since for the last decade this legislation has languished. The bill will make voter registration automatic when people apply for driver licenses; make it possible to register during early voting; and in 2021, will institute same-day registration.
March 17, 2019:
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico deplores the New Mexico Senate action that gutted HB6. It is time for New Mexico to generate the revenues needed to fund essential services, including early childhood and those revenues should come from those who can most afford it.
The version of the bill passed by the New Mexico House would have set New Mexico on the path to a broader, more reliable source of funding. But the New Mexico Senate removed much of the revenue generation and eliminated almost all of the fairness features of the House version.
More details: LWVNM Deplores Gutting Major Funding Bill.
March 15, 2019:
The League of Women Voters is deeply disappointed that the New Mexico Senate voted against HB 51, which would have repealed the outdated law making abortion a crime. New Mexico women deserve to know that a full range of healthcare will remain available to them even if Roe v. Wade is overturned. The League believes that in a pluralistic society such as ours the individual's right to make reproductive choices, including abortion, must be affirmed.
"This should have been a no-brainer for legislators. It means now New Mexico's women have lost a very important guarantee that they, their doctors and families can make their own choices about reproductive rights," said NM League of Women Voters President Judith Williams. "A vote against this bill is a vote against women's rights."
Voting against the bill in the Senate were all Republicans and Democratic Sens. Pete Campos of Las Vegas, Carlos Cisneros of Questa, Richard Martinez of Española, George Muñoz of Gallup, Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces, Gabriel Ramos of Silver City, Clemente "Meme" Sanchez of Grants and John Arthur Smith of Deming.
February 1, 2019:
Senators Mark Moores (R-Bernalillo) and Bill Tallman (D-Bernalillo) have filed Senate Bill 416, the Redistricting Act, on behalf of the League of Women Voters of New Mexico. The bill defines the process for redistricting after the 2020 census.
It is time for the policymakers in to step up and pass SB416. The Redistricting Act will enable constituents to choose their legislators instead of continuing to let the legislators choose their constituents
More details: Redistricting Bill Filed.
October 2, 2018:
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico is for the first time publishing separate Voter Guides for the 12 New Mexico counties with substantial Native American Populations. In this pilot project the League is publishing and printing 15,000 Voter Guides for Native Americans in these counties.
“Our hard-working volunteers and a generous grant from the Thornburg Foundation for printing have made this possible. The Native American Voter Task Force is collaborating on this effort and will handle distribution throughout Indian Country. Given the short timeframe for this project, we were unable to include the candidate questionnaires in these guides but plan to do so in the future,” said Judy Williams, President of the League of Women Voters of New Mexico.
The guides will contain a listing of all candidates and ballot issues for those areas.
“The League is excited about the opportunity to provide these special voter guides for the Native American population of New Mexico. We believe an informed electorate is the key to our democracy. The vote is the essential part of making democracy work. We are grateful to the Thornburg Foundation for underwriting the printing of the guides ,” said Williams.
The Counties are: Bernalillo, Cibola, McKinley, Otero, San Juan, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Socorro, Luna, Taos and Valencia.
The guides will be made available on our 2018 Voter Guide page.
September 4, 2018:
An accurate Census count is of critical importance to New Mexico, as the results are the basis for the $6.1 billion coming into the state each year for health care, education, transportation and more in New Mexico. The state uses the census data to plan roads, public safety, elections and its own apportionment of legislative districts.
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico asks Governor Martinez to immediately sign an executive order to establish a Complete Count Committee for the 2020 Census.
Read the full letter: LWVNM Urges Governor to establish a Complete Count Committee for the 2020 Census.
June 22, 2018: The League of Women Voters of New Mexico is opposed to the practice of separating children and parents who are guilty only of trying to escape violence in their countries.
An order has been signed, but we do not believe this crisis is over. Thousands of children have been sent to other locations, and the government has yet to say how it will find them and undo the damage already done. Sometimes the only link is a phone number memorized by a small child.
Aside from being condemned internationally, our collective conscience is repulsed by these actions. We call for action to end this policy for good and to reunite families.
It is past time to examine the policies that have led to this crisis, and to fix them. Those who are committed to true reform of our broken immigration system must speak up for decent policies, loud and clear.
Letter to the Editor, Santa Fe New Mexican (also in the Albuquerque Journal).
February 2, 2018: "The practice of using dummy bills needs to stop. They are not just an inconvenience; they subvert democracy and deny the public of their right to provide comment in our Citizens' Legislature," says LWVNM president Judy Williams.
This was mentioned briefly in the Santa Fe New Mexican's Legislative Roundup.
December 31, 2017: The video from our 2017 Citizen Advocacy Workshop is online. Learn how to advocate at the legislature from experts Senator Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe), Senator Sander Rue (R-Albuquerque), and Jim Jackson, Chief Executive Officer of Disability Rights New Mexico.
Watch the video here: 2017 Citizen Advocacy Workshop.
December 5, 2017: NM State League President Judy Williams, an expert on healthcare concerns, was interviewed on the Union Edge radio show.
Williams talks about the importance of healthcare and how it could be made much simpler with a Single Payer, healthcare for all system.
Listen to the segment: Judy Williams on Union Edge radio.
Saturday, December 9, 2017, 10 am to Noon
New Mexico State Capitol, Room 322 (enter on the East side only)
The public is invited.
Learn tips from legislators and a professional lobbyist on how to interact with legislators, speak at hearings, and advocate for your cause. There is no charge for the workshop.
League members will also provide tips on speaking for LWVNM.
October 9, 2017: The League of Women Voters of New Mexico opposes the proposed NM STEM-Ready Science Standards and endorses the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the appropriation of funding necessary for successful implementation. The NGSS develop students' critical thinking and problem-solving skills and their understanding of the need to manage resources for the benefit of both present and future generations. Developed over years by science teachers, higher education faculty, scientists, and business leaders, the NGSS will prepare students for high-skilled, high- wage jobs and improve NM's prospects for economic progress.
Read our full letter on the subject: LWVNM Comment on the Proposed New Mexico STEM-Ready Science Standards.
October 6, 2017, Washington DC: The League of Women Voters issued the following statement in response to the Trump administration's announcement that employers can now opt out of birth control coverage, required by the Affordable Care Act:
This administration's decision to dismantle vital health care coverage for nearly 62 million women is misguided and discriminatory.
Eliminating employer-covered birth control coverage, a requirement under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is a direct assault on a woman's right to make her own health care choices.
The provision included in the ACA has saved women an estimated $1.4 billion in out of pocket costs for contraception coverage. Nine out of 10 women use birth control at some point in their lives for family planning or other medical reasons. Birth control is critical for effective family planning and preventing unwanted pregnancies, which we know opens up more opportunities for women and increases lifetime earnings.
Today's decision turns back the clock for women. It seriously undermines and undercuts the very premise of the ACA that all Americans should have access to health care coverage. Allowing employers and insurance plans to pick and choose what should be covered will lead to discrimination against women. It will shred the essential protections for which generations have struggled.
The League of Women Voters strongly opposes this insulting decision by the Trump Administration.
September 2017: We have three great legislative events coming up in the next few months:
Saturday, December 9, 2017, 9:30 to Noon
Workshop on Effective Citizen Advocacy at the Legislature and tips for speaking at hearings
New Mexico State Capitol, Room 322
January 31, 2018, 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Legislative Reception, Garrett's Desert Inn
February 1, 2018
League Day at the Legislature
Hope to see you there!
May 23, 2017: Judy Williams of Santa Fe is the new president of LWVNM, elected at the League's State Convention in Santa Fe May 21, 2017.
Convention delegates also voted to approve three new studies for the League: transfer of federal public lands; nuclear waste storage; and health care.
For more details, see the 2017 Convention Report.
May 23, 2017: LWVNM urges the Legislature and the Governor to agree on a budget that fully funds essential government services. In order to do that they must enact sensible measures that draw revenue from those who can best afford it. We oppose cuts to essential services.
New Mexico leaders made the mistake of rushing through legislation in the recent past and it has been a factor in our present budget crisis. In the closing hours of the 2013 session Republican Governor Martinez and Democratic House Speaker Kenny Martinez made a deal behind closed doors. That deal contributed to the present budget shortfall. The state should not repeat that mistake.
We had a very productive convention May 20-21. Stay tuned for more details of what we talked about.
March 2017: This year's legislative session is now over. Our final 2017 Legislative Tracking Sheet lists bills we were tracking during the 2017 session.
January 31, 2017 statement from the LWVUS:
The League of Women Voters is opposed to deportation of non-criminal undocumented immigrants. The League of Women Voters supports cities, towns, counties, and states that make a decision not to cooperate with federal deportation and enforcement actions that include non-criminal undocumented immigrants.
The video for the League's Annual Workshop: "*Effective Citizen Advocacy at the Legislature", held Saturday, December 10, 2017, is online. Speakers include Senator Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe, District 25), Representative Jimmie Hall (R-Bernalillo, District 28), and Minda McGonagle of McGonagle Public Relations Consulting Duo, LLC.
January 2016: Come to League Day at the Legislature 2017 February 8 & 9.
Our 2017 Legislative Tracking Sheet is up, listing our priorities during the 2017 session. It will be regularly updated during the session.
November, 2016: LWVNM wins 2016 Common Cause NM "Best in Government" recognition for our efforts to improve democracy. Common Cause NM is our closest partner in advocating for ethics and campaign finance reform, reducing the influence of money in politics, fair redistricting practices, and improvements in elections. We're honored and look forward to even closer collaboration in the 2017 session!
November 12, 2016: The new Charter School Regulation position (DOC, 165K) is the result of an intensive two-year study and consensus meetings around the state. This position will be used for advocacy during the 2017 Legislative Session and will be a component of the existing LWVNM Education position when ratified at Convention, May 20-21, in Santa Fe.
October 7, 2016: New Mexicans have the opportunity to make badly needed changes in the state\u2019s antiquated bail bond system — a system dating back to Pennsylvania state laws from the 1700s. The League supports the amendment on November's ballot, whichwould give judges the power to keep dangerous, violent offenders in jail and the discretion to release poor non-violent offenders.
Note: The League erroneously included the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers' Association as supporters of the amendment. We regret the error.
On September 14, the NM Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the League of Women Voters vs. the Advisory Committee to the NM Compilation Commission case. The League argued that a simple majority — not a super-majority —was all that was needed for the electorate to approve Constitutional Amendments in 2008 and in 2014 allowing school elections to be held at the same time as other non-partisan elections. The Court also agreed that electorate approved a Constitutional Amendment in 2010 calling for the removal of the archaic and offensive language denying "idiots" and "insane persons" the right to vote.
The Supreme Court ordered the NM Compilation Commission to make the changes to Article VII, Section 1, of the NM Constitution immediately.
September 12, 2016: At 9 a.m. on September 14 the NM Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments on the League of Women Voters vs. the Advisory Committee to the NM Compilation Commission case, known as "the school elections case." The Writ of Mandamus that the League filed in 2015 argues that the electorate actually did approve Constitutional Amendments in 2008 and in 2014 allowing school elections to be held at the same time as other non-partisan elections.
If the Supreme Court is persuaded by the League's argument, the New Mexico Constitution will not only allow school elections to be combined with other non-partisan elections, it will remove the archaic and offensive language denying "idiots" and "insane persons" the right to vote.
September 10, 2016: The online version of our 2016 New Mexico Voter Guide is here! Stay tuned for PDF and print versions.
August 10, 2016:
LWVNM expresses its disappointment in having to cancel SOS candidate
forums in Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Santa Fe, but both candidates
are being invited to participate in local League candidate forums that
are scheduled for other races. Please check out the links to the local
Leagues to see when those forums are scheduled and who is
Listen to the discussion on Dateline New Mexico.
August 4, 2016: Recent Supreme and lower court decisions have demonstrated that photo ID laws have disenfranchised thousands of eligible voters. The GAO and the Brennan Center both found voting was suppressed in states with photo ID. Here's more information on Why We Oppose Voter ID Laws.
April 3, 2016: an editorial in the ABQ Journal by Richard Mason / Vice President, LWVNM. “It is time for the New Mexico executive and legislative branches to step up and do their jobs. Doing their jobs includes insuring that there is adequate revenue to fund essential government programs.”
On the agenda for Monday (Feb. 8) for the House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee was House Bill 336 — Public Peace, Health, Safety and Welfare. The league [of Women Voters in New Mexico] and other good government groups know that title shows that HB 336 is a placeholder or dummy bill with no content. During every session dummy bills are filed prior to the filing deadline so bills can be substituted later.
It’s time to stop this ridiculous practice that circumvents the legislative process and is a clear violation of the intent, if not actual content, of the Open Meetings Act. The league realizes it might be necessary to file a bill after the filing deadline, but that should be an open procedure approved by a majority vote of the relevant body. The public should be informed of the content of the proposed legislation in advance of any hearing.
Dr. Meredith R. Machen
President, League of Women Voters of New Mexico
Feb. 11 - NM Gov't Transparency Advocate Says Ethics Commission Amendment Could Stall In Senate.
League President, Meredith Machen, says that people are clamoring for ethics reform. The Senate should pass a joint resolution to concur with HJR5 Independent Ethics Commission (which passed House 50-10 on Feb. 9). Time is short, but this bipartisan legislation should be expedited to let the public decide (through a Constitutional amendment on the general election ballot) whether NM will join 42 other states with ethics commissions.
Listen to a KSFR podcast about it:: Podcast: NM Gov't Transparency Advocate Says Ethics Commission Amendment Could Stall In Senate
Save the date. Agenda details will be posted soon. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
KSFR Radio, 101.1 FM Santa Fe interviews President Meredith Machen on some of the bills LWVNM’s is following. The League has prioritized legislation calling for both an independent ethics commission and an independent redistricting commission, tightening campaign finance regulations, funding education fairly and adequately, and more. It opposes restricting women’s rights, voting rights, and corporate tax breaks. For LWVNM’s 2016 Priorities, see our Action page.
An editorial in the December 29, 2015 Santa Fe New Mexican, Our view: State should rethink charters, supports LWVNM in suggesting a moratorium on New Mexico charter schools. The New Mexican asks, "Are we spending precious — and often insufficient — tax dollars in the best way possible?"
In advance of New Mexico Public Education Department Secretary Hannah Skandera's presentation of her agency's budget request for the coming year, LWVNM President Meredith Machen was interviewed about her concerns about the effect of charter school funding on traditional public schools and privatization of education. PED has been approving an increasing number of charter schools over the past few years. According to a NM Legislative Finance Committee, almost half of the new dollars spent on public education from FY 2008-15 went to charter schools which serve only 6.6% of NM's K-12 students.
Listen here to the KSFR's report with comments from the League and from the CFO of Santa Fe Public Schools.
The Santa Fe New Mexican profiled our president, Meredith Machen, as part of their "10 Who Made a Difference" series: League of Women Voters president works to expand opportunities for all.
The League calls upon Governor Martinez and NM House and Senate leaders to establish a State Ethics Commission. NM is one of 8 states without one. An Ethics Commission would oversee and enforce ethics rules, campaign finance, and lobbying laws. Commissioners should be independent, impartial, and free from conflicts of interest and vetted through a nomination process. The Commission needs to be as removed as possible from partisan politics. It would receive allegations and complaints and conduct investigations according to established detailed standards. If the allegations were proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the commission would determine disciplinary action.
Zélie Pollon, News Director of KSFR.org has a recorded interview with Meredith Machen, President of New Mexico’s League. Listen here: Sep. 1 - The New Mexico League of Women Voters says it's time for ethics in Politics.
New Mexico needs to adopt clear definitions related to campaign
finance. The League calls upon legislators to follow the lead of the
City of Santa Fe, which adopted a set of the definitions July 2015:
Santa Fe, NM
Campaign Code 9-2 Definitions (PDF, 56K) or
(Full text on Santa Fe's website: Ordinance 2015-23, full text.)
Governmental transparency and budget accountability are required by statute and essential to taxpayers and creditors (“Auditor troubled over state’s unbalanced checkbook,” Aug. 21). The administration needs to rectify the problems with SHARE — Statewide Human Resources Accounting Reporting — and reveal the specifics regarding the missing $100 million to $400 million. The Department of Finance and Administration’s release of a very late and incomplete financial report puts New Mexico’s credit status at risk.
Government must provide accurate information. How can we expect legislators to make sound decisions on appropriations when the administration and agencies fail to submit audited expenditures on time? How can the Legislative Finance Committee develop a reasonable budget without accurate tracking of expenditures and balances? SHARE did have problems when implemented in 2008, but it’s 2015 and still no information.
Public scrutiny of open records builds trust and increases accountability. Meeting responsibilities is essential to a functional democracy. The administration should require all agencies to stick to their approved budgets and submit their audited reports for 2014 before the December deadline.
Meredith Machen, President
League of Women Voters of New Mexico
August 28, 2015
Ever wonder why payday lenders are allowed to charge up to 1,000 percent on payday and title loans? Read this article from the Albuquerque Free Press, 8/12/15: N.M. Payday Lenders Get Roundhouse Payoff.
The LWVUS Campaign Finance Position will be updated through a study and consensus process. Please see the calendar at your closest local League's website (link at left) to find out the schedule for the information and consensus meetings. While the public is invited to both events, only members can weigh in on the consensus questions.
Major topics being considered:
The LWVUS MIP Committee has ready-to-use resources and strategies to help understand the current system of campaign finance regulation.
More than 50 years ago, Congress declared May 1 “Law Day” to remind Americans of the unique role of the rule of law in guaranteeing our democracy’s ideals of equality and justice. President George Washington proclaimed, “The due administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government.” We count on our courts to operate efficiently and effectively day in and day out.
The failures of the 2015 legislative session suggest it’s time for New Mexicans to consider new ways to ensure that our state court system has the funds needed to serve the public. New Mexico’s funding procedures subject our judiciary, an independent and co-equal branch of government, to politics.
Recent news reports have highlighted the financial squeeze facing New Mexico’s 48 magistrate courts because of the governor’s veto of $750,000 for operating costs through this June. Most of the shortage would have been absorbed if the governor in 2014 hadn’t also vetoed the continuance of a $4 court fee also approved by the Legislature.
This session, after the courts demonstrated they had been frugal with taxpayer money but could not address the funding deficiency, lawmakers approved a supplemental appropriation. However, Gov. Susana Martinez disagreed, which is her prerogative with New Mexico’s current system. But the veto means lease payments on court buildings and state insurance premiums must be delayed in the final weeks of the budget year to leave enough money for the core functions of courts in handling cases. The State Board of Finance will consider the court’s request on May 19 for a $750,000 emergency grant. It should approve these funds.
No one questions the authority of the legislative branch to make the laws, the executive branch to carry out those laws and the judicial branch to interpret the laws to safeguard our constitutional rights. Fundamentally, however, does it make sense that a co-equal branch of government would have to petition for approval for basic operational funds to the legislative branch and then face veto by the executive branch?
A truly independent judiciary shouldn’t face that possibility. It’s time our policymakers open a debate on how we can adequately fund the courts without politics jeopardizing the judiciary’s constitutional obligation to provide fair and timely justice. It’s time for New Mexico to consider procedures other states use to determine the state judiciary’s budget.
In West Virginia, the courts submit a proposed budget to the Legislature, and the state’s constitution prohibits it from being reduced by lawmakers or by a gubernatorial veto. Shouldn’t New Mexico have a system whereby 3 percent of the budget is made available for judicial operations, with priorities determined internally through a very rigorous unified process? (Court funding for fiscal year 2016 calls for modest increases over this year, and the judiciary represents about 2.6 percent of the overall state budget.)
As Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Vigil said in her legislative address, “When the judiciary is given the resources necessary to function efficiently, all of New Mexico will benefit.” New Mexicans should assign a high priority to funding our courts sufficiently and appropriately because of the pivotal roles they play in addressing economic and social issues, ensuring fairness and uniformity in the administration of justice, safeguarding the welfare of the public and protecting the liberties we cherish.
Meredith Machen, President
League of Women Voters of New Mexico
May 2, 2015
Almost two-thirds of Santa Fe’s voters approved public financing for the mayoral race in 2008, but the recent election exposed flaws with independent expenditures. We can fix the system, as other municipalities have done in the wake of Citizens United, by allowing small contributions to certified candidates. Senate Bill 58 forbids coordination between independent PACs and local candidates.
Now that it passed the Senate with bipartisan support, we urge the House to approve it and send it to the governor for signature. The bill guarantees that stringent ethical procedures will be used when candidates for covered offices are eligible for taxpayer money. Just think how productive our Legislature would be if we had public financing for legislative races as well. Many qualified individuals do not run for our volunteer Legislature because they refuse to be beholden to political groups and special interests and/or to approach anonymous donors.
Meredith Machen, President
League of Women Voters of New Mexico
March 2, 2015