LWV New Mexico Positions
as of April 25, 2021
The positions of the League of Women Voters are the result of thorough study of issues where governmental policies can make a difference. In addition to the LWVUS national positions, local Leagues and the state League choose topics for study, called the "Program." On the basis of our positions, the League determines its priorities for action and advocacy.
The League of Women Voters is a grassroots organization. At the local, state and national League levels, action on public policy can be taken only after member study and consensus or concurrence has led to a position. Consensus is a process whereby members through discussion decide the "sense of the group." Concurrence is the act of agreeing with the positions reached by other Leagues after studying similar issues. Studies are also done to revise or update positions. Action and educating the public are the ultimate aims of all League programs.
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico believes that potential impacts on sustainability should be considered in formulating new positions and in advocating using current positions. Sustainability is defined as meeting the needs of the current generation without impairing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
CIVIL ENGAGEMENT/CIVIL DISCOURSE(Adopted 2019)
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico promotes civil discourse through action and education for all government bodies, staff, and citizens for the purpose of improved public policy decisions and processes. Civil discourse means, at a minimum, mutually respectful, courteous, constructive, and orderly communication.
Administration of Justice
(Adopted 1962; revised 1987, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2022)
Position in Brief:
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico believes in a justice system that ensures fair and humane treatment under the law for all persons regardless of legal status, is effective, equitable, and transparent, that fosters public trust at all stages, including law enforcement practices, pre-trial procedures, alternative sentencing, incarceration, and re-entry. All components must be adequately funded and coordinated in order to carry out these goals.
A high functioning law enforcement system is committed to the following principles and policies:
- eliminating systemic bias;
- focusing on humane treatment and rehabilitation with the goal of promoting the successful reentry into communities of those who have been incarcerated;
- standardizing and sharing data among criminal justice and law enforcement agencies;
- relying on evidence-based research in decision-making about law enforcement programs and policies (including scheduled, periodic audits of program and policy effectiveness).
LWVNM supports the following policies for law enforcement:
- promoting safety practices for both law enforcement officers and the communities they serve;
- building public trust and positive collaborative relationships through engagement with community members;
- providing accountability via independent civilian oversight of law enforcement and publicly available data on officer conduct;
- providing sufficient psychological services and counseling to meet stress-related needs of personnel;
- staffing departments to reflect the diversity of the communities they serve;
- training officers to identify individuals with behavioral health conditions, disabilities, or substance abuse/addiction, so that officers will request support from appropriate medical and behavioral health professionals with the goal of diverting those individuals into treatment instead of jail;
- training officers on de-escalation techniques;
- providing anti-bias training for all staff;
- requiring all officers to render first aid to people who have been injured as a result of officer action;
- conducting comprehensive background checks for all applicants to law enforcement and corrections positions;
- authorizing minimal use of force and considering deadly force only when necessary to prevent imminent death or serious bodily injury.
Selection of Judges
Judges of New Mexico’s state courts, i.e., Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, District Courts, and Metropolitan Courts should be appointed by the governor from a screened list submitted by a nonpartisan nominating commission and only be subject, at intervals, to nonpartisan election for retention or rejection.
Public Defender Program
The League supports an adequately funded government-supported public defender program that provides legal aid to those unable to pay.
Guidelines for Criminal Penalties
The League supports consideration of the individual circumstances of the person charged and nature of the crime. When appropriate, split sentencing and/or alternatives to incarceration should be explored and utilized to ease the burden on the criminal justice system. The League opposes mandatory minimum sentences, especially for drug offenses. The League supports the expansion of prevention and treatment programs, therapeutic courts, and pre-trial diversion programs. Alternatives to incarceration programs should emphasize diversion and reintegration into the community. These programs should be separate from correctional facilities. The community must be educated regarding these alternatives.
The League opposes the death penalty and prefers a sentence of life in prison without parole as an alternative.
If the death penalty is reinstated, LWVNM supports the implementation of the recommendations in the Final Report of the State Bar of New Mexico Task Force to Study the Administration of the Death Penalty in New Mexico (January 2004) including:
- adequate defense funding for capital cases;
- a comprehensive proportionality study, including the development of a complete database of homicide prosecutions in New Mexico;
- high standards for defense counsel at all stages of the proceedings.
- allowing opponents of the death penalty to serve on the jury for the first trial (to determine guilt or innocence) in a capital case.
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico supports a unified court system, adequately financed, with centralized administration and fiscal control.
The League believes that the law enforcement, judicial, and corrections systems must be adequately funded and professionally staffed in order to carry out their goals. Funding of specialized programs for offenders, including behavioral health and substance abuse treatment, is essential. The League supports sufficient funding to guarantee humane incarceration and to provide programs and services that offer the opportunity for self-improvement. The League believes that state funding should be provided for alternatives to incarceration. There must be adequate personnel for all courts.
Policies for Incarceration
LWVNM supports the following policies for incarceration:
- ensuring that incarcerated people and corrections officers have clear, safe and accessible ways to report abuse;
- addressing recidivism by instituting programs that focus on rehabilitation, education, behavioral health treatment, substance abuse recovery, and transitional programs;
- adapting case management services to match education, behavior, job training, work, and behavioral health programs with the needs of incarcerated individuals;
- providing sufficient psychological services, including training and evaluation, to meet the needs of corrections officers;
- encouraging family and community visitations and ways to maintain contact;
- eliminating private prisons. Until space in public prisons is available, ensure that private prisons comply with all of the standards for state-run jails and prisons;
- providing pre- and post-release programs, inclusive of probation services, to prepare as well as assess and address the needs of people re-entering the community.
LWVNM believes that the system should provide:
- trained and qualified judges, police, probation personnel, lawyers, providers, appointed advocates and others in the juvenile justice system;
- local forensic diagnostic and/or evaluation services;
- treatment programs to meet identified needs;
- due process and legal representation at all stages of the child's contact with the law;
- provision of legal and safe detention accommodations for all juveniles in custody;
- monitoring of substitute care through Citizens Review Boards and Court Appointed Special Advocates;
- education for all youth in the juvenile justice system.
Apportionment and Redistricting(Adopted 2009; revised 2013)
LWVNM supports a redistricting process and standards that provide the people with a meaningful choice in electing their representatives and facilitate holding government accountable.
The criteria for preparing redistricting maps should require that districts meet all Federal criteria including equal population and the provisions of the Voting Rights Act. In addition, it is important that districts
- be contiguous
- be reasonably compact, in terms of travel time from one part of the district to another
- avoid crossing geographic barriers to travel, such as mountain ranges
- minimize the partition of major jurisdictions (counties, municipalities) to the extent possible
- not intentionally favor any political party.
The League supports having an independent commission or other independent group develop redistricting plans meeting these criteria.
The public must have access to all information used in the redistricting process on a timely basis, and have the opportunity to comment and be heard on the proposed redistricting processes, criteria, and results.
Campaign Finance and Ethics(Adopted 1993; revised 1999, 2002, 2007)
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico believes that methods of financing political campaigns and public offices should ensure the public's right to know, combat corruption and undue influence, maximize fiscal accountability and transparency, and allow maximum citizen participation in the political process.
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico supports legislative compensation that is fair and reasonable, recognizing that there is a cost to government and that the cost should be paid by the taxpayers of New Mexico.
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico supports a fair, equitable and reasonable combination of public/private funding of campaigns for New Mexico state elective offices. Participation in the public/private financing should be voluntary. Participants should agree to voluntary spending limits. The legislation should provide for a source of revenue to fund the program.
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico supports limits on gifts and contributions to candidates for elected offices and to the holders of elected and appointed offices.
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico supports firm and consistent enforcement of campaign finance, gift and contribution reporting laws with significant penalties for non-compliance and wide public dissemination of reports.
An independent office or commission should have the authority to oversee campaign finance and gift laws as well as other ethics rules and lobbying laws, to receive allegations and complaints, to conduct investigations and to present cases to the appropriate enforcement agencies.
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico supports a New Mexico Constitution which is concise and comprehensible, providing a basic framework adaptable to present and future needs of state government. LWVNM supports a less restrictive amending process in the Constitution.
Election Procedures(Adopted 1969; revised 1999, revised 2001, 2007, 2018, 2021)
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico supports
- protection of the right of every citizen to vote;
- verifiable and auditable procedures to guarantee the integrity of all statutory methods of voting in New Mexico;
- funding to meet the requirements of the law and to serve the needs of the voters to ensure that elections are conducted accurately, fairly, and efficiently;
- a centralized voter registration and election management system;
- statewide uniformity in early voting for all elections;
- an all-inclusive system of voting that allows all registered voters to participate in the primary election so that voters who are not enrolled in a major political party may vote on one ballot per primary without having to enroll in that particular party;
- more direct citizen involvement in the candidate selection process for special elections to fill a vacancy;
- consolidation of elections in New Mexico;
- methods that increase voter participation, including automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration;
- systems that improve the election experience and provide ease of ballot access including vote-by-mail, supplemented by secure ballot drop boxes and accessible voting centers.
- amending the State Constitution to allow run-off elections in the case of non-partisan elections;
- ranked choice voting for all statewide elections.
Executive(Adopted 1969; revised 1983, 1995)
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico supports four-year terms for state executive officers, preferably elected in non-presidential years with limitation of two consecutive terms in the same office. LWVNM supports a shortened ballot.
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico supports legislative compensation that is fair and reasonable, recognizing that there is a cost to government and that the cost should be paid by the taxpayers of New Mexico.
The League recommends:
- paying a salary that is high enough to attract and retain qualified, committed legislators;
- providing legislators with adequate legal research and office assistance;
- requiring legislative procedures and schedules to promote efficiency, transparency, accountability, and public accessibility.
Local Government(Adopted 1969; revised 2000)
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico supports home rule for municipalities.
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico supports a combined form of city/county government.
Public Regulation Commission(Adopted 2012; revised 2013, 2023)
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico supports the following with respect to the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) and the entity regulating insurance:
- PRC candidates should be evaluated on the basis of qualifications by a broad-based nonpartisan process.
- Candidates for the PRC should have education and/or appropriate professional experience in a related field or in consumer advocacy. There should also be mandated, ongoing professional training for Commissioners.
- The PRC should be funded by assessments on the industries that it regulates and those funds should be sequestered from the general fund.
- The legislature should approve a budget sufficient to enable the PRC to carry out its allotted duties successfully.
- Insurance and Utilities should be regulated by separate agencies.
- The laws forbidding ex parte communications between Commissioners and those who are interested parties in cases before the PRC should be very strong, and penalties for violating these laws also should be strengthened.
- The PRC should have an inspector general charged with reviewing practices for handling incoming payments properly, conducting internal audits of other functions, and pursuing such other investigations as are deemed necessary.
- The PRC Commissioners and advisory staff should be prohibited from working in a business regulated by the PRC for at least 1 year after they complete their tenure at the PRC.
- Consumer interests should have strong representation when the PRC is making policy decisions and setting rates.
State Finance(Adopted 1971; revised 1975, 1983, 1989, 2017)
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico believes that a fair tax must be
- equitable, taking into consideration relevant differences between persons, such as their annual income
- certain, not arbitrary
- convenient with respect to timing and manner of payment
- economical to collect
- adequate to finance the essentials of government.
The tax system in New Mexico should be progressive. LWVNM may support taxes that are regressive if it is determined that the tax will achieve a socially desirable objective.
In evaluating the average burden of taxation within the state, taxes should be compared with income of New Mexico residents; in comparing the burden of taxation in New Mexico with the burden imposed by other states, state and local taxes should be combined.
Tax credits and/or deductions should be evaluated based on promotion of equity and the efficiency with which they achieve their purpose.
Tax credits may be a means of providing relief from the regressive nature of the sales and property tax.
The League believes it is the state's obligation to collect revenues to fund services that are generally state responsibilities, rather than depend on cities and counties to raise the funds.
State Personnel(Adopted 1954; revised 1983)
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico supports a merit system of selection, retention, promotion and dismissal of personnel in state government.
Term Limits(Adopted 1992; revised 1995)
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico opposes term limits for our state legislators.
Transparency in State and Local Governments(Adopted 2011)
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico (LWVNM) expects all state and local governments, executive and legislative, to follow the requirements of the New Mexico Open Meetings Act (OMA) and Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA).
LWVNM also recommends that all state and local governments, executive and legislative, adopt the following policies and practices regarding open meetings and public records, over and above what is legally required by the OMA and the IPRA, within reasonable budget constraints:
- Maintain a comprehensive list of all meetings that are open to the public, along with their time, place, and agenda. With the exception of emergency meetings, announce public meetings at least one week in advance, using display ads in standard public media and on the government web site. To the extent that is practical, have all written materials that will be used in a public meeting available a week in advance, preferably on-line, or let the public know where and how such materials can be obtained.
- Broadcast as many public meetings as possible, in both real-time and an archived format, preferably on-line.
- Allow time and access for public input on important issues.
- Develop and publish a policy concerning public attendance and participation at meetings of government bodies that are not covered by the OMA.
- Make draft minutes of public meetings available to the public as soon as they are filed with the clerk or other appropriate official.
In order to avoid the possibility or the perception that executive sessions may be used to keep from informing the public on certain issues, the League recommends the following policies on executive sessions:
- Hold meetings in executive session only when absolutely necessary, even though the OMA may allow otherwise.
- Include an explanation of the purpose of the executive session in the meeting agenda.
- Keep a public record of all attendees at executive sessions and make that information public when the public body reconvenes after executive session.
- On important matters of wide public interest that have been discussed in executive session, publish a draft motion based on what was discussed in executive session and allow public input on it at a public meeting before a vote is taken.
Inspection of Public Records
- Create an inspection of public records policy and procedure whose goal is to help the public obtain the maximum amount of information they may want to discover about their government and do so in a timely and cost-effective manner.
- Publish a price list for copying different types of public records.
- Develop a policy regarding the production and cost of spreadsheets, lists, and other reports which may not already exist as public documents but whose data exist within government files and in which there is a public interest.
- Use the government website as a repository of all information that is most likely to be needed by the public, including (but not limited to) open meetings and public records policies, meeting lists, proposed agendas, minutes, contents of meeting packets, frequently requested documents, contact information for government employees, resolutions and ordinances, personnel and procurement policies, and the location and mission of various departments and divisions.
- Use the government website as a repository for searchable budget and financial records, including operating budgets, expenditures over a specified amount, checks/warrants and any other budget and financial information made available to the governing body. These data should be in a non-proprietary format that maximizes the public's ability to download and analyze data.
- Ensure that the government website is easy to use and search, that the information posted there is timely and up-to-date, and that it provides for interactive processes, such as requests for public records, whenever feasible.
LWVNM recommends that state and local governments go beyond open meetings and inspection of public records in their efforts toward open, accessible governance. We especially recommend these practices:
- State and local governments' resolutions, ordinances, or published policies should cover ethics and conflict of interest, providing sanctions for violations.
- Managers responsible for transparency should be trained and evaluated according to relevant statutes, policies, resolutions and ordinances. Elected officials should receive training on statutes and other mandates applicable to them.
- State and local governments should encourage input and listen to their constituents. They should make it easy for constituents to comment on local issues, and as budgets allow they should periodically assess the needs, desires, and satisfaction of their constituents. They should respond to constituents' recommendations by changing policies and practices or providing explanations when they reject such input.
- State and local governments should provide timely and complete information to their constituents on current topics.
- State and local governments should provide up-to-date, easy-to-find information about their office locations, building directories, organization charts, and contact information for managers of key functions.
ENVIRONMENT(Adopted 1976; revised 1987, 2015, 2023)
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico believes that government should promote and ensure responsible stewardship of our natural, human, and cultural resources, particularly in the face of growth and development.
The League supports the conservation and protection of wildlife and their habitats for the contribution they make toward the health and sustainability of the environment.
An essential prerequisite for protecting our resources is to require comprehensive analysis of the environmental and fiscal impacts of applications before issuing a development permit.
LWVNM recognizes the vital contribution that New Mexico farmers and ranchers make to our health and welfare by supplying us with food and promoting a vibrant economy for the state. LWVNM urges the state to work with the industry to promote research and education about more sustainable agricultural practices. As stewards of our natural and human resources, we must preserve healthy local ecosystems for future generations.
The LWVNM urges the State of New Mexico to
- provide training programs on sustainable farming and ranching practices;
- provide assistance to institutions of higher learning within the state to integrate sustainable agricultural practices into their curriculum;
- regulate the management of livestock and crops to prevent contamination of soil, air, and water;
- encourage farmers and ranchers to cooperate with wildlife managers to actively preserve and restore riparian habitat and natural stream flows;
- provide more funding for the Cooperative Extension Service for the support of local agriculture.
The League supports programs that protect clean air. Effective air pollution controls should be implemented for both stationary and mobile sources of emissions.
The New Mexico Environment Department is the chief regulatory agency responsible for air quality protection in the state. It is important that the public has access to the regulation development process and that the subsequent permitting and enforcement ensure that air quality is protected from deterioration. Permitting and enforcement must be performed in a transparent manner.
The scientific evidence is clear that our climate is changing and that human activities resulting in the emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gases are significant factors in the heating of the planet. The League supports policies and incentives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting greater energy efficiency; by developing clean, renewable energy sources; and by encouraging further research on alternatives to the combustion of fossil fuels for energy. Industries in New Mexico should be required to pursue carbon reduction strategies. The League also believes that government should educate the public about how to reduce individual carbon footprints and should offer incentives to do so.
Energy and Mining
The League supports
- environmentally sound resource extraction, power production and transmission;
- strong measures to promote conservation of energy and water;
- rigorous regulation and enforcement to prevent mining and drilling activities from contaminating surface or ground water or the surrounding landscape;
- taxes on resource extraction and energy development in order to assist communities with associated infrastructure costs;
- adequate bonding or other financial guarantees for mining and drilling activities to fund clean-up operations in the event of abandonment by companies.
The League believes that government must conduct its programs, policies, and activities in a manner that promotes equity and affords fair treatment, accessibility, and protection for all residents, regardless of race, age, culture, income, or geographic location.
The League finds that the responsible management of our land is critically important to ensure the long-term health and well-being of all New Mexicans, to protect the resilience of our urban and rural communities, and to preserve habitats and natural landscapes for the continued viability of all species.
The League further notes that land use is inextricably linked with other important issues such as water, energy, food, transportation, air quality, and climate change. Strategic planning at the local, regional, and state levels must not consider land use in isolation. Government subsidies for development should only be approved when the benefit to society justifies the full cost and outweighs any detriment to the natural environment.
The League believes that, as the responsible steward of our land use resources, state government should
- revise land use planning, zoning, and subdivision statutes to better protect our natural resources;
- provide oversight, technical assistance, and funding to ensure that all communities are able to comply with comprehensive planning requirements;
- require comprehensive planning by local governments that is
- updated on a regular basis;
- consistent with regional water plans;
- implemented by zoning and subdivision ordinances;
- ensure coordination among key state agencies responsible for stewardship of our state’s resources;
- improve communication and coordination between Native American communities and federal, state, and local governments in New Mexico;
- encourage local communities to enact measures to conserve energy, integrate transportation planning, consider availability of water and other resources;
- protect the quality of the environment for people of all economic levels;
- preserve open space and natural habitat for wildlife by identifying and regulating areas of critical concern including fragile areas, wildlife corridors, historic areas, riparian habitats, and natural hazard lands.
Transparency and public participation in decision-making must be part of the process at all levels of government.
A substantial portion of the land in New Mexico is controlled by the State Land Office (SLO). The LWVNM believes that the SLO should practice transparency and accountability in its actions and should include local communities in decision-making. The State Legislature should ensure that the State Land Commissioner has the support needed to maximize profits and minimize administrative costs, while protecting the environment and preserving the long-term value of the land.
Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel and Greater than Class C Waste(Adopted 2021)
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico (LWVNM) supports comprehensive measures to provide protection of human health and the environment from any adverse effects of the storage of radioactive materials produced by nuclear energy, including Spent Nuclear Fuel (SNF) and Greater than Class C Waste (GTCC). LWVNM supports the storage of SNF/GTCC only when it is implemented in a manner that protects public health, safety and the environment and when it is in compliance with all state and federal laws and regulations. In general, the League supports:
- Policies for the management of SNF/GTCC wastes to protect public health and air, water, and land resources;
- The establishment of processes for effective involvement of state and local government and citizens in siting proposals for storage of radioactive wastes;
- Full environmental review of storage facilities for radioactive wastes;
- Safe transport, storage, and disposal of radioactive wastes;
- Financial guarantees to cover costs of accidents, clean-up and reclamation; and
- Federal ownership and management of storage facilities.
1. Federal vs Private Site Ownership and Management
The League strongly recommends Federal management of SNF/GTCC storage facilities rather than management by private corporations to maximize oversight and transparency. The public must be able to monitor the adequacy of operations and the implementation of safety measures to reduce radiation exposure to the lowest reasonably achievable level.
Radiation exposure must consider time (radioactive decay), distance (proximity to radioactive material), and shielding (adequate containment that maintains its integrity throughout the storage and related transport, inspection, and handling operations). Contamination of the soil and surface and ground water must be prevented.
Privately owned/operated facilities should be considered only if the operations comply with all federal laws.
2. Public Participation
The public has the right to know the potentially harmful effects of materials they encounter in the workplace and community. Residents must be included in the planning and decision-making processes for SNF and GTCC material management decisions. Adequate funding to promote public participation should be available and all options, including in-person and virtual means, for participation during public comment periods must be made available to all residents. Local communities of all sizes, including sovereign nations, must be involved to the greatest extent possible.
3. New Mexico Regulatory Structure
The State of New Mexico should establish an integrated regulatory structure with provisions at least as strict as those of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) clearly delineating jurisdictional and agency responsibilities for the safe storage of radioactive waste generated from power operations. The regulatory agency should include adequate budget and staff and be accountable to the public. It must be adequately staffed by qualified technical personnel with the education, experience, and authority necessary to sufficiently monitor SNF/GTCC storage facility compliance. The body must have the authority to impose penalties for any violations.
4. Specific Criteria
When considering any license application or proposal for developing an interim storage site, whether from a public or private entity in New Mexico, the following criteria must all be satisfied:
- Ensure that any privately owned/operated SNF/GTCC storage facility, if approved, operates in accordance with all safety controls required for licensing of government-owned or utility-owned SNF storage facilities;
- Ensure that current Aging Management Programs (AMPs) are imposed at all SNF and GTCC storage facilities. The AMPs must be monitored and upgraded as new research results become available and new technologies are developed to minimize radiation exposure and to extend storage for a longer period if needed.
- Require that SNF storage facility owner/operators adequately characterize the subsurface geology and hydrology of a proposed site using modern techniques to ensure that no potential hazards are present and to ensure that no hydraulic fracturing or wastewater disposal wells are located close to the site. Require the evaluation of the impact on local archaeological and cultural sites and consultation with the New Mexico Environment Department.
- Ensure that any private contracting of SNF/GTCC transportation complies with both NRC/Department of Transportation/Agreement State requirements and with the same New Mexico and tribal notification requirements as for government transportation.
- Ensure that financial and liability responsibilities for transporting the waste, for funding for necessary upgrades to rail lines and roads used for SNF transport, and for cleanup in case of an accident are assigned to the federal government, not to New Mexico, prior to license approval for interim storage facilities.
- Ensure that the federal government is responsible for costs associated with emergency responders in case of accidents during shipping.
- Ensure that requirements for repackaging SNF/GTCC prior to acceptance at a proposed SNF storage facility will be sufficient to resist fuel degradation and cask corrosion or deterioration so integrity of casks is maintained throughout the storage period. Require contingency plans for maintaining cask integrity at interim sites.
- Ensure that NRC evaluation of the licensing documents for a SNF/GTCC storage facility adequately covers all risk factors prior to approval. Ensure that the 2020 NRC rulemaking for GTCC storage provides adequate protection of the public and the environment until a permanent U.S. solution for SNF/GTCC disposal is approved.
- Require a private applicant for a storage facility license to establish a liability trust fund, analogous to the decommissioning fund, as a financial assurance to the community in case of an accident. Alternatively, require a private owner/operator of a nuclear waste storage facility in New Mexico to have a letter of indemnification from a bank or other financial institution to pay for costs incurred in the event of an accident at the site, a leak of radioactive materials, and clean-up of the site after abandonment. Such indemnification should cover individuals and/or communities for economic damages caused by involuntary exposure to radioactive materials.
- Require that financial resources be available to comply with safety regulations or that the storage facilities be indemnified by federal government extension of the Price Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnification Act to ensure continued worker and public safety and protection of the environment.
- Require compensation to the local community and to the state for normal operations. Funding committed to communities should be defined prior to approval and transparency measures should permit New Mexico to determine whether these financial assurances are adequate. The compensation should be commensurate with the risk of having a SNF/GTCC waste storage facility in New Mexico for sixty or seventy years as tourism and development may be impacted significantly, requiring more incentives than the limited employment that these facilities will contribute to the economy.
Transfer of Federal Public Lands(Adopted 2019, Revised 2020)
The League believes that federal public lands should benefit all Americans. The lands should remain under the jurisdiction of the federal government with Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands managed according to the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield policy. We support improvements in management and regulation.
Federal law allows for the sale or exchange of federal lands if it is in the public interest. Prior to any transfer, a comprehensive assessment that covers the following issues should be performed:
- environmental analysis, including air and water quality, biodiversity, endangered and threatened species
- health impacts
- environmental justice
- suitability of proposed land use
- subsurface resources
- financial/economic impacts
- cultural resources
- public access
- management for fire and other natural disasters
- tribal consultation.
The League is opposed to the sale of federal lands to private entities except for small tracts surrounded by nonfederal lands.
The League is opposed to the transfer of subsurface rights to the state or other entities. Any development of subsurface rights on federal land should benefit all Americans.
The League believes it is important to integrate transportation into land use planning. To reduce vehicle miles traveled, it is essential to encourage alternatives to the single occupant vehicle. Thus, the League supports government decisions to
- improve public access to integrated mass transit systems, especially to link workplace and neighborhood destinations;
- improve public access to alternative forms of transportation such as cycling and walking.
The League calls for government agencies responsible for transportation planning to reach out to the general public to improve public participation in transportation-related decisions. All future road projects should take into account the needs of all people.
The League supports policies that
- reduce the generation and promote the reuse and recycling of waste materials;
- ensure safe treatment, transportation, storage and disposal of materials that cannot be re-used or recycled in order to protect public health and natural resources;
- involve state and local governments and citizens in the consideration of proposals for treatment, storage, disposal and transportation of materials;
- ensure that the full cost of remediation is borne by those who cause the pollution.
The League supports stringent regulations to protect ground and surface water quality from pollution that can impact human health as well as the natural flora and fauna. Such regulations must be strictly enforced.
Water Resources/Supply(Adopted 2010)
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico believes that consumptive use of water in New Mexico must be in balance with renewable supply. Healthy ecosystems naturally perform services that benefit both people and nature, such as cleaning water, reducing floods, and creating fish and wildlife habitat. To secure the benefits of functioning ecosystems and to conserve New Mexico's biodiversity, sufficient water must be budgeted for environmental flows. The creation and adherence to comprehensive water budgets is essential to preserve public lands, water, and open space, and to ensure that there will be enough water for future generations of New Mexicans. The state, water regions, and local governments must
- monitor and measure all water resources and uses, and publish this information;
- use a public process to create and follow water budgets;
- educate citizens on their responsibilities as well as their rights;
- promote strategies to reduce demand;
- minimize water contamination in order to promote the health and safety of all life;
- preserve and restore rivers and watersheds.
Conservation of water and efficiency of use must be encouraged to enable New Mexico to meet its interstate compact obligations, to help balance use with supply, to relieve stress on the physical system, and to reduce net depletion.
Regional Water Planning
The League supports continued funding for regional planning. Using a public process, regional planning should
- gather and publish data on supply and demand, and provide regular updates;
- create a balanced water budget;
- identify critical and emerging issues.
Local land use plans should be required to be consistent with applicable regional water plans.
The public welfare statements of a regional water plan should be considered by the State Engineer when reviewing applications for transfer of water rights.
Land Use and Water
Land use and development must be tied to water availability. To encourage this
- Compliance with water availability determinations by the Office of the State Engineer (OSE) under the Subdivision Act should be mandatory.
- Review of subdivision applications pursuant to the Subdivision Act should be expanded to encompass all divisions of land.
- Long-term cumulative impacts as well as short-term water requirements of development should be taken into consideration by the local permitting authority.
- The applicant must be required to acquire water rights before development can proceed.
- The impact of any transfer of water rights on the area of origin must be assessed.
- The permitting authority should evaluate the impact of proposed developments on "public welfare" as defined by the applicable regional water plan and be able to demonstrate that the proposed development is consistent with the plan.
- New residential and commercial developments should be water-efficient.
- Growth should not be permitted where water is not available.
Local zoning and subdivision statutes should be updated. State and local governments should collaborate in addressing the problem of antiquated subdivisions in order to facilitate planning and to make the water budget process meaningful.
Role of Government
State government and the legal process must work to reconcile the many claims on New Mexico water in a manner that is open and as fair as possible. Among other considerations
- Communal as well as private interests must be respected in applying water law;
- Maintenance of in-stream flow and general ecological health must be recognized as a "beneficial use" of water.
The Office of the State Engineer should be adequately funded to execute its functions. In addition
- The OSE must be given more authority to regulate domestic well permits. Improved regulation and monitoring of domestic wells and septic systems is essential to protect groundwater supplies and should be adequately funded.
- The effort to gather data must be coordinated and adequately funded by the state, which should establish consistent protocols, accounting methods, and terminology.
- The state should also help implement the regional water plans and provide coordination among planning activities at the different levels of government and across river basins.
Government should support research on water-related issues including
- methods to manage and store water that lose less to evaporation,
- best agricultural practices that optimize the use of water for both farmers and downstream users, while sustaining the natural flow;
- urban systems that maximize water re-use;
- health of the state's rivers and watersheds.
Governments at every level must educate citizens by developing and disseminating data about water resources. Local governments must promulgate and enforce regulations promoting conservation, including positive incentives and rate structures.
The League supports the conservation and protection of wildlife and
their habitats for the contribution they make toward the health and
sustainability of the environment.
(Adopted 1987; revised 1995, 2009, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2021)
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico believes that education is the foundation for a strong and viable democracy. As a multicultural and multilingual state, New Mexico must incorporate the principle of educational equity in its practices and policies to ensure the highest level of academic achievement for all students. The public education system should impart to students an understanding of the nature of democracy, the ability to think critically, and the skills necessary to function successfully in a complex society.
LWVNM believes that every student should have access to a high-quality, equitable publicly funded education regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, family income, or geographical location. Each student should be respected as an individual in learning environments that value diverse cultures.
The League supports public schools as the primary institutions for educating students and opposes the presence of private, for-profit companies in the governance, management, and provision of public education. LWVNM believes that the Public Education Commission should use its Constitutional authority to advise the department on policy matters and perform other functions as provided by law.
The League believes in accountability, transparency, and equity in the use of public funds for education.
Essential elements for a high-quality, equitable education system include knowledgeable and skillful educators provided with relevant professional development options; early childhood education and care programs; multicultural and multilingual education with challenging academic content; physical, social, and mental health support services for students based on data; learning technologies and infrastructure, college and career preparation programs; and opportunities for post-secondary education, with sufficient funding and resources distributed effectively and equitably.
Teachers, Administrators, and Staff:
- Implement measures to improve the preparation, recruitment, and professional development of quality educators with in-depth knowledge in core academic subjects and instructional strategies.
- Provide adequate funding to attract and retain an educational workforce that reflects the diversity of New Mexico’s students.
- Ensure that educators utilize materials that are culturally sensitive and address potentially prejudicial or biased information and behavior.
- Provide educators with strategies to help them explore the cultural backgrounds of their students and develop content relevant to their students’ experiences.
- Train educators to use effective strategies to help English language learners.
- Provide meaningful, ongoing professional development in technological, multicultural, and social-emotional learning to support students in classroom and online learning.
- Provide high-quality mentoring and teaming opportunities for teachers.
- Compensate educators with salaries that are competitive with other professions requiring similar skills and implement measures to attract and retain well-qualified teachers, support personnel, and administrators.
Early Childhood Education:
- Fund sufficiently a broad base of social service agencies, providers, and schools to foster the development of children from birth to age five and prepare them for success in school and life.
- Provide quality early childhood care providers and educators with culturally, linguistically, and developmentally appropriate programming and access to resources through cross-agency partnerships.
- Emphasize holistic development of preschoolers through programming that supports social, emotional, cognitive, and physical learning.
- Provide programs that encourage increased family involvement in the education of their children.
- Use the Common Core State Standards to provide a framework for knowledge and the academic skills that students are expected to master, with flexibility to determine how the standards are learned and assessed.
- Develop to each student's highest potential the knowledge and skills needed for success along with a broad understanding and appreciation of history and prospects for the future.
- Cultivate each student's capacity to solve problems and make decisions.
- Provide opportunities for all students to develop their aesthetic awareness and creative abilities.
- Foster an awareness of the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of participation in a democratic society.
- Foster an understanding of basic economic principles and the need to manage resources for the benefit of both present and future generations.
- Provide the tools to make wise college and career choices and to understand the importance of each individual's work in the local, national, and world economies.
- Promote practices that lead to physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
- Enhance the sense of community within the school, as a microcosm of the larger society, through standards of conduct that reflect a concern for the opinions, values, aspirations, and well-being of all.
- Develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills of students through experiential learning, project-based learning, and through the use of technology.
- Maintain and use health and social service teams in the schools to identify and work with students and their parents or caregivers, with referrals to appropriate community agencies when necessary.
- Integrate civics education at all educational levels.
Promoting Continuous Improvement in Learning:
- Focus student evaluation on student academic progress rather than rigid standards of proficiency.
- Use student testing to assist teachers in providing effective and timely strategies for student academic achievement.
- Implement measures to improve the preparation, recruitment, professional development, and retention of quality educators with in-depth knowledge in core academic subjects and instructional strategies.
- Follow due process procedures when terminating teachers and principals who do not meet minimum standards.
- Base assessment of school and teacher performance on overall quality of the education provided to the students and improvements in student academic growth as measured by multiple methods, including professional observations.
The League believes that all qualified students should have the opportunity to acquire a postsecondary education and that successful participation should be aided by a variety of resources. Postsecondary education includes public career-technical, community college, undergraduate, and graduate institutions. Preschool, elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education should be viewed as a continuum leading to lifelong learning.
- Prepare students for increasingly difficult academic work and explain graduation standards and expectations.
- Provide information to middle school and high school students and families regarding academic and financial issues related to attending postsecondary education institutions, including the variety of options and dual credit.
- Provide state-funded need-based financial aid to enable all qualified students to attain a postsecondary education.
- Increase state-funded merit-based scholarships to attract and retain high quality students from New Mexico.
- Facilitate positive engagement in learning, using a variety of resources to support students socially and emotionally, and improve academic performance.
- Collaborate with all sectors of the community to improve public education at all levels.
- Seek business cooperation in offering work schedules that support school attendance.
- Ask businesses and community organizations to provide support and find work or service opportunities for students, to create incentives to encourage students to develop career skills and graduate from high school and post-secondary institutions.
- Implement programs that increase the engagement of families in the education of students at all grade levels.
- Develop partnerships in order to provide expanded and enriched learning opportunities, student health and social services, active family and community engagement, and collaborative leadership practices. (SFC)
Charter schools are discretionary programs intended to fill unmet needs and/or to test innovative instructional strategies to produce quality educational outcomes. Before authorizing or reauthorizing charter schools, policy makers must ensure that adequate funds are available for traditional public schools. A charter school should not be authorized unless it would serve a need the traditional schools cannot, and there is a demonstrated need based on student population projections. Appropriate instructional and support services must be provided in all public schools to meet the diverse needs of individual students.
For the sake of assuring accountability and transparency and minimizing the fiscal impact of charter schools, LWVNM recommends the following:
- Require charter school finances and budget processes be available for public scrutiny and provide opportunities for public input into decision-making.
- Require charter school governing council members to adhere to standards and best practices as delineated by the NM School Boards Association, Public Education Department regulations, and state statutes.
- Minimize the amount allocated to for-profit management and business operations with oversight provided by state-approved auditors.
- Make funding equitable for charter schools and traditional public schools.
- Fund virtual charter schools less per student since schools do not require brick and mortar facilities.
- Enforce an effective performance-based accountability system with benchmarks for increased proficiency, academic growth, and college/career readiness standards to ensure that charter schools demonstrate positive student outcomes.
- Put charter schools that do not meet the established benchmarks on time-limited improvement plans and do not allow them to increase enrollment or continue unless they have met the benchmarks.
- Disseminate effective charter and traditional public school innovations to improve the educational system at large.
Funding for Public Education:
(Adopted 1973; revised 1983, 1993, 2002, 2007, 2015)
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico supports sufficient funding for a high-quality equitable educational system for all students that is consistently and fairly applied across the state.
- Fund programs that foster children’s development from birth to age 5 for success in kindergarten and beyond.
- Use the New Mexico State Equalization Guarantee funding formula to achieve equity and provide fair funding for every student based on need, regardless of location, making periodic modifications to assure that the formula is faithful to its original intent.
- Fund internet services and technology infrastructure, educator training, extended learning time, and other programs to support students in high-quality online, hybrid, and remote instruction.
- Fund structured information exchange among educators to improve learning outcomes.
- Fund career-technical programs and magnet schools in accordance with their increased costs.
- Fund programs that support successful transitions from high school to postsecondary education, careers, and work, including dual credit.
- Fund school social workers, health care providers, and career counselors as professional educators.
- Allow local school districts to control the funds distributed to them.
- Fund all state and federal mandates so as not to place an undue burden on public schools.
- Fund public post-secondary education sufficiently reflecting the types and levels of educational institutions, program offerings, differences in student needs and preparation, educator qualifications, and other expenses.
- Fund scholarships, low-interest loans, and loans-for-service to incentivize students’ completion of post-secondary degrees and certificates.