By Brittany Fallon, Legislative coordinator
Even though New Mexico’s 30-day legislative session is months away, the wheels are turning for new laws and bills now.
The interim legislative session runs from June to November, and it consists of joint House-Senate committees that travel the state to hear about issues that will likely show up as legislation in 2020.
Often, the interim is used as an opportunity to introduce new legislation concepts and work out the kinks. It is also an opportunity for legislators to learn about issues impacting the state, like methane mitigation or education, and tour facilities of interest, like new solar installations. The first June meeting of every committee is a planning meeting where they decide locations and topics the committee will discuss. Then, the committee chair and co-chairs develop a “workplan” of topics they will ideally discuss throughout the interim.
The agenda for each meeting is released a few weeks before the meeting date. You can see work plans for each committee by at nmlegis.gov/Committee/Interim.
Here is an abbreviated list of committees that typically hear environmental issues and each committees’ general focus:
Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy Committee. This committee sometimes discusses incentives and barriers to bringing additional industries to rural New Mexico, and tax structures on oil and gas and other industries.
Economic and Rural Development Committee. This committee discusses ways to bring new economic development to rural New Mexico, and sometimes discusses incentives for extractive industries.
Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Committee. This committee discusses everything from uranium pollution to WIPP.
Water and Natural Resources Committee. This committee covers a wide variety of environmental issues, from wildlife to energy to water. Meeting dates: July 30-31 in Truth or Consequences; Sept. 5-6 in Ruidoso; Oct.17-18 in Silver City; Nov. 7-8 in Santa Fe. The Water and Natural Resources Committee is a particularly important committee for the Sierra Club because it focuses almost entirely on environmental resources. Their workplan for the 2019 interim session includes a long list of issues.
Legislative Finance Committee. This committee hears every budget-related topic and meets more frequently than the other committees. On July 10th in Cloudcroft, this committee will hear oil and gas production projections for the Permian Basin.