2020 has been a rollercoaster ride of unprecedented upheaval and tribulation for many of us, with plenty of surprises and significant changes to everyone’s lives. The events of this year will reverberate for many more to come, and shape an uncertain path forward. But as 2020 comes to a close, we want to take a look back at a year that challenged us with hardships and change, loss and growth. Together we can begin 2021 with the hope and intrepidity to come back stronger than before and be the change we want to see.
The Legislative Session
The (first) 2020 legislative session resulted in several wins for NMBC and working New Mexicans. While NMBC is busy working year round and statewide, the legislative session is where we can make the most progress. During the 2020 session NMBC worked on the following bills and initiatives:
- NMBC Killed the Gas Tax Bill: This bill was a regressive tax that will eventually amount to an additional 35 cents/gallon tax on vehicle fuel. For a small 15 gallon tank, you’d pay an extra $5.25 to fill up and a larger truck/SUV could cost you over $12 more. The new tax dollars will be split in thirds as follows: 1) Roads; 2) A new ‘Clean Infrastructure Fund’ that will soak up most of the money to cover the expansion of government to manage it; and 3) A special ‘Low Income Rebate Fund’. Low income folks. That’s great for those not buying fuel, but not so great for the other low-income folks who may not get as much back, but are also subsidizing the rebates.
- NMBC Scored Legislative Win on HR-1: Publication of Votes to Table Bills: House rule change 11-21-1 would require all Committee votes to “table” legislation be provided to the public. Tabling a vote effectively kills its progress through the legislature.
- NMBC Stopped HJR 1: Permanent Funds for Early Childhood: Antonio Maestas (D), Javier Martinez (D). The annual attempt by these two Representatives to raid the Land Grant Permanent Fund passed the Senate Rules Committee but stalled out Senate Finance committee. Due to the past legislative wisdom, the raid has been stopped for nine years. Together with the Severance Tax Permanent fund, education and other beneficiaries will receive $1.1 Billion this year, which is exactly why this fund should be left alone with the 5% annual distribution.
- NMBC Fought for “Taxpayer Bill of Rights”: State Representative Rod Montoya introduced a state “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” this year. The bill would have created an amendment to the state constitution requiring a three-fifths majority in both the state House and Senate to raise taxes. It’s long past time for NM taxpayers to have a say in how their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent. Unfortunately this bill was killed on Wednesday after the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee tabled it.
- NMBC Killed SB 110, Public Sector Collective Bargaining Changes: sponsored by Sen. Mimi Stewart (D). This bill was an attempted union power grab that, among other things, would have required public employers to release to the union employees’ home addresses, personal emails, and home/cell numbers and given unions the right to use government facilities whenever they choose.
- NMBC helped kill the Recreational Marijuana Bill: SB 115, the highly controversial Recreational Cannabis bill, was tabled by the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 6-3 vote. NMBC’s strong voice and the bold actions of grassroots New Mexicans helped defeat this bill and ensure that recreational Cannabis stays out of our communities and workplaces.
- NMBC Fought for Social Security Tax Exemption: HB 29/ SB 81, Social Security Income Tax Exemption would have provided tax relief to those who depend on the earned benefits of Social Security. This bill should have been a no brainer for legislators to pass, but both measures stalled in committees and never made it to a floor vote.
U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement Trade Deal
USMCA signed into law on January 29th: After over a year of political wrangling and deal making, the USMCA was signed by President Trump. NMBC was New Mexico’s most vocal and leading proponent for the improved NAFTA replacement – the USMCA trade agreement. NMBC has been engaged with the formulation and passing of the USMCA at all stages, from its initial planning phase all the way to being invited to the white house to see it signed by the president. NMBC is very proud to have been a leading advocate for this landmark trade deal.
Learning to live in a Covid-19 world
The pandemic completely turned the world on it’s head this year and forced many business to close, some for good. Since the early days of the pandemic NMBC has continued to boldly take the lead on fighting for businesses and making the most of any and every opportunity to support businesses in NM.
NMBC took the lead in creating a plan for reopening New Mexico in the earliest days of the pandemic:
- The plan for reopening that was sent to the Governor
- The petition and survey results
- The letter to the Governor from mayors across New Mexico
NMBC joined the Covid-19 Emergency Supply Collaborative to help marshal resources for first responders and medical personnel
In support of all businesses in New Mexico, NMBC filed an Amicus Curiae (friend of the court brief) supporting that lawsuit and challenging the fines which have been as high as $60,000 to one business.
Fought and won UI relief for NM businesses in Special Legislative Session:
- Press release calling on Governor and Response. Joined forces with Sen. Cliff Pirtle, Sen. Clemente Sanchez and Rep Rod Montoya in reaching out to the Governor
- NMBC drafted legislation to address this (UI) issue during the special session and that language was included in SB 3. Success in addressing potentially massive UI tax increases was the best thing to happen for businesses this year.
NMBC has offered up to date Covid-19 resources for businesses
New Mexican business across the board continue to struggle with the draconian shutdowns and business restrictions imposed by the state. NMBC’s efforts on behalf of all working New Mexicans will continue to progress and respond to the challenges around this pandemic until we can return to normalcy. We are far from business as usual, but NMBC is committed to seeing this through to the end.
Voter education and Election season
The 2020 election season was the most competitive and contentious in our state’s history. As most New Mexicans were stuck indoors, we saw a renewed focus on our leaders and their performance that led to record turn out and increased mail in voting. The 2020 election saw NMBC’s largest and most comprehensive voter education effort to date that enabled NM voters to cut right to the heart of what matters at the ballot box.
Dare To Change New Mexico Campaign: NMBC’s latest project, Dare New Mexico, was created in conjunction with local business and civic leaders to share the stories and struggles of New Mexicans before and during the Covid-19 pandemic, and push for a change in the way NM has operated for nearly 100 years.
In spite of the pandemic, NMBC pressed on and continued to provide our signature Job Interviews for Sandoval County Commission Candidates in Districts 2 and 4, and Bernalillo County Commission District 4.
Comprehensive Statewide Voter Scorecard: NMBC kept track of incumbents voting record on legislation and we reached out to every candidate for House and Senate with our Legislative Priorities Survey to find out where they stand on important issues. We used a 29 question survey that seeks to determine how these candidates would deal with business related issues should they win in their respective districts and move on to represent New Mexicans in Santa Fe. NMBC officials evaluated all of the candidate’s answers, and using a fair and balanced scale, issued a letter grade to each candidate based on how favorable their positions are to growing a business friendly community and discouraging government interference.
NMBC Fought back against and continue to monitor Albuquerque city mandates on PTO and premium pay:
Business everywhere are hanging on by a thread and Albuquerque is no exception. However amidst the pandemic in Albuquerque, city legislators are vying to kick job creators while they’re down and implement mandatory new benefits that ranged from “premium pay” to sick leave. This well intentioned but short sighted ffort could be the final nail in the coffin for many businesses and NMBC stopped at nothing to halt this job killing mandate in its tracks.
- Successfully Fought Mandates on Paid Sick Leave: KOB4 Interview with Carla
- Public emergency sick leave – 80 hours (available immediately) of sick paid time off for full time employees. For part-time workers, hours of paid sick leave equal to the number of hours that worker performs on a two week average.
- Regular earned paid sick leave – One hour of mandatory paid sick leave for each 30 hours worked up to 56 hours a year, and able to be carried over year after year. (A similar version of this bill was clearly voted down before by Albuquerque residents)
- Public Health Emergency “Premium Pay” that (in some cases) could mandate pay of over $22/hour for employees
Focusing on energy locally and nationally
- DOE Manufacturing Day Webinar: In celebration of Manufacturing Day, and as the state affiliate for the National Association of Manufacturers, NMBC has a very special guest speaker from the Department of Energy to keynote our celebration. Shawn Bennett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) discussed with us via Zoom the critical importance of petroleum products in American manufacturing, how NM’s vast energy resources fit into the work of the DOE, and America’s bright future as the world’s energy leader.
- DOE Roundtable Event with Elected Officials and Industry Leaders: NMBC arranged for The Department of Energy’s Deputy Secretary, Mark W. Menezes, to join us here in Albuquerque on Monday, October 5th for a round table discussion on our vast energy resources and the future for our state’s oil, gas and manufacturing industries. The invite-only event featured Elected officials from across New Mexico along with energy and manufacturing industry leaders.
Honoring our Veterans and local Heroes
As an organization led by and staffed with veterans, NMBC has been committed to recognizing the service of veterans and first responders for over a decade. In 2020, even covid-19 couldn’t stop us from carrying on our tradition of awarding a veteran of the year and honoring the brave men and women who keep us safe. Veterans from across the state are nominated by their peers and fellow citizens to receive NMBC’s Veteran of the Year Award for their enduring service to others and selflessness.
With the support of Mayor Gregg Hull, City of Rio Rancho and great community partners like Public Service Company of New Mexico, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Presbyterian Healthcare Services, PhRMA, Andy’s Painting, Quality Generational Investments, and Advertising Ideas (Farmington, NM), New Mexico Business Coalition was proud to Honor United States Air Force Veteran Roger Newall as the 2020 Veteran of the Year.
2020 was filled with ups and downs, wins and losses, and everything in between. What has remained constant is our dedication to New Mexico and the community of businesses, owners, employees, coalition members, supporters and allies who make our state wonderful. We have a long road ahead of us to rebuild from the decimation of Covid-19, but together we have the power to be the change we want to see.