Senator Peter Wirth @senatorwirth

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News from the Session: 2011 Legislative Update

Greetings,

The legislative session started last week with a flurry of proposed legislation -- 218 bills in the state Senate, 127 bills in the state House. The complete list is contained in the "bill locater" which you can find on the New Mexico Legislature web site at www.nmlegis.gov.

Please click here for a list of the bills I introduced.

Effective Legislative Advocacy

Many of you have asked what individuals can do to support or oppose specific bills and confirmations.

My number one suggestion is to be strategic. For a bill introduced in the Senate to pass it has to go through Senate committees, the Senate floor, and then repeat the process in the House. If the bill makes it through those hurdles, it goes to the Governor for her signature or veto.

Advocacy efforts need to follow the progress of the bill. All you need is a majority of the members of the committee to vote for the bill to move to the next committee. Spend your time focused on those committee members whose vote you need.

Second, make an effort to personally visit legislators and explain your reason for wanting the bill to pass or fail. One of the best opportunities to find legislators is on the Senate or House floor before the start of the floor session each day. New Mexico is one of the few states where anyone can come onto the floor and visit with legislators. The paid lobbyists do it and so should you.

Third, send e-mails. While groups that dump volumes of form e-mails saying the same thing are not particularly effective, individual personalized e-mails make a real difference.

Finally, when the bill is scheduled for hearing, come to the committee hearing and stand up during the public comment period to state your position. After you say your name, tell the committee where you are from and which legislative district you live in. I can assure you that legislators take extra notice when it is their constituent who is speaking. If you are part of a group supporting a specific bill, do not have everyone from the same area stand up and testify. As a Santa Fe legislator, I can tell you that on more than one occasion my colleagues have noted that all the supporters are from Santa Fe.

Take advantage of the accessibility of the New Mexico Legislature and you can play a real role in whether a bill passes or fails.

The Confirmation Process


Governor Martinez' appointments to cabinet positions, boards and commissions require the advice and consent of the Senate. Unlike a bill, confirmations only go to one committee, the Senate Rules Committee, which has six Democrats and three Republicans.

Confirmations are presented to the Rules Committee by a sponsoring senator who introduces the nominee. The person seeking confirmation then makes a statement to the committee describing his or her qualifications for appointment and vision for the agency or commission. The committee chair goes to the audience for public testimony in support and opposition. This is followed by questions from the committee and a vote.

A confirmation receiving a positive vote in the Rules Committee is reported out to the floor of the Senate shortly after the committee hearing. The sponsor presents the nominee's qualifications and then answers questions from other members. There is no opportunity for public input. Following debate, the confirmation is voted up or down. An appointee whose confirmation is rejected on the floor cannot serve.

The process for advocacy in support or opposition of an appointee is similar to that described above for a bill with one big difference. With a confirmation hearing you need to focus on the Rules Committee but cannot wait to begin meeting and e-mailing the other Senators who will vote on the floor.

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