Special thanks to Kit Carson Electric Co-op for our meeting space!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions and comments below are those of the speaker and not official positions of Taos United, a non-partisan, nonprofit community information and education group.
SENATOR CARLOS CISNEROS, SD6
Senator Carlos Cisneros thanked everyone for “getting us a good Governor and participating in the last election.” The legislative session begins on January 15. Don’t hesitate to call or email your concerns. He and Representative Gonzales are ready to do your work.
He is vice chair of the Senate Finance and Legislative Finance Committees. There is a budget surplus going into this session, which is very unusual. Education is a priority. New Mexico has not adequately funded education, and now there is the opportunity to do so. Much will be accomplished through one time funding of 600 million dollars. This will be a good opportunity for local & statewide projects. 30% of our budget is oil money. In many ways, our State is being led by the oil industry. We must divest & build our economy. We need to get out of the mentality that we will bring big business to our State. We must fix what is in our State though good governance and responsible legislation. We have not had this opportunity in a long time.
Q. Is there a central organization designed to make that process of capital outlay even across the state?
A. We anticipate spending 600 million dollars, half of which is marked for the bond issues voted in last election. 300 million will be divided equally between the House and Senate. They are not changing the mechanism that is in place.
Q. Do you support taking additional funds from the general fund for childhood education?
A. No objection to funding public education where there are licensed teachers. Depends on the nomenclature of the bills. Taking from permanent fund erodes long term investments. There must have a good rationale for that action.
Q. Will there be/do you support investment in infrastructure for renewable energy?
A. He does not know of coordinated activity. Tax credit for solar may be offered.
Q. Do you support a national popular vote?
Q. Support funding for UNM Taos?
A. 2 million dollars in funding has been requested, and he agrees with this. He will also support acequia development from his allotment.
REPRESENTATIVE BOBBY GONZALES, HD 42
Representative Gonzales thanked participants for their hard work in the mid term election.
– He proposes an initiative at UNM Taos to provide housing for staff & students.
– He is in favor of historical zoning for the area of Ranchos thru El Prado. This has been vetoed 2 yrs in a row, and he believes it is very much needed.
– He supports a capital outlay to El Prado Water and Sanitation for infrastructure development.
– He supports NM remaining on Standard Time rather than daylight savings. This has 91% support statewide.
– NM must comply with educational court ruling. There are many matters to be dealt with, more than just classroom issues and school improvements.
– He believes we have good individuals in our State, and we must provide them with training. One day at a time.
Q. Do you recommend infrastructure projects? What major projects can be accomplished in this legislative session?
A. The Department of Transportation has had no budget increase in 26 years. There will probably be a gas tax to support much needed improvements and projects in this department.
NM HEALTH SECURITY ACT
Mary Feldblum, Executive Director of Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign. The Health Security Act will enable our State to set up its’ own health plan that includes freedom of choice of provider (no more networks). The Plan guarantees that all New Mexicans will have access to comprehensive, quality health care coverage, regardless of income, health, or employment status. Dental & vision will be extra. Military and federal retirees who have their own health system will be excluded. Tribes as sovereign nations and ERISA plans (large companies) may join.
Since March, 500 individuals have joined the Campaign. 15 organizations have joined the coalition (now well over 160). There are 35 counties and municipalities that over the years have passed resolutions in support of Health Security – from Santa Fe to Roswell (all bipartisan). The most recent one to pass a resolution is the Los Alamos County Council (again bipartisan). The All Pueblo Council of Governors has requested the Campaign to submit a resolution of support, which will be considered next week.
Rep. Bobby Gonzalez and Sen. Carlos Cisneros are major sponsors of the bill that will be introduced this legislative session. Since the new Governor supports Health Security, there is a good chance that New Mexico could be the first State to implement such a plan (which will take three years to get up and running).
For more information please see www.nmhealthsecurity.org
Q. Will pre existing conditions be covered?
A. They do not matter. Automatic coverage available to New Mexicans.
Q. Federal retirees do not receive visual/dental coverage. Would there be a possibility for this coverage?
A. No answer at present.. All must be costed out in feasibility study.
LET’S REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE
Bud Branch, group leader, Taos Chapter of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America, part of a grassroots movement dedicated to protecting people from gun violence. There are 93 deaths every day from gun violence. #1 goal: legislate expanded criminal background checks. Legislation would require all sales transact through a federally licensed dealer. They support the 2nd Amendment. They are the largest counterweight to the gun lobby in the US.
Join the movement! Text 64433 ‘join’ or ‘resist’
Donate – www.momsdemandaction.org
WOMEN’S RIGHTS LEGISLATION
Christy Holden of Taos Progressives. NM Respect Women and NM ACLU are leading an effort to strike a 1969 statute from State law which makes it a fourth degree felony to perform an abortion procedure (except in cases of rape, incest, birth defects or to protect the life of the mother). There will be a Taos Town Hall on Wednesday Dec.12 at 5:30pm. RSVP: www.facebook.com/progressivetaos Location to be announced.
1,743 women won legislative seats in this election! What a difference we made! More than 2,000 women will be in office this coming year – almost entirely from one political party!!
Q. Do Rep. Gonzales and Senator Cisneros support a woman’s right to choose?
A. Yes – both
Alexandra Rose announced there is a WINTER MARKET at Guadalupe Gym from 10 until 1 on Saturday Dec. 15 & 22 and Jan 19. Come, show & sell crafts & art. $25 fee per booth.
Mya Coursey announced an interfaith community sharing opportunity: the 17th annual PEACE CHANUKAH will be held on Dec. 5th at 5:30pm, St. James Episcopal Church. Please bring food to contribute to food pantry.
MESSAGE OF HOPE
Common Grounds teens and Youth Minister Jill Cline announced they are working with River Joy Johnson on her idea for the Message of H.O.P.E. – Hang On Pain Ends – an outreach effort to support teens on the edge of suicide. The group plans an event this Saturday at 4pm at Bonfires on Bent Street and again Sunday at the Bridge at 12:45pm. Common Grounds seeks support: www.commongrounds.org
WATER QUALITY OF OUR RIVERS
Eric Patterson is Coordinator of Water Sentinels — Rios de Taos for Sierra Club. They measure water quality in area rivers. He feels there is a malaise about seeing our country moving in the wrong direction. Voting is not enough; follow up is important on crucial issues. Come to Santa Fe for Land, Water & Wildlife Day on Feb. 13th at the Roundhouse. 8am – 3pm. You’ll get training, visit information tables, hear from speakers and go in teams to visit legislators.
Shannon Romeling of Amigos Bravos will replace Eric next month. They have been working to protect our water for 30 years. They take samples 3 times annually from the Rio Fernando, Red River, Rio Grande and Rio Hondo.
Volunteers needed: please contact www.amigosbravos.org
Q. What does your data show?
A. Red River contains aluminum from Chevron/ Molycorp mine.
Rio Fernando contains e coli.
Rio Hondo and Rio Pueblo have clean readings with rare e coli reports.
TAOS BEHAVIORAL HEALTH
Mary Gray announced NonViolenceWorks has changed its name to TAOS BEHAVIORAL HEALTH. They served 1800 people last year. They have incorporated the family & youth clients from Tri-County and moved them along with three clinicians to their facility. They seek volunteers and support for their new Residential Treatment Center for adolescent males. firstname.lastname@example.org
ADELANTE PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS
Jay Levine, Adelante Progressive Caucus of the Democratic Party of New Mexico (www.adelantecaucus.org), urged participation in the Legislative session which starts January 15th. It will be the busiest ever with 6 – 10,000 bills! Bills are filed Dec. 17 – Jan. 14. Our legislative members and committee meetings are accessible, and it is easy for citizens to be involved. Come down to the Roundhouse – it is a cool place with great art work on all four floors!
RETAKE OUR DEMOCRACY has been monitoring bills and providing synopses for two years. www.retakeourdemocracy.org and click Resources
ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AT LANL
Dr. Stan Riveles, Chairman of NNMCAB (Northern New Mexico Civilian Advisory Board/Dept. of Energy) addressed the disposal of radiological and toxic waste at LANL.
There is a multibillion dollar liability at LANL. NNMCAB is a volunteer organization and serves as a watchdog to provide feedback on our reactions to their progress. A consent order is the main instrument the State of NM uses to enforce clean up.
There is good news: DOE budget was approved last year. There are new policies encouraging clean up across the country. There is a new Environmental Secretary and a new ‘broom’ in the Round House. NNMCAB plans to lobby to protect the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) which DOE threatens to undermine.
Stan came to the first meeting of Taos United almost two years ago. He is proud of what has been accomplished!
The NNMCAB seeks new Board members. It is open to everyone, and they welcome greater participation from the community. Please see Stan following the meeting.
COMMUNICATIONS – LEGISLATIVE SESSION
Diane Shifrin, TU/TU Communications, announced that neither Retake Democracy or the Adelante Progressive caucus quite have the tools up for pushing/following legislation. Please add your email to the sign up sheet. We will connect you with information to participate in the legislative session.
Melissa Moe announced an Advocacy Training with Sandra Duckert of RESULTS on Saturday January 5th at the Adelante Room, Taos Civic Center, 120 Civic Plaza Drive. This event is FREE and will be conducted in 2 parts:
10 am – noon Powerful Speaking & Writing to your legislators
1:00 – 3:00 Arranging & Conducting lobby meetings
TAOS ELDERS AND NEIGHBORS TOGETHER
Marianne Furedi announced TENT seeks members, volunteers and donors. TENT supports elders living at home by providing handiman services, computer assistance, driving and many other things. www.taoselders.org
Taos Town Councillor Darien Fernandez gave attendees a resounding thank you for knocking on 7,000 doors and making 16,000 phone calls. It is time to pass some progressive legislation!! There was a 9,000 vote margin for Governor elect Michelle Lujan Grisham in Taos County. In San Juan County, Steve Pierce won by 10K votes. We almost cancelled him out! Taos County Democratic HQ will open year round. 2020 work begins NOW !
Luncheon with Congressman Ben Ray Lujan
Sunday Dec. 9th, 1:00 at Dem HQ.
NM MEDIA LITERACY NOW
Media Educator Pamela Pereyra and student Nalia Kast volunteer for NM Media Literacy Now which is part of a national network focussed on grassroots state-by-state media literacy legislation. They advocate for comprehensive media literacy education to enable students to think critically, understand and better navigate the world. Benefits address health & well-being; privacy, safety and security; and create ethical digital citizens. Essential to this is thinking critically about media’s influence on thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Media literate citizens are more democratic.
Representative Antonio Maestas and Representative Bobby Gonzales are bill sponsors to get media literacy taught K-12.
www.medialiteracynm.org or text your email to 575.770.5858 to get involved.
NM INTERFAITH POWER AND LIGHT
Todd Wynward announced several events:
Witness for the People on Jan 16th at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe.
Taos We are Still In on Saturday Dec 8th, 4:30 – 6pm, First Presbyterian Church in downtown Taos. We need to keep track of the KCEC vision for 100% renewable daytime energy by 2020.
STOP THE MADNESS AT KIT CARSON PARK
Sang Roberson addressed the issue of music venues at Kit Carson Park. The park was never intended to be a money making music venue. It disturbs the peace of the neighborhood, making it impossible for residents to sit out of doors on summer evenings. In 2006 the City of Taos spent $964,000 to purchase land on Salazar Road for the specific purpose of an outdoor music venue. There has been no follow through on this project. At present there is a plan to make the temporary stage at Kit Carson Park permanent. Sang asked attendees to sign her petition to stop the madness at Kit Carson Park. email Sang: email@example.com
MONEY OUT OF POLITICS
Ham Brown would like to re establish a committee to get money out of politics in NM. There is opportunity to take action with our current legislature. Those interested please see Ham following the meeting or call 770-4291 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
PRAYER GATHERING FOR WATER PROTECTION
Clifton Bain spoke of concerns regarding the ABEYTA WATER ADJUDICATION. The plan involves a complex system to extract water from deep wells. This fossil water of unknown quality will be pumped into our mutual domestic water systems and acequias. There is short term funding for managing this proposed complex system, but no plan for long term funding to support infrastructure . We must demand full disclosure to the public and pressure the City and County of Taos to open the process. Who owns the water in our County? We stand to lose democratic control of the water. Please come to a PRAYER GATHERING FOR WATER PROTECTION at Kit Carson Park at 11 am Sunday. Join the worldwide movement to protect water. email@example.com or 770-2167
LARGE SCALE SOLAR FOR TAOS
Justin Friedman has observed the impact of climate change while living in Lama and believes we must act now. He is working on a proposal with Renewable Taos for a large scale solar collection site. He believes renewable energy installations will act as economic stimuli to our region. He is looking to partner w/ UNM Taos. firstname.lastname@example.org or 575-586-0246
2019 Community Forums: 3rd Tuesday of the month @ KCEC