Monday, October 10, 2011

2011 Special Session on Redistricting

Dear Friends,

I hope you are well. I am writing to give you a brief update on the recent special session of the New Mexico Legislature and what to expect in the next few months regarding job creation and redistricting.

On the important issue of jobs, the legislature was able to pass a capital outlay bill that is focused on starting new infrastructure projects immediately and state-wide. I pushed hard to get the bill passed and fought efforts by the minority party to adjourn before we could vote on the bill. Fortunately, we were able to defeat the effort to adjourn and kill the capital outlay bill, which eventually passed. I wish the bill has contained funding for more projects, but we will have a chance in the upcoming thirty-day session in January to invest in more infrastructure projects.

The legislature also passed an important bill to give New Mexico-owned businesses a real advantage over out-of-state companies when bidding on state contracts as well as a bill to preserve Medicaid funding for children and food assistance funding for our senior citizens.

I was glad that on the issue of capital outlay, in-state preference and other bills, I and the governor agreed about the importance of the proposals. It was good to work in a bi-partisan way to support the creation of jobs for New Mexico’s working families.

Also during the session, the legislature passed plans to redraw the district boundaries of the state house, the state senate, the public regulation commission, and the public education commission to account for shifts in the state’s population. Unfortunately, the governor vetoed the plans, which is regrettable because her veto has thrown redistricting to the courts at a very high cost to taxpayers.

The plans we passed are constitutionally sound, fair and protect the voting rights of Native Americans and minorities. The plans ensure that the principles of “one person, one vote” and equal representation will remain alive and well in New Mexico. Also, despite political statements to the contrary, the state house plan actually lowers the number of “safe” democratic seats by one, makes far more swing seats that could be won be either party, and brings new competition to several areas of the state.

The legislature did not pass a plan to redraw the boundaries of our US Congressional districts. There is a lot of speculation regarding why the plan failed to pass, but the fact is that the house was unable to vote on a congressional redistricting bill because the minority party was able to force the house into adjournment before action could be taken. As a result, we’ll never know what might have happened.

Finally, you may have read in the paper or seen on television that I am a plaintiff in a court case regarding redistricting. I chose to participate in this legal case because it will be the only way to achieve a redistricting plan once the governor vetoes the redistricting bills. I believe very strongly in the constitution and its promise of equal protection under the law. In order to preserve this important principle in New Mexico’s elections, I chose to go forward to fight for these important American values in court.

Thank you for your time in reading this update. If I may be of service, please visit my webpage to send me a message; I am always g;ad to hear from you.