Sixteen years ago I ran for the New Mexico Senate using a theme, “A Passion for the Possible.” I have worked hard to keep that passion alive and push the envelope when it comes to affordable health care, good government, consumer and environmental protection. I’ve had my share of victories and defeats. I count my successes by the scores—a Do-Not-Call bill, a Fund for People with Brain Injuries, a Nurse Advice Line, lower prescription drug prices, controls on health insurance companies, a statewide water plan, and several laws to control campaign spending and provide open government.
Now it is time for me to move on into new fields, and clear the way for someone new to carry the torch for Senate District 13 in Santa Fe. I have been honored and humbled to serve the people of the North Valley—and beyond. Some of my most satisfying moments have come in partnership with my constituents, working on common problems and giving you an opportunity to participate in important decisions that should be decided by citizens, not just office holders. In a democracy, after all, citizens are the highest office holders. And so, I am not stepping down as much as branching out into the real world outside of the Roundhouse.
But don’t expect me to keep quiet or vanish from the scene. Much has yet to be done.
I believe that every person has a project whether they are conscious of it or not. It’s the thing that drives you, that defines you and gives your life meaning. My project has been to give ordinary people a voice in what goes on in this country, to leave things a little better than I found them and to give back, to make available to others some of the economic opportunities, some of the educational benefits that this country has offered to me.
I have focused on what I considered to be the greatest injustice: Health Care. Martin Luther King said it best: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”
I will continue this focus in writing and journalism projects, a renewal of my communications company, and support for the causes I hold dear. I will still be walking the streets and talking the talk for candidates I believe in, and who knows, someday I may become one again. But now I must move on. I will be on the job throughout the remainder of my term, which ends in Jan. 2013. You will hear from me regularly with updates about state and local issues, campaigns and opportunities for action. I will step up myblog and continue my e-mail newsletter. And stay tuned. I am working ona book, hopefully out next year, on how the New Mexico legislature reallyworks.
After the Dust Has Settled Wrap-Up
It wasn’t just me who thought things were a bit slow. Only 77 bills passed the legislature this time—the fewest for a short session since 1976.
Among the good ones were several Memorials that don’t require the Gov.’s signature. One to recommend that the US Constitution be amended to overturn Citizens’ United, another for a study of a basic health care plan for low-income folks.
Three constitutional amendments will be on the ballot to clean up the PRC by removing the insurance division and the corporations’ registry, and requiring commissioners to meet basic educational standards.
Two good bills are now on the Governor’s desk—call 505-476-2200 to urge her to sign them.
1) SB 9 closes tax loopholes enjoyed by out-of-state “big-box” stores and levels the playing field for small businesses. It also actually lowers the corporate income tax rate slightly.
2) HB 74 stops the Conservancy District from requiring absentee ballots to be notarized to be valid in their elections. The practice has discouraged voters and depressed turnout in elections that fly below the radar screen.
Good bills that died: Sen. Jennings’ compromise on Drivers’ Licenses; Sen. Wirth’s measure to require transparency for “Super Pac” contributions; my bill to ban fireworks in time of extreme fire danger; Sen. Bernadette Sanchez’ bill to stem the rising tide of heroin and prescription drug overdoses; a bill banning legislators from immediately becoming lobbyists; Sen. Michael Sanchez’ bill to make home foreclosures fairer, and Rep. Brian Egoff’s tax credit for energy efficient home purchases and green renovations of foreclosed properties.
Thank you once again for the opportunity to serve you. It has been a high point of my life.
With a heavy heart—but confidence in our community,