Legislative Action Team
New Vistas Legislative Action Team is comprised of various community members, staff, and Board members participating in several different ways.
First we have a Steering Committee with consumers, staff and Board members who meet regularly to set priorities, strategies, and plan activities (attending legislative interim and regular committee meetings, ask for phone calls or e-mails to legislators or executive staff members, attend state sponsored program meetings or hearings etc.)
Next we have consumers, community members, Board and staff members who make phone calls, send e-mails, make personal appearances or make formal presentations on behalf of specific legislative issues. If you would like to be on our phone tree or action alert email list, or would like to receive our periodic email newsletter, please contact one of our advocates at 505-471-1001.
This grassroots approach to advocacy is now in its fourth year of formal organizing activity. We believe that each person’s voice counts towards developing a vital, vibrant and effective democracy. In particular, we are addressing the needs and concerns of individuals with disabilities, children with special needs and their families. We welcome your participation!
SOME TIPS FOR BEING AN EFFECTIVE ADVOCATE
Tips for You to Influence Public Policy in New Mexico
Here are some things YOU can do to help influence the making of public policy in New Mexico! Our legislative body is made up of real people elected into office by you and me. They need, and want, to hear from YOU about what’s important to their constituents and will rely on you for information. The input that you and others provide forms the structure for all of our laws and services. Our state government is a people’s government and the Roundhouse is YOUR house!
The Capitol Building (the Roundhouse) is at 490 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501 (at Paseo de Peralta) with a free parking garage at 420 Galisteo Street. The legislative session runs for 30 days on even years and 60 days on odd years and begins the 3rd Tuesday of January.
The New Mexico State Legislature website is at www.nmlegis.gov. Find your senator and representative (you have one of each) by zip code + 4 or district number. You will find their photo, email link, phone number, mailing address, committee assignments and some background information.
Here you can read and track legislation, committee meeting schedules, House and Senate agendas and more. The Legislative Almanac, a free publication, is published annually with photos and contact information for legislators along with other helpful data (available at the Roundhouse or call 505-982-4671). If you can’t come to Santa Fe during the session you can still do a great deal remotely by phone, email, mail and by organizing with others to speak on your behalf. You can watch live webcasts of the House, Senate and some committee meetings at www.nmlegis.gov.
Chief Clerk of the House: 505-986-4751 (Room 100)
Chief Clerk of the Senate: 505-986-4716 (Room 115)
Governor’s Office: 505-476-2200 (Room 400) or www.governor.state.nm.us
Capitol Switchboard: 505-986-4300 if you don’t know who to call or have questions Legislative Council Service (LCS): 505-986-4600/TDD: 505-986-4653 (Room 411). Contact the Legislative Council Service for interpreter services or alternative formats.
Interim Committees (25), made up of both senators and representatives, meet in between the sessions while Standing Committees (17 House and 9 Senate) meet during the session. These are called hearings and both Standing and Interim Committee agendas are on the legislative website. During the session printed daily agendas for Standing Committees and the full House and Senate are also at the east entrance to the Roundhouse. Committee meetings are formal but open to the public and have set times for citizens to make public comment.
One or more legislators sponsor each piece of legislation. There are 42 senators in the Senate and 70 representatives in the House. Bills (House Bill [HB] or Senate Bill [SB]) can become law if they move forward.
Before any legislation becomes law it must go through many steps and you can advocate with your voice at many stages. A basic outline of these steps includes:
- Bills are drafted (with input from interested parties – YOU!), sponsored by a legislator,introduced and assigned to one or more Standing Committees
- Assigned committee/s hear each bill and either pass, don’t pass or do not recommend the bill
- If passed by all committees, the bill moves on to the Senate or House, respectively
- If the bill passes the House or Senate in that step, it moves back to the next series of committeehearings for another round where it is considered again for a pass, no pass or recommendation
- If the bill passes its second round through the committee/s it moves on to the House or Senate,respectively
- If the bill passes both the Senate AND the House it will go to the governor to be signed or not(no signature equals a veto)
- If the bill is signed by the governor it becomes law
Organize and write out your personal story or your group’s point of view into a concise 1 to 3 minute script and be ready to present it at any time . . . in a letter, on the phone, in a private appointment, at a committee meeting during public comment periods, if called on to testify or even if you see someone in the hallway who should know more about the cause! Carry your story with you. Save back-up facts and any related documents. Offer to provide them if needed. You might be the first one to put a face on an issue, and they WANT to know and hear it from you and your peers!
Call, write or visit your legislators before, after and during the session. Before and after the session they reside in their home districts, but they stay in Santa Fe during the session and have an office at the Roundhouse, which you can visit. If you stop by anyone’s office, SIGN IN and note why you came; your visit counts as much as a call or letter, whether you see the senator or representative face to face or not. Leave a copy of your statement or story with your contact information on it.
After a bill is passed, CALL or CONTACT THE GOVERNOR to ask that it gets signed into law; he/she has the final say. Numbers make a difference!
Ask everyone you know who might be affected by upcoming decisions to take action. Help them learn how to also contact key players and organize yourselves as a unified voice.
ALWAYS send thank you notes to anyone who helps along the way, including staff members. It doesn’t need to be fancy and will go a million miles! ALWAYS be professional, courteous . . . you are your own best lobbyist!!