As Benjamin Franklin once said, “You may delay, but time will not.” These words ring true as I reflect on the 30-day legislative session and what we were able to accomplish as individuals and a body. While a 30-day session has its challenges, time mainly being the biggest hindrance, I am proud to report I was able to secure passage of three pieces of legislation and aide in the passage of key education reform legislation to shore up our lottery scholarship solvency crisis and increase funding to our public education system.
This summer, a task force I served on, found a growing trend of state bids being oriented towards out of state companies. After working with both private industry and labor to fix that problem, I sponsored House Joint Memorial 11 that guides state and county governments to give in-state businesses the opportunity to bid on government contracts rather than focusing on out of state contractors. This bill was an important step to help protect our contract workers that serve LANL and I worked tirelessly to ensure its passage in both the House and the Senate.
In an effort to continue addressing issues that arise with government contracts and the impacts on New Mexico’s businesses, I sponsored and successfully passed House Memorial 79. This memorial requests the Economic Development Department, the Workforce Solutions Department, the Regional Development Corporation, the regional coalition of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) communities, and representatives of county and municipal and tribal governments of north central New Mexico to work with the consortium of major LANL subcontractors to study the prospective impact of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) requirements for using its supply chain management center system and to identify strategies to mitigate the impact on local New Mexico businesses.
Local businesses are being hit by this NNSA mandate and jobs are being lost to out of state companies. I have reached out to our Congressional delegation and am working with them on this issue so our local businesses can compete on a level playing field and keep our jobs here.
As a native New Mexican and resident of Los Alamos, I understand the importance our district has played in the history of our state and nation. The Manhattan Project provided necessary jobs during a time New Mexico was struggling and LANL still remains one of the most forward thinking and innovative labs in the country. It was an honor to have the House and Senate pass House Joint Memorial 18, which I sponsored in conjunction with our Federal Delegation, to urge Congress to create the Manhattan Project National Historic Park in our district.
After many hours of debate and compromise, the House and the Senate were able to pass a budget that for the first time in many years that gives teachers a much deserved raise, increases funding to our schools and invests in additional educational programs endorsed by Governor Martinez. As many of you know, I co-sponsored a bill to solve our tuition lottery scholarship that passed the House. In the end, the House and Senate compromised on a similar piece of legislation that truly was a bi-partisan effort to ensure the lottery scholarship fund would remain solvent and available to New Mexico students for years to come.
While I am proud of the legislation that was passed, there is still more work to be done. House Bill 10, a DWI prevention bill that addressed shortcomings in our laws and closed the breathalyzer loophole, and Omaree’s Law House Bill 333, a bill that would have created the checks and balances to prevent future tragic cases like that of Omaree Varela who died at the hands of an abusive parent after repeated calls to CYFD and police, both passed the House with overwhelming bi-partisan support but failed to be heard on the Senate floor. The failure of the Senate to pass these bills puts more New Mexican at risk and that is why, starting the first day of the 2015 legislative session, I will begin fighting to ensure their passage once and for all.
If you have any questions about this session or have other ideas for how we can improve the lives of all New Mexicans, please do not hesitate to call or email me. I will be out knocking doors in your neighborhood throughout the next year and hosting town halls throughout the district and look forward to talking with you about how to move New Mexico forward. I can be reached at 505.500.4343 or by email at Stephanie.GarciaRichard@nmlegis.gov.