March 18, 2019
The 2019 New Mexico legislative session ended at noon on Saturday, March 16th. In the final few days of the session, the status of Animal Protection Voters’ priority bills became much clearer. After frantic and determined activity by legislators and advocates pushing hundreds of other bills, we’re now celebrating the passage of one of our four priority bills, as well as several other pro-animal bills that also made it across the finish line.
For months, you—our supporters and volunteers—and our staff have put mountains of work into all the important animal-related bills we have been pursuing this year. In every case, we believe our collective efforts have been important and fruitful. For the bills that did not pass the legislature, we will have to wait for another legislative session to see them introduced again, but all our efforts have contributed to momentum that will ultimately lead to success. This much we know: when we keep trying and don’t give up, our animal protection bills eventually pass!
Here is where things stand with APV’s priority legislation:
SB 76: Prohibit Coyote Killing Contests
We’re thrilled to announce that SB 76 passed its final legislative hurdle last Tuesday night, clearing the House of Representatives on a 37-30 vote. Thank you so much for every small and large thing you’ve done to move this measure forward this year and every year since 2013! We are so proud of this victory, the culmination of a long-fought campaign since APV first documented a coyote killing contest in 1999. The only step left is for the Governor to review the bill and, hopefully, sign it into law. Please contact Governor Lujan Grisham and ask her to sign SB 76 into law so New Mexico can rid itself of these grotesque body-count contests that give our state a black eye.
Senate Bill (SB) 367: Pet Food Fee for Neutering & Sheltering: funding for statewide low-cost spay/neuter program
SB 367 died awaiting a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee. Although we heard directly from committee members that a majority of them supported the bill, the bottom line is we were told that somehow we didn’t have the support we needed to get it over the finish line. Please know that this year the bill continued to enjoy massive statewide support, from animal shelters, veterinarians, community organizations, law enforcement, and the important NM Association of Counties. Apparently that wasn’t enough to pass this game-changing measure that would have especially given crucial relief to NM’s rural communities when our state now spends over $40 million every year to help address cat and dog overpopulation. The good news is that we know from our own history of passing legislation that getting these meaningful bills passed is just a matter of time. We will pursue this measure again in the short 2020 legislative session, and we won’t give up until it passes.
House Bill (HB) 366: Wildlife Protection & Public Safety Act: restricting traps, snares & poisons on NM’s public lands
HB 366 has, for the first time ever, passed two House committees, and then it awaited a vote on the House floor. However, even after immense work and engagement from constituents, APV and the many partners in the Trap Free New Mexico coalition were not able to identify and secure enough solid, committed votes for the bill—unfortunately, too many legislators in the close vote would not commit either way. Thus, the bill did not move forward for a vote—and, nevertheless, we now know which House legislative districts need more work to garner more ‘yes’ votes for the bill (we’ll share this information with constituents soon). We have worked tirelessly to arrive at this modest and reasonable measure to bring New Mexico into the 21stcentury with more humane wildlife management, while also providing reasonable ways for people to protect their property and livestock, and allowing agencies effective management tools to protect infrastructure. Since it’s time New Mexico’s public lands are safe for everyone to enjoy without fear of harm to them or their companion animals, we and others will continue to push for this policy change until this measure passes.
HB 218: Equine Facility Purchase of Certain Horses: ensuring only humane disposition for equines in the custody of NM Livestock Board
This bill had just two more legislative steps in the Senate to pass—but the bill died when it was never heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee. HB 218 would have ensured that New Mexico’s registered equine shelters have the first right to take in abandoned or abused domestic equines who come into the custody of the NM Livestock Board, rather than requiring those equines to automatically be publicly auctioned (putting them at risk of being purchased for slaughter).
Other passed legislation seeking positive change for animals includes:
SB 228: Wildlife Corridors Act
This bill directs the New Mexico Department Game & Fish and Department of Transportation to develop a Wildlife Corridors Action Plan to include identification of existing highway crossings and other human barriers that pose a risk to wildlife migration, and development of a list of projects that minimize habitat fragmentation, allow for safe wildlife passage, and increase public safety.
SB 383: Game Commission Fair Chase Rulemaking
This bill allows the NM Dept. of Game & Fish to temporarily withhold certain technology data (like GPS collar locations) from public information requests in order to prevent individuals from unfairly using that data to locate and kill those animals.
SB 234: Pollinator Protection License Plate
This bill creates a new special license plate, and $15 from the initial registration and from each renewal of these plates will be transferred to the New Mexico Department of Transportation for pollinator protection activities, such as roadside vegetation planting, educational signing, and demonstration gardens.
For a full summary of how all animal-related bills turned out by the end of the session, visit our website.
The four pro-animal bills that have passed the legislature still need to be signed by the Governor, so stay tuned for more. There is also a lot of work to be done between now and the next legislative sessions where we can return to working on the bills that did not pass this year. To stay updated, please be sure you’re signed up for APV’s eAlerts for information on crucial legislative matters that affect how animals are treated in our state.
Thank you for caring, for making your important voice heard by your legislators, and for supporting APV’s work to represent animals in Santa Fe!
Elisabeth (Lisa) Jennings
Executive Director, APV