February 24, 2021
The New Mexico state legislative session is now over halfway done. While animal protection bills are still progressing, the process has slowed as we enter the back half—in part because of bottlenecks in committee schedules, and in part because some bills are relatively new and facing due (but lengthy) consideration and debate in committees.
Yesterday morning, three Animal Protection Voters priority bills were scheduled for committee hearings.
First, the Senate Conservation Committee heard Senate Bill 312, sponsored by Senator Jeff Steinborn (D-Las Cruces) and Representative Nathan Small (D-Las Cruces) and dubbed by advocates “the New Mexico Wildlife Heritage Act”, which makes a number of positive changes to the current infrastructure of wildlife management and conservation in New Mexico. (We wrote more about the bill in this blog.) In the committee debate, several legislators had concerns about some of the particular provisions of the bill, and in the end the bill was tabled on a 4-4 vote—meaning the bill will not move onto its next committee unless or until there is a motion to move it “off the table.” We will continue to work with stakeholders and the bill sponsors to see if there is a viable path for some components of the bill to move forward with our collective support. Please stay tuned for updates on this bill.
Then, the Senate Indian, Rural & Cultural Affairs committee heard a presentation on Senate Bill 385 (wild horse management) by bill sponsors, Senator Brenda McKenna (D-Corrales) and Senator Pat Woods (R-Broadview)—and public testimony was taken, but the remainder of committee consideration and action will be moved to Thursday, February 25. Earlier in the session, the sponsors approached Animal Protection Voters with their intention to introduce a version of this legislation, and we were grateful they heard our input based on a number of principles and lessons learned as our organization has been involved in wild horse issues in Sandoval County, the Carson National Forest, and Native Nation and Pueblo lands over the past several years. Why does Animal Protection Voters support SB 385? Because we have serious concerns that years of inaction, driven by intractable divides in communities about wild horse management decisions, have led to grave consequences for wild horses and wild habitat that all wildlife rely upon.
This is an issue where a few individuals at the two ends of the spectrum either want complete and immediate eradication of wild horses…or they want completely unmanaged, multiplying herds—Animal Protection Voters does not support either. New Mexico communities need a workable state horse law that protects wild horses from egregious abuse and exploitation, and we also need a path for collaborative, science-based herd management that prioritizes on-range humane fertility control. We also believe local communities need and deserve tailored solutions. This includes options to responsibly and humanely relocate horses, through a thoughtful and transparent process, to preserve habitat, protect public safety, and mitigate wild horse starvation and injuries, but with carefully crafted safeguards against unfeasible, ineffective mass removals or cruel slaughter. We have been so heartened to hear from New Mexicans, such as those in Placitas, who support the bill and are already networking with local landowners with hopes of creating preserves for the wild horses on their land. To learn more, please read the bill and our fact sheet.
Finally, while Senate Bill 347 (to require that eggs raised or sold in New Mexico by large commercial egg producers must come from egg-laying hens not confined in cruel cages) was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Conservation Committee, the Committee ran out of time and the bill will now be heard Thursday February 25. Please continue to reach out to the Committee in advance of the new hearing: email SCONC@nmlegis.gov with your Name, Entity (if applicable), Bill # (SB347), and state that you are FOR the bill and any additional supportive comments. If you’d like to testify live in the virtual hearing on Thursday you can sign up (deadline: today, Wed. Feb. 24 at 5:00 pm) here.
Many advocates are waiting and wondering what’s the status of Senate Bill 32, “Roxy’s Law” to restrict traps, snares, and poisons on public lands. It still awaits a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where many bills are waiting for a hearing to move through the legislative process. We continue to closely monitor the situation and hope to see the bill on the Committee schedule soon.
The legislative process is often fraught with speed bumps, and this week has proven that there are multiple ways for bills to slow and stall. But with 24 days left in the 2021 state legislative session, there is still a lot of time left! Let’s power forward with compassion and open hearts, with the protection of all animals guiding us.
With deep gratitude,
Chief Government Affairs Officer