January 26, 2021
Last night, much of New Mexico enjoyed some winter precipitation, and we awoke to beautiful white snow blanketing the world outside our homes. It was a bittersweet reminder of the gorgeous thick fur coats that many wild animals grow to stay warm during the colder months, and how that fur is stolen and commercialized for private profit. So it was a poignant morning to tune into the Senate Conservation Committee, where Senate Bill 32 (“Wildlife Conservation & Public Safety Act” a.k.a. Roxy’s Law, banning traps, snares, and poisons on public lands) was on today’s agenda, poised for discussion and the vote required to move it further along in the legislative process.
Today’s Senate Conservation Committee was the very first meeting of that committee during this virtual 2021 state legislative session. Convening at 9:00 AM, there were some (perhaps to be expected) technical hiccups as the Senators and committee staff worked to start the meeting and make introductions, as typically happens in the first committee meetings of the year. The Chairwoman, Senator Liz Stefanics, then took time to share how she planned to allow public testimony for each bill and other important meeting logistics. After this needed orientation, they began hearing the first bill on the agenda.
As bills were introduced and debated, it became apparent that the hearing process would be slower than anticipated. Efforts to accommodate public testimony during the meeting were noble, and though it was a bit clunky and confusing, many people were able to testify smoothly on the Zoom platform. The most time was spent on questions from Committee members directed at the bill sponsors and expert witnesses. By 12:00 noon, the designated stop time, the Committee adjourned, having finished hearing and voting on just the first two bills—which did not include Roxy’s Law, as it was third on the agenda.
Later this afternoon, the Senate Conservation Committee posted a revised schedule for this Thursday’s meeting, which includes the bills not heard today. For Thursday’s committee agenda, Senate Bill 32 (Roxy’s Law) is 3rd on the agenda, again. If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to reach out to your Senator if they sit on the Senate Conservation Committee to ask them to vote ‘yes’ on the bill. If you’re not sure who your Senator is, you can find out here. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need help.
Roxy’s Law is, so far, the most far-reaching animal protection bill filed during this 2021 legislative session—but there are other bills introduced that will also impact animals.
Some bills that will be beneficial to animals include:
- House Bill 51, “Environmental Database Act,” which will provide a robust new tool for monitoring and public access to data regarding wildlife, habitats, environmental public health impacts, and more. This bill passed the House Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Committee this morning by a 7-4 vote, and moves next to the House State Government, Elections & Indian Affairs Committee (not yet scheduled).
- Senate Bill 103, “Restricting Use of Neonicotinoid Pesticides,” does exactly what its title says, restricting use of the dangerous pesticides that have led to such devastating declines in bee and other pollinator populations essential to our fragile ecosystems. This bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Conservation Committee on Thursday.
Other bills that harm animals (by seeking to block legislation that stops or regulates unacceptably cruel or ecologically damaging activity and/or creating a preference for lethal wildlife management) include multiple proposed constitutional amendments to establish a so-called “right to hunt” (House Joint Resolution (HJR) 5 and HJR 8). We continue to look closely at these measures and stand ready to oppose them.
We will continue working hard for animals through this unique virtual session, and we are thrilled to have grassroots advocates like you by our side. Don’t forget: Our first weekly “live update and phone-banking session” is tomorrow (Wednesday) evening starting at 4 PM! Sign up for one or more of these virtual events over the coming weeks here. And no matter what, we will keep you updated via emails, blogs, and social media as the session progresses. Thank you!
With deep gratitude,
Chief Government Affairs Officer