Q&A: House District 27 William Orr
- NAME: William Orr
- POLITICAL PARTY: Democrat
- OCCUPATION: Geriatrician and Health Care Consultant
- CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: To have an effective legislative body, there needs to be a broad array of voices in order to pass reasonable and effective legislation. Currently, I am the only physician running to be elected to the State House and the House needs a physician’s input for upcoming health care proposals. I first worked as a Medical Officer in the Public Health Service with the Indian Health Service in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Then, as a practicing geriatrician physician, I developed and implemented programs in Denver and Albuquerque to prevent or delay nursing home placement for those at risk and, at the same time, reduce their costs of care. I returned to New Mexico as a Medical Director for one of the health care companies hired by New Mexico’s Medicaid to manage the Long Term Care system.
- EDUCATION: BS – Stanford University 1968; MD – Tulane University 1972
- CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.orr4nm.com
- What steps should the Legislature take to ensure New Mexico has a balanced budget amid falling oil prices and an economic downturn prompted by the coronavirus outbreak?
This downturn is caused by an extraordinary event. It requires a measured and thoughtful response. While we will need to re-evaluate our budget, we have substantial reserves. We need to plan for now and the future and ensure availability of care for COVID-19 victims and the support of business payroll.
- What more, if anything, should the Legislature do to address a court ruling that found New Mexico is failing to provide a sufficient education to all students?
The Legislature needs to comply with the court ruling. In this economic downturn, that compliance is put at risk, causing further long-term harm to our children. Education must remain a priority after the short-term issues listed above, so the state again doesn’t lose ground as we have in the past.
- What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
We need a complete tax overhaul with changes that are equitable and progressive in nature. I would listen to the experts on tax codes to outline possible changes. The Legislature needs a variety of expertise. Mine is Health Care. I want to be “the Doctor in the House”
- Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?
I certainly oppose any criminal actions related to the use of marijuana. As a physician, I know that there are health-related concerns with legalization; but, with criminalization, there are serious societal concerns. Certainly, if legalized, taxing sales would be appropriate.
In recent years, New Mexico has steadily increased spending on early childhood programs, such as home visiting, prekindergarten and child care assistance, and created a new early childhood trust fund. Do you support or oppose a constitutional amendment that would withdraw more money from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to increase funding for early childhood services?
Yes. I support the constitutional amendment giving the citizens of New Mexico the ability to utilize a percentage of the Land Grant Permanent Fund for early childhood development. We cannot continue to be 49th or 50th on every category related to early childhood care and development.
- Do you support or oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party?
Since the state is funding the primary elections, all citizens should be allowed to participate. That would mean that independent or non-affiliated voters can vote in one of the primaries. I would still limit Republicans, Democrats and smaller parties to their own primaries if they are holding a primary.
- Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaws abortion, except in limited circumstances?
Support. That decision is between a physician and the woman.
- Would you support a merit-based evaluation system to determine how the state spends its capital outlay funding? Should each legislator be required to disclose which projects he or she funded?
Yes and yes. Of course, a “merit” based system may be attacked as being biased so it will need to be formulated by a broad-based panel with open meetings. I believe legislators should be required to disclose. I would want my constituents to know what I have funded.
- Do you support or oppose requiring lobbyists to disclose which bills they advocate for or against?
Support. The less secrecy in government the better.
- New Mexico is highly reliant on the oil and natural gas industries to generate revenue to fund state programs, as evidenced by recent oil boom and bust cycles. What are the things you would do to diversify the state’s economy and revenue base?
The first step would be revamping our tax code and our system of Gross Receipts Tax. We need to make our state more “business friendly” in many ways. Some of the first steps will require building a great educational and healthcare system as well as reducing crime.
- Do you support or oppose updating the current prohibition in the law on assisted suicide in order to allow aid-in-dying under certain medical circumstances?
Support. While in Colorado, I led a subcommittee for the Governor’s Commission on Life and the Law to advise the governor on Physician Assisted Suicide.
12: Would you support or oppose a moratorium on fracking? And should the state impose additional renewable energy mandates as a way to address climate change concerns?
An economic moratorium is now taking place. The state can use this time to study the long-term consequences of fracking so we can make rational decisions for the future. We need to recognize that fracking created the oil and gas boon which has directly benefited our state.
- What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?
The Legislature needs to work on the fundamental causes, such as addiction, domestic violence, mental health and early childhood trauma. The Early Childhood Trust Fund is one move. Restoring the Behavioral Health System is a second. A third would be the removing of any impediments to addiction treatment.
- Do you support or oppose the practice of legislative budget-writing committees holding closed-door meetings during the crafting of state spending bills?
Open governmental processes are always better. If there is some fear that open meetings would become too disruptive because of public demonstrations, then at least unedited tape recordings of the meeting should be made available.
- Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens? NO
- Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding? NO
- Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony in New Mexico or any other state? If so, explain. NO