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Democracy dies in darkness; transparent session possible

The New Mexico State Capitol in Santa Fe. The Legislature begins is 60-day session Tuesday.

As the state’s 60-day legislative session approaches, it has become clear that the progressive agenda Democrats will be pushing is adverse to the values of hardworking New Mexican taxpayers, and it will be pushed through without sufficient transparency or the public’s full involvement.

Progressives in the Legislature have stated their intentions to raise taxes, make our state the late-term abortion capital of the country, further devalue life by allowing euthanasia of the old and disabled, disarm and defund law enforcement, increase electric rates while eliminating 40% of our state’s total revenue which comes from oil and gas, and further stoke racial and cultural divisions through identity politics.

After spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat moderate Democratic legislators who have long opposed this out-of-touch agenda, progressive majorities in both the House and Senate are planning to ensure these and other radical initiatives become law in New Mexico.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in ways no one could have imagined. Small businesses are closing their doors permanently and employment has been devastated by the governor’s shutdown orders; our kids are not being educated properly; and weddings, funerals, family gatherings and worship services have been decried as selfish indulgences.

Despite these disruptions to your daily lives, Democratic leaders have decided to push through their agenda without any delay and no regard for public input in the 60-day session when a vaccine could allow a fully transparent and inclusive session in a couple of months.

Most troubling is this progressive agenda will be adopted without the public’s active participation, will be done without the traditional debate our legislative system relies upon and without the full engagement of legislative analysts and policy experts.

For over 100 years our system of government has not only encouraged citizen engagement, (it) has been an essential component of the legislative process because our Legislature is the last “volunteer” legislative body in the nation. Yet in 2021, using COVID-19 as an excuse, the majority has all but decided that citizen input is no longer essential.

We strongly disagree with this irresponsible agenda and we are dismayed over the Democratic-controlled Legislature restricting public involvement in the process. Limiting the ability of both citizens and legislators to fully engage in legislative review, especially at a time when the Democrats are poised to push an agenda that dramatically alters our daily lives, strikes at the core of transparent lawmaking.

Democracy dies when it is conducted in darkness and developing public policy in private backrooms will only result in the people being forced to endure policies they may fundamentally oppose.

Unfortunately, the New Mexico House of Representatives is hurtling towards this darkness. Transparency is not just a “buzzword,” transparency is what separates us from a kangaroo legislature.

We are prepared to advocate even harder this session not just for policies we believe will make our great state thrive, but for the long held right of the public to fully participate in our representative form of government.

So let’s open up the legislative process and allow all citizens to participate once the pandemic has eased and vaccines have been made available to everyone.

We can do this by simply waiting until April or May to convene the legislative session, and then the public can truly be part of the legislative process by appearing at committee hearings, sharing opinions with legislators face-to-face and holding legislators accountable for the laws they pass.

Anything less is a travesty imposed on the very people we were elected to represent.

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