Q&A: House District 20 candidate Meredith Dixon - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: House District 20 candidate Meredith Dixon

House District 20 candidate Meredith Dixon (Courtesy Meredith Dixon)

NAME: Meredith Dixon

POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic

OCCUPATION: Consultant

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Currently serving as state representative for House District 20.

EDUCATION: B.A. Chatham College, M.A. University of Pittsburgh

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: meredithfornewmexico.com

1. 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 steps should the Legislature take to diversify the state’s economy and revenue base?

The Legislature must collaborate with state, regional and local organizations to support existing businesses and attract new ones in emerging industries; encourage our educational institutions to align workforce training with employer needs; expand successful tools like the angel investment tax credit; and streamline permitting to facilitate efficient, responsible development.

2. During the last regular legislative session, there was an unsuccessful push to make it easier to keep certain defendants behind bars until trial. Should New Mexico law be changed to make it easier to hold individuals charged with violent offenses such as murder and first-degree child abuse behind bars until trial?

The law should give judges more discretion in deciding whether people charged with serious violent crimes, like murder, should be held because they are dangerous or a flight risk. This can be done in a way that protects the community and victims, while (also protecting) everyone’s rights in the criminal justice system.

3. What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and public safety as New Mexico faces one of the highest violent crime rates in the nation?

During the last legislative session, I sponsored HB 68, the comprehensive crime package that seeks to improve public safety through prevention measures, stiffer penalties, and by putting more law enforcement on the streets. Additionally, the legislature should further support pretrial services, specialty courts, funding for public defenders, and victims’ rights.

4. Given the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, do you support or oppose codifying abortion protections in state law? And do you support or oppose enacting any restrictions on abortion in New Mexico?

In New Mexico, we are fortunate that patients can make their own personal pregnancy decisions without government interference. I will always respect a woman’s personal decision about abortion, in consultation with her health care provider, without government interference. And I will fight to expand access to reproductive health care and freedom.

5. New Mexico has already implemented several gun control laws in recent years. Would you support or oppose legislation that banned or restricted the sale of AR-15-style semi-automatic weapons, such as raising the age limit for purchasing such weapons? And what about legislation making it a crime to fail to safely secure firearms around children?

Common-sense restrictions such as raising the age limit for purchasing AR-15-style semi-automatic weapons can reduce mass casualty shootings while respecting New Mexico’s tradition of responsible gun ownership. However, responsible ownership includes ensuring that firearms are safely secured around children and those who do not should be held accountable.

6. The state agency tasked with keeping New Mexico children safe has faced recent scrutiny over transparency issues and its handling of high-profile child abuse cases. What changes would you support to improve the operations of the Children, Youth and Families Department?

First, the Children, Youth and Families Department needs an independent, outside ombudsman. Second, essential components of the Kevin S settlement must be codified into law. Third, our state needs to continue to invest in a strong social and behavioral health care workforce, early childhood care and education, and poverty reduction.

7. What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?

It is critical that the Legislature eliminate GRT pyramiding, specifically for business to business service-based inputs. This change would reduce the cost of doing business in New Mexico and make our state more competitive with our neighboring states.

8. New Mexico is currently the only state that does not pay its legislators a salary, though lawmakers do get per diem payments and can qualify for a legislative pension. Do you support or oppose a salaried Legislature and, if so, how much should lawmakers be paid?

Our Legislature needs to be better prepared to deal with the complex issues of the 21st century. New Mexicans deserve a Legislature that is fully equipped to understanding and analyzing proposed legislation and serving constituents. That means assessing the length and purview of sessions, staffing and legislator pay.

9. What more, if anything, should the Legislature do to address a court ruling that found New Mexico is failing to provide sufficient education to all students, especially Native Americans and those who don’t speak English as a first language?

The COVID pandemic resulted in lost learning and exacerbated student achievement gaps. The Legislature should continue to prioritize evidence-based programs, including extended learning programs and targeted intervention measures for at-risk students, as well as invest in community schools, college and career readiness programs, and educator leadership and development.

10. 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 the proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would withdraw more money from the state’s permanent school fund to increase funding for early childhood services and K-12 education?

I support an increased, reliable source of funding for early childhood services and K-12 education. Research shows that investments in evidence-based programs, such as home visiting and pre-K, improve student outcomes. Long-term, these investments can reduce adverse childhood experiences, lift families out of poverty, and build economic prosperity.

11. In order to address climate change and air quality issues, do you support or oppose legislation limiting greenhouse gas emissions and requiring the state to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050?

I support legislation that provides a comprehensive pathway for the industrial, energy, transportation and building sectors to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Such legislation must be developed in consultation with all energy stakeholders — industry, research institutions and advocates; should balance mandates and incentives; and must be technology agnostic.

12. Do you believe changes should be made to the emergency powers held by a governor during a pandemic or other time of crisis. If so, do you believe such powers should be expanded or reduced and in what specific ways?

The COVID pandemic exposed a need for stronger limits on the governor’s emergency powers. I support a requirement for legislative review and concurrence after a certain amount of time.

13. Would you support a merit-based evaluation system to determine how the state spends its capital outlay funding?

Yes, I would support a merit-based evaluation system that makes our capital outlay funding more efficient and effective, leverages federal funds, and balances the needs of rural, urban, and frontier communities.

14. Do you believe former President Donald Trump’s claim that he was the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election? (Yes or No answer only, please)

No.

15. What changes, if any, would you support to New Mexico’s election laws?

Over 300,000 voters in New Mexico, predominantly younger voters, cannot cast ballots in state-funded primary elections because they “declined-to-state” a party affiliation. In 2002 I co-sponsored a constitutional amendment allowing declined-to-state voters to vote in state-funded primary election because I believe it is important for all voters to participate.

Personal background

1. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?

No.

2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?

No.

3. 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.

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