This year's New Mexico Legislative Session started Tuesday. For the last few weeks I've been madly scrambling to make sure the bugs are out of some of the New Mexico Bill Tracker's new features: notably, it now lets you switch between the current session and past sessions, and I cleaned up the caching code that tries to guard against hitting the legislative website too often.
Why a mad last-minute scramble, you ask? Why didn't I do this in the middle of last year?
Well, that's not entirely my fault. With a site that scrapes live data off a website that's only updated for a few months out of the year, it's hard to do enough testing in advance. So once the House started pre-filing bills, there was lots of testing to be done.
Anyway, it's working well enough that I already have a pretty good list of bills on my personal tracking list. There are all sorts of interesting issues likely to come up this year:
- several good healthcare bills including the next step toward the Health Security Act and an end-of-life options bill;
- abortion decriminalization (which narrowly failed to pass in 2019);
- several education bills promising more money for schools and for early childhood care, and a requirement that high schools offer computer science courses;
- bills to expand broadband, something New Mexico badly needs even in relatively affluent areas like Los Alamos (we have a group advocating for that at the County Council level, too);
- a Black Lives Matter-inspired Civil Rights act that addresses "qualified immunity" (read the bill if you want the details);
- abolition of Daylight Savings Time;
- plus, I hope, a bill I helped draft (my first experience with that process) that would make voting district GIS data for everywhere in the state freely available without charge (unfortunately we lost our sponsor when they changed the rules to say that representatives could only sponsor five bills each, so now we're looking for another one).
Due to COVID, the legislature is meeting via Zoom, which may make it easier for people who don't live in Santa Fe to testify for or against bills they care about. In past years, I found the process of getting to the Roundhouse, sitting around waiting for a bill to come up (or not -- sometimes they jigger the schedules at the last minute), and finally waiting to testify, so daunting that I only had the energy to do it a couple of times. It'll be interesting to see if Zoom meetings are easier and what the rules will be for testifying.
Anyway, it's looking like it will be an interesting session!
The LWV of New Mexico has
lots of information on how you can participate.
New Mexicans who want to follow bills can register on the
NM Bill Tracker.
And of course, let me know if you have any problems with it.
I'm sure there are still some bugs hiding in there.
[ 17:50 Jan 21, 2021 More politics | permalink to this entry | ]