The 2023 Legislative Session, Student Advocates, and Hope for the Future (Shallow Thoughts)

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing and Technology, Science, and Nature.

Wed, 01 Feb 2023

The 2023 Legislative Session, Student Advocates, and Hope for the Future

This year's New Mexico legislative session started Jan 17 and runs through Mar 18. As usual, they have a full schedule.

Also as usual, I've been scrambling with updates to the New Mexico Bill Tracker. This year's new feature is tags; I seeded it with a few tags I use, like health and elections, plus an LWVNM tag for bills the League of Women Voters is tracking and advocating for or against. But the list has grown quite a bit from there, and it's been fun to watch what tags other people are interested in.

One bill of particular interest this session is HB134: MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS IN SCHOOL BATHROOMS. It's driven by three Albuquerque Academy high school students, seniors Noor Ali, Sophia Liem and Mireya Macías. They contacted the LWVNM before the session started looking for support, and we're happy to speak in strong support of the bill, along with lots of other organizations.

Not that they need it. I watched the first committee meeting for HB134, in the House Education Committee, and was blown away by how articulate, smart and confident these students are. Listening to these young women made me feel hopeful and optimistic about the future. They told stories of problems menstruation can cause in school, especially if you're caught without any pads or tampons, explained what a problem it can be especially for low-income students, and presented their case for why New Mexico should address the problem. Then lots of other students as well as adults spoke for the bill, each adding new stories to the mix.

I didn't speak (the League already had a designated speaker for the bill) but hearing all the stories got me thinking back. Like most women, I've been in the situation they're describing (I usually found paper towels sufficed as an emergency measure). But I remember the first time I got a job at a company where the pad/tampon machines in the women's room were free (I think was SGI), and how it felt like I'd finally arrived. I know that sounds silly — it even sounds a little silly to me, recounting it so many years later. Obviously a Silicon Valley software engineer can afford her own menstrual products, and a machine that charges 25¢ in the event I forgot my own isn't a hardship. But I'd been struggling to rise through a series of unrewarding jobs and had finally arrived at a top-notch company doing the job I wanted to be doing, and somehow seeing those free pads felt like a condensation of all the varied signals top companies send to let their employees know they're valued.

You can read more about these students and their quest in the ABQ Journal: Three Albuquerque seniors pitch bill to require free feminine hygiene products in schools. I'm happy to note that my representative, Christine Chandler, is a cosponsor of the bill. The bill next comes up for discussion in the House Appropriations & Finance, but they haven't set a date yet. Maybe next week. If you want to feel good about the future of the country, tune in and listen to these young women present their case.

And if you want an overview of what else the NM legislature is up to this year, the NM Bill Tracker makes a good entry point. But then, of course I would say that. :-)

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[ 17:59 Feb 01, 2023    More politics | permalink to this entry | ]

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