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How You Can Help a Bill Become Law

By April 5, 2019December 7th, 2022Legislature, Action Alerts

Below is a brief overview of a bill’s journey through the legislative arena and ways for you to get involved in this important process. Read the complete Legislative Education Series»

Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM) is committed to connecting communities across the state with their political power. That means New Mexicans like you need to make sure your voice is heard, especially during the legislative session where laws and changes are made with, or without, our input. Our citizen legislators need to know that we expect protections for our communities and our air, land and water. It is critical that every New Mexican knows how OUR state government works so that we know exactly how to make the changes we want.

Introduction of Legislation

A piece of legislation can be written by anyone and must be sponsored and introduced by a legislator. The bill must pass through a gauntlet of procedures, votes and systems that are important to understand. It’s important to know that each piece of legislation has the potential to completely change the way we live.

How you can get involved with the introduction of legislation:

  • If you have a good idea about changes you want to see in New Mexico, make sure your legislators hear from you! You can also let us know, and we’ll work to turn good ideas into bills.

Committees

Hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of pieces of legislation are introduced at the NM State Legislature, but the 30-day or 60-day sessions don’t provide enough time for the entire legislative body of 112 legislators to fully consider all those bills. That’s where legislative committees play a vital role. A committee is made up of a group of legislators that meet to study a bill and hold public hearings in order to recommend action to the entire legislative body.

How you can get involved with the committee process:

  • Offer Testimony: Public testimony is often a pivotal point for legislation. Our citizen legislators may have analysts and impact reports, which are often dense and fact-based documents, to inform their decisions, but testimony from everyday New Mexicans is critical. This is an opportunity to make your voice heard and directly represent your community’s needs and concerns. Public testimony during committees is your seat at the table. Find more information about committee schedules on the NM Legislature website.
  • Contact Committee Members: Calling committee legislators, writing a letter to their State Capitol office or sending an email are effective ways to make your voice heard without having to step foot in the building. Keep an eye on your inbox! We send out action alerts when your voice is needed to contact legislators and remind them to protect our communities, our air, land and water. Find committee schedules, which bills they will hear and contact information for each legislator that sits on a committee on the NM Legislature website.

Third Reading and Floor Votes

If a piece of legislation receives a ‘Do Pass’ from all of its assigned committees, it moves to the final step of its legislative journey: Third Reading. Legislators vote to either pass or fail a bill by majority vote. Bills that do not receive a majority vote fail and do not move any further in the process. On rare occasions, legislators may ask that a bill be returned to a committee or referred to a new committee for further deliberation before a final vote is cast.

How you can get involved with Floor Votes:

  • Our citizen legislators depend on everyday New Mexicans like you and me to help guide their vote. While public comment is not part of the full floor debates, keep an eye on your inbox: we will be sending out action alerts when critical legislation is about to hit the floor in either the House or Senate. We can secure a favorable outcome for good legislation, and ensure bad legislation fails, by calling or visiting our elected leaders, writing letters to the editor about specific legislation and sharing our stories with legislators to inform their important decisions.

The Governor’s Desk

After a bill passes both the House and Senate, the bill is sent to the Governor’s desk. The Governor can sign the bill and it becomes law, or reject (veto) the bill.

How you can get involved with legislation on the Governor’s Desk:

  • The Governor has 20 days after the legislative session ends to act on bills awaiting a signature. Any items not signed after the 20-day period are rejected via pocket veto. During this period, it’s critical that Conservation Voters call, mail and e-mail the Governor’s office to make sure proper action is taken to protect our communities, air, land and water. We’ll be monitoring our bills when they get to this stage and will let you know when is the most strategic time to reach out to the Governor. We’ll share these action alerts via our email list and Facebook. Follow us on Facebook if you aren’t already!

Now that you are on expert on the New Mexico legislative process, don’t miss out on opportunities to engage in the legislative process and advocate for legislation that will protect communities, our air, land and water.